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Innovation Accelerator

The Innovation Accelerator provides funding to assist Penn Nursing students and faculty with the creation and testing of early stage solutions to improve health and health care outcomes with a priority on populations of greatest need.


The Penn Nursing Innovation Accelerator will provide up to $10k for research and development of a proposed innovation idea that has an existing low-fidelity prototype which has been minimally tested. The award amount will be determined by the budget and justification provided by the applicant (maximum of $10k). Mentorship & coaching will be provided by Penn Nursing’s Innovation team and others from the Penn Innovation and Entrepreneurship community, as appropriate.  

Applicant Qualifications

The lead innovator for the application must be a full-time member of the Penn Nursing faculty (standing, associated, and teaching faculty) or matriculated student in a Penn Nursing Program with a minimum of one calendar year remaining in their program. Nurses employed full-time in the Penn Medicine hospitals are welcome to participate in the innovation accelerator if they partner with a Penn Nursing faculty lead or co-lead. Projects will be funded for the calendar year.


Winners will develop their innovation with ongoing advice from their assigned mentors throughout one calendar year (January-December). Quarterly progress reports will be submitted to Penn Nursing’s Director of Innovation. Budget expenditures must be compliant with all university rules, and changes in budget allocation must be approved by the Director of Innovation and the Executive Director of the Office of Nursing Research. The award cannot be used for salaries or education materials. Travel for research and development of the innovation will be considered in accordance with University policies.

Award distribution will be based on the approved timeline and milestones submitted with the application. All funding will be contingent upon the completion of the approved timeline and milestones. A final report and budget reconciliation will be due within thirty (30) days after the completion of the project. In addition, the lead innovators will provide an oral pitch of the status of their project at the following year’s pitch event. Projects funded through the Penn Nursing Innovation Accelerator are subject to the University patent policy.

Call for Proposals

The application portal will open on October 1, 2022 and close on November 30, 2022.  

How it Works

Applicants submit an initial application (round 1) and budget request through the application portal. Applicants will be notified if they are selected to participate in the second round of virtual interviews where they will describe in more detail their innovation, project details, budgetary details, and team members. Finalists emerging from round 2 will present at a virtual pitch event in the third and final round to a panel of judges. 

  • Round 1:Online applicationOctober 1, 2022 - November 30, 2022
  • Round 2: Interviews – December 2022
  • Round 3: Pitch Event - March 2, 2023 - Register here to attend the event.

NEW this year - we have two tracks each offering up to $10,000 and a place in the accelerator.

General Health and Healthcare Track:

Submit your ideas for innovative solutions to improve health and healthcare outcomes (does not have to be a technology solution)

Supported by Carolyn E. Bennett (NU’91) and Thomas L. Bennett; Seth Ginns (C’20) and Jane Ginns; and Andrea B. Laporte (NU’69).

NEW: Patient Safety Technology Challenge:

Submit your idea for an innovative technology solution to address one or more of the 5 leading causes of patient harm:

  • Medications
  • Procedural/Surgical
  • Patient care
  • Infections
  • Diagnostic safety

Supported by the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative’s Patient Safety Technology Challenge.

Information sessions will be held virtually on Zoom for anyone interested in learning more. Click on the date below to connect to the Zoom information session or go to the Innovation homepage, under “Upcoming Events”, for the Zoom link for each respective information session date:

Applicants selected to move on to Round 2 will be required to attend a Business Model Canvas session prior to the Round 2 interview.

Those selected to move on to Round 3 will be provided with a practice pitch session and pitch template prior to the pitch event.

Criteria for Initial Application:

  • The potential of the proposed product or process to add value to health or healthcare
  • Feasibility of the innovation and ability to practically implement
  • Thoroughness of approach (timeline, milestones)
  • Novelty of the innovation
  • Strength of the team
  • Timeline
  • Potential for commercialization or sustainability of the proposed solution
  • Feasibility to conduct the proposed work virtually in the context of COVID19


In the current covid19 era all innovation applicants will need to keep in mind certain restrictions:

  • If restrictions require, you will need to consider how can you understand the problem from the point of view of your stakeholders virtually or using other methods.
  • In addition, considerations for how you will recruit participants, collect data, and test your innovation virtually or using other creative methods will also need to be considered.
  • Meetings with mentors and peers as well as pitch sessions may take place virtually.

The Round 1 application should specifically address how you would design, test, and implement your innovation in this new covid world.

Please Note: By submitting an idea, participants acknowledge and hereby agree that they will fully comply with the program guidelines including all participation requirements and all applicable University of Pennsylvania policies and regulations. Failure by a participant to adhere to any of the rules, guidelines and conditions will result in withdrawal of such participant’s (or their team’s) proposal. Penn reserves the right to withdraw submissions at its sole discretion.

Submissions will be reviewed by a committee consisting of senior Penn faculty, staff, and selected external panelists. By submitting a proposal, participants hereby authorize Penn to share all information and materials provided to Penn by each participant (or team participants) with Penn faculty, staff, and third parties for the purposes of activities relating to reviewing submissions and awarding funding to recipients.

Watch the 2023 Penn Nursing Innovation Accelerator Pitch Event

Watch the 2022 Penn Nursing Innovation Accelerator Pitch Event

Watch the 2021 Penn Nursing Innovation Accelerator Pitch Event