Accelerator Awards

Accelerator Awards

The Ohio State University Accelerator Awards is a program that provides funding for technology development designed to accelerate the advancement of cutting-edge Ohio State innovations from the university into the marketplace. The program is funded by The Ohio State University and the Ohio Third Frontier Technology Validation and Start-up Fund (TVSF) and administered through Ohio State’s Keenan Center for Entrepreneurship.

The program is focused on providing funds to validate technologies that have progressed beyond basic lab research with the ultimate goal of creating an Ohio-based startup company. Projects are based on milestones that are constructed with guidance from external industry experts to determine viable deliverables that meet follow-on commercialization needs. The funds are used to de-risk and validate the technology using third party vendors. This technology validation is an important step in moving technologies from the lab for commercialization opportunities and garnering follow-on seed-stage capital investment.

Generating proof-of-concept needed to advance promising technologies

The Accelerator Award program aims to generate the proof needed to advance Ohio State technologies to the point that they are either ready to be licensed by an Ohio-based startup company or are determined to be unfeasible for commercialization. The program is funded by The Ohio State University and the Ohio Third Frontier Technology Validation and Start-up Fund (TVSF) and administered through Ohio State’s Keenan Center for Entrepreneurship. The Ohio Third Frontier aims to create greater economic growth in Ohio through the creation of startup companies that commercialize technologies developed by Ohio higher education institutions. 


The Accelerator Awards application process consists of three required stages: a pre-proposal, full application by invitation and a pitch presentation by invitation.

Key dates and deadlines

There are two upcoming Accelerator Award cycles. Key dates for each include:

  Fall 2020 Cycle Spring 2021 Cycle
  Pre-proposal due date December 7, 2020 March 1, 2020
  Announcement of finalists January 2021 April 2021
  Full proposal due date (by invitation only) March 15, 2021 June 7, 2021
  Pitch presentations (by invitation only) April 2021 July 2021
  Award notices May 2021 August 2021
  Funding start date June 1, 2021 September 1, 2021

The Accelerator Awards program is open to all Ohio State faculty and staff who meet the eligibility guidelines. The principal investigator (PI) must be Ohio State faculty with an appointment that allows them to serve as PI on an externally-sponsored research project. Post-docs and Ohio State staff are eligible to apply as co-PIs. Proposals must fall within one of the State of Ohio’s technology focus areas: software/information technology; biomedical/life sciences; advanced materials; sensors; energy; or advanced manufacturing. Technologies must have already advanced beyond basic research and have the equivalent of a laboratory-scale proof of concept prior to the application.

Projects are designed to advance the commercialization of university-owned intellectual property. By the full application submission deadline, a technology must already have intellectual property protection (patent pending or patent issued), on file with the technology licensing team.

The award is designed to fill the funding gap between basic academic research support and the investment of seed stage capital. Technologies with industry sponsorship, research grant support, investment partners or those that are the subject of a TVSF Phase 2 award are not eligible.

Review the Accelerator Award RFA for details about eligibility.

Use of funds

Applicants may request a total award of up to $100,000. Because biomedical technologies typically require greater resources, a total award for a proposal relating to a biomedical technology may be up to $150,000. The selection committee will evaluate proposals for the appropriateness of the project budget to complete the project within a 12-month timeframe and that all requested funds are reasonable and necessary. Therefore, applicants are encouraged to request only the amount of funding required to achieve the specific project milestones. The average award amount is expected to be about $75,000.

The Accelerator Awards fund milestone-driven projects designed to obtain the proof needed to license the technology to a startup company. All finalists invited to submit a full application will work with an industry expert to assist the PI in developing a commercialization-focused milestone plan.

Scope of activities appropriate for Accelerator Awards funds include:

  • prototype development
  • demonstration and assessment of critical failure points in subsequent development
  • optimization studies
  • scale up pilot studies and commercialization
  • validate markets and customer demand


Program funds will be allocated to specific, measurable project milestones that are key to establishing commercial viability of the technology. The project scope must encompass activities that can be completed within a period of 12-months, with the majority of project funds allocated to independent third-party service providers. Funding is provided in tranches aligned with the project milestones with quantitative metrics of success evaluated on a quarterly basis. General allowable budget categories include: salary and fringe benefits for non-faculty project personnel; purchased services; supplies and equipment. Given the technology transfer goals of the Accelerator Awards program, 75% of project expenditures must be spent with independent third-party service providers (i.e. vendors outside of the university). No more than 25% of the total project budget may be allocated to personnel costs.

Review the Accelerator Award RFA for details about award criteria and use of funds.

Award decisions

The Accelerator Awards external selection committee consists of representatives from the Keenan Center for Entrepreneurship and external partners with commercialization, investment and entrepreneurial expertise. Based on recommendations from the Accelerator Awards selection committee, final funding decisions will be made by the Ohio Third Frontier.

Apply today

Please review the RFA and FAQs for complete details and requirements for the program before submitting a pre-proposal. To apply, complete the pre-proposal template and submit the completed PDF to Pre-proposals are due by 5 p.m. Columbus time on Monday, December 7, 2020 (fall cycle) or Monday, March 1, 2021 (spring cycle).


For more information or questions, please contact the Accelerator Awards team by email at