Organization:VentureWell (formerly NCIIA)

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Founded in 1995, VentureWell (originally called the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance, or NCIIA) with support from The Lemelson Foundation, founded by prolific independent U.S. inventor Jerome Lemelson had from its beginnings invention at its heart. Lemelson, a man who believed that invention was essential to American economic success and vitality, envisioned a program that would foster the next generation of collegiate inventors and help them bring their ideas to impact.

VentureWell's mission is to cultivate a pipeline of inventors, innovators, and entrepreneurs driven to solve the world’s biggest challenges and to create lasting impact. They foster collaboration among the best minds from research labs, classrooms, and beyond to advance innovation and entrepreneurship education and to provide unique opportunities for STEM students and researchers to fully realize their potential to improve the world. 

With a growing membership of more than 200 colleges and universities from all over the United States, VentureWell engages more than 5,000 student and faculty innovators and entrepreneurs each year, helping them to bring their concepts to commercialization.

VentureWell ‘pipeline’ provides nascent student start-ups with early stage funding, helps with business strategy development, mentoring and investment. VentureWell provides faculty with funding for courses and programs in technology entrepreneurship, opportunities for recognition and entrepreneurship. 


For Institutions

  • University Innovation Fellows: Leadership training for students focused on expanding the entrepreneurship ecosystem on campus.
  • Course & Program Grants: $50,000 for courses or programs that support the development of market-driven, technology-based inventions and innovations.
  • Sustainable Vision Grants: $50,000 for courses or programs in which breakthrough technologies are created and commercialized for the benefit of people living in poverty in the US and abroad.
  • OPEN Conference: Annual convening of faculty and students focused on expanding entrepreneurship and innovation in STEM and Engineering disciplines within academia.
  • Lean Launchpad Educators Training: Training for faculty to integrate customer and business model development techniques into entrepreneurship education.
  • Research to Innovation: Training for research scientists to adopt skills for translating research into commercially valuable innovation.

For Student Ventures

  • E-Team Program: The E-Team Program provides funding, immersive workshops, and specialized coaching to student STEM innovators to help them move their inventions into the marketplace. Up to $25,000 funding per team. 
  • Xcelerator Program: Part of the VentureWell pipeline that cultivates creators and entrepreneurs who can turn ideas into successful commercial products, The eight-month program provides necessary knowledge and skills, networking/partnership opportunities and coaching/mentoring to help innovators introduce products and services to target markets.
  • ASPIRE: An intensive week-long workshop that prepares startups for the investments and partnerships necessary to launch their ventures. 
  • BMEidea: With the BMEidea competition, the nation’s leading competition for biomedical and bioengineering students, we challenge students to pioneer a health-related technology that addresses a real clinical need
  • DEBUT: The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) and VentureWell support the Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams (DEBUT) challenge, a project that recognizes undergraduate excellence in biomedical innovation. DEBUT challenges teams of students in undergraduate biomedical education to solve real world problems in healthcare. Prizes of up to $20,000 will be awarded.


  • GIST: VentureWell is supporting delivery of the U.S. Department of State’s Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) initiative, which empowers young innovators through networking, skills building, mentoring, and access to financing to develop startup solutions that address economic and development challenges.
  • The I-Corps™ program was created by the NSF in 2011 to help move academic research it has funded to market. Through a dynamic collaboration with VentureWell, the NSF offers select participants from US academic laboratories the opportunity to participate in a special, accelerated version of Stanford University’s Lean LaunchPad course.
  • Innovate Egypt: The goal of Innovate Egypt is to provide innovators with the training, mentoring, and resources they need to bring their ideas out of the lab and into the market. The program is designed for three-person teams located in Egypt that are comprised of: a Technical Lead, an Entrepreneurial Lead, and a Business Mentor. This program is focused on Graduate Students, Faculty, or Researchers in Science and Engineering in Egypt.
  • Cleantech University Prize (Cleantech UP): Business plan competitions provide aspiring student entrepreneurs with the mentorship, business development skills and training, and investor feedback to transform their clean energy ideas into impactful businesses. In collaboration with U.S. Department of Energy.

Impact for Students and Campus

  • With VentureWell’s support, almost 600 new courses and programs have been established across 160 campuses nationwide.
  • VentureWell has invested over $7.5 million in grants to over 500 student teams – and with that they’ve raised more than $620 million to launch new businesses.
  • More than half of the startup ventures VentureWell invested in are still in business today, operating in over 50 countries and reaching millions of people with ground breaking innovations.

2017 by the numbers:

  • $230,000 in grants awarded to 34 E-Teams
  • 30 global teams attended the Xcelerator program in Nepal and Malawi
  • 41 GIST Boot Camp teams in Peru and Vietnam
  • 19 Moroccan Innovators attended the first CleanTech Innovation Chllenge
  • 355 total teams have been trained in their programs 
  • $115 mil. in funds raised by teams 
  • $363,000 awarded in grants to faculty

Contact Information

To connect with VentureWell with a general inquiry, click here. For more information, visit the VentureWell's website at