More questions? Find the answers to some of them here. If you need further assistance, contact Ideadvance Concierge Idella Yamben at

  • + -

    How is this program different than other funding programs?

    Ideadvance grants will not fund research; instead grants support commercialization of ideas across all disciplines, from the sciences to humanities and liberal arts. To support that mission, entrepreneurs receive their awards not in one lump sum but incrementally based upon completion of commercialization milestones. Entrepreneurs are guided through these milestones by an assortment of dedicated, experienced business professionals within UW-Extension’s Division for Business and Entrepreneurship. Additionally, this team will help entrepreneurs identify local resources on their campus and in their community to move the idea forward.
  • + -

    What is Lean StartUp?



  • + -

    Who is eligible?

    Grants are available for part-time or full-time staff, faculty and students who are part of the UW System. As of the April 28, 2017 application deadline, Ideadvance can now make awards to alumni of eligible UW System 2- or 4- year campuses.  This includes all campuses expect UW-Madison.  Also eligible are applicants and young companies with licensed technologies from the WiSys Technology Foundation or the UW-Milwaukee Research Foundation. Those affiliated with UW-Madison are not eligible to be primary clients but may contribute as team members on eligible projects.
  • + -

    Does the idea have to be high-tech?

    No! Although high-tech ideas are welcome, entrepreneurs do not need to present a biotech or IT technology to receive an Ideadvance grant. The types of eligible businesses are very broad, including ideas in agriculture, manufacturing, music production, textiles, art or business. The only restrictions are that the business cannot be real estate, direct consumer retail or a hospitality business, including restaurants. If your idea creates jobs, is an eligible business, and contributes to Wisconsin’s “knowledge economy,” we’re here to help.
  • + -

    What are the funding opportunities?

    There are two funding stages: Stage 1 and Stage 2.
    Stage 1 funds up to $25,000, aims to support specific steps or milestones that will reduce the business risk in technologies and ideas. A focus on market validation, competitive advantage, and prototype development are key goals in Stage 1. Applicants completing Stage 1 are eligible for Stage 2, which funds up to $50,000. Special direct-to-Stage 2 exceptions may be made.
    Stage 2 expands on learning in Stage 1 to support specific milestones for customer acquisition and follow-on funding. Stage 2 applicants are evaluated on their ability to deliver on these goals and to meet the 1 to 1 match required for Stage 2.
  • + -

    How are awards determined?

    Investment decisions will be made by an Investment Committee comprised of representatives from a UW System campus, WiSys Technology Foundation, UW-Extension, WEDC, and an entrepreneur affiliated with an eligible UW Campus.
  • + -

    How will grant recipients be tracked?

    All award recipients will submit an annual report for up to five years including content that describes the extent to which the company has advanced including quantitative and qualitative measures of success.
  • + -

    How many grants will be awarded?

    The Ideadvance Seed Fund expects to make awards once a year starting 2017. The program anticipates competitive cycles for both Stage 1 and Stage 2 applications.  Four Stage 1 (up to $25,000) and three Stage 2 (up to $50,000) are anticipated for the 2017 and 2018 solicitation deadlines.
  • + -

    What are the grant deadlines?

    Beginning in 2017, Ideadvance will hold annually one (1) solicitation deadline in April for both Stage 1 and Stage 2 competitive proposals. Decisions will be made in May with a cohort beginning in June.  The next deadline will be April 28, 2017.  But it is never too early to begin working with Ideadvance in preparing a competitive proposal! Contact the New Idea Concierge for proposal instructions.
  • + -

    What is the first step in applying for Ideadvance Seed Funding?

    The first step is to contact the New Idea Concierge to learn more about the program and to discuss your idea’s fit for either Stage 1 or Stage 2.  Also, take advantage of several resources below to help you prepare:
    1. Consider some preliminary Customer Discovery activities to test early evidence of customer interest. Not sure how? Watch through Lesson 3 of Steve Blank’s “How to Build a Startup” on Udacity.
    2. View our Stage 1 Proposal Writing Tips webinar recorded on April 11, 2014 and download associated Proposal Tips PowerPoint Slides.
    3. Reach out to the New Idea Concierge to discuss project ideas and for review of early drafts.
  • + -

    Where can I get more information?

    Speak with Idella Yamben, the New Idea Concierge (email:; ph: 608.263.3315). Also follow us on twitter: @IdeadvanceFund.