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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

Applications will be solicited from Penn Nursing faculty and students. Established companies are not eligible to apply. The lead innovator must be a 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. Projects will be funded for the calendar year.


Winners will develop their innovation with ongoing advice from their assigned mentors over a full 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 much 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.

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

Applicants will submit an initial application and budget request through the Penn Nursing website. The application portal will be open from October 1, 2019 – October 31, 2019. Applicants will be notified if they are selected to participate in the second round of face-to-face 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 pitch event in the third and final round to a panel of judges. 

  • Round 1: Online applicationOpens October 1, 2019
  • Round 2: Interviews – November 2019
  • Round 3: Pitch Event - January 2020

Information sessions will be held September 11th, 2019 and October 9th, 2019 for those interested in applying.

Applicants selected for the Round 3 Pitch Event will also have an opportunity to attend innovation and entrepreneurship 101 sessions with members of the Penn Innovation and Entrepreneurship community.

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

Project Completion:

In addition, select applicants will work with Penn Nursing to apply for the J&J Quickfire Challenge or other external competitions.