Research News

Limited Submission Opportunity: VentureWell Course and Program Grants–Fall 2023

Applications due Sept. 28

These instructions are for VU investigators. VUMC investigators should contact for more information.

Vanderbilt University may submit up to two proposals to the fall 2023 VentureWell Course and Program Grants.

VentureWell Course and Program (C&P) Grants of up to $30,000 are awarded to U.S. higher education institutions to expand and strengthen STEM innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E) ecosystems, with the end goal of accelerating sustainable and inclusive innovation. Ideally, C&P Grant funding should act as a catalyst for increased entrepreneurial activity and help faculty and universities leverage other opportunities to launch and/or grow their I&E ecosystems.

C&P Grants may be used to strengthen existing curricular programs or to build new, pedagogically inclusive courses and programs that engage students in collaboratively developing and pursuing scalable solutions to real-world needs through STEM I&E.

Activities supported by C&P Grants should lead to effective courses and programs that are sustained by the institution, enhancing collaboration between students and the larger community by leveraging experiential learning practices, and expand opportunities for learning across STEM I&E.

C&P Grant proposals may include plans to create or improve an individual course, course sequence, minor, major, certificate program or other co- and extracurricular programs that are directly tied to and support I&E-focused curricula. Programs are defined as a set of organized, planned activities or structures that occur on an ongoing basis and are intended to work in collaboration with departments and degree pathways (e.g., engaging with a tech transfer office, office of sustainability, office of entrepreneurship, certificate programs, community-based learning programs, etc.).

Proposals are required to address the following core components:

  • Inclusive innovation
  • Sustainability
  • I&E ecosystem building
  • Stakeholder collaboration
  • Project team and resources
  • Long-term financial plan and deliverables

Proposals may also include the following:

  • General (science- and technology-based) entrepreneurship
  • Emergent industries in your region that solve social and environmental problems (i.e., biomedical and health care innovation, clean energies, agriculture, educational technologies, etc.)
  • Interdisciplinary innovation and entrepreneurship with a STEM component

Examples of past C&P Grant recipients can be found here.

Examples of projects that are not a fit for the program:

  • Courses or programs that do not directly encourage development of innovations and technologies that have a positive environmental and social impact
  • Courses or programs that do not include student collaboration as part of an experiential learning pedagogy
  • Pure research or single project courses (i.e., where there is no student ownership)
  • Existing courses or programs where there is little change or improvement proposed (i.e., ongoing support requests)
  • Proposals that focus solely on extracurricular activities (e.g., hack-a-thons, business plan competitions, etc.) without a clearly stated connection to existing curriculum or other coursework
  • Courses or programs that are disconnected from other campus and community-based resources (i.e., without a description of how that course/program is part of a larger plan for entrepreneurial ecosystem development)
  • Proposals that do not demonstrate support for the most promising technologies and teams to move beyond the classroom, lab or club
  • Proposals that do not include a plan to address both supporting diversity and inclusion, and environmental and social sustainability, in S&T I&E

Commitment to sustainability and advancing equity

Environmental and social sustainability has long been a core tenet of VentureWell’s work (see Appendix for more information and definitions). Course and Program Grants are intended to support the efforts of faculty and student innovators in the advancement of an entrepreneurial mindset and ecosystem-building on campus and within the regional community that will help to solve humanity’s most pressing environmental and social challenges. As climate change intensifies, VentureWell has advanced its organizational commitment to sustainability and has made social and environmental impact a priority on ALL faculty grants, as well as prioritized curricular efforts that encourage student innovation and entrepreneurship that integrate environmental and social sustainability.

Solving today’s complex social and environmental problems requires diverse perspectives and focused efforts to dismantle the systemic barriers that have limited access to science and technology innovation and entrepreneurship. To advance VentureWell’s organizational commitment to advancing equity, it has made diversity, equity and inclusion a priority on ALL faculty grants. Successful VentureWell C&P grantees must make clear how funding will increase access and broaden the participation of traditionally underrepresented, underestimated and emerging groups, specifically those who identify as Black, Latinx and Indigenous; women from all backgrounds; individuals who identify as coming from low-income backgrounds; and others who are marginalized due to racism, sexism, classism and/or other forms of marginalization (referenced throughout this document as URGs; see definitions in Appendix). VentureWell especially encourages faculty and staff applicants from URGs or from minority serving institutions, including tribal colleges, historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, etc., and other institutions that demonstrate clear support for students from URGs in S&T I&E.

See the program guidelines for more information.

Internal application process

Interested faculty should visit to submit an application for the internal LSO competition and to find additional information about the opportunity. The deadline for the internal competition is Sept. 28, 2023.

Any questions about this opportunity or the LSO process may be directed to