Overview and purpose of the fund

The fund will provide seed capital to growing start-up businesses at critical junctures in their development. Open to all disciplines across campus, it will support activities, including commercialization activities, that further accelerate business growth. In addition, the fund seeks to strengthen the link between research and technology transfer and increase the number of new business ventures that emerge from Marquette’s educational and research programs. Each awardee will be paired with a mentor who will provide expertise and guidance throughout the funding period.

The program is supported by Marquette University and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, and is managed by the Office of Research and Innovation, under the direction of Dr. Jeanne Hossenlopp, vice president for research and innovation.

For further details, please contact Dr. Carmel Ruffolo, associate vice president for research and innovation at carmela.ruffolo@marquette.edu.

Eligibility

The Enterprise Seed Fund is open to current Marquette University students, faculty and staff who have established a legal business entity located in the state of Wisconsin. Eligible businesses must have an officer and/or founder who is currently a Marquette University student, faculty or staff member. Recipients must also commit to providing proof of the legal entity of the business, along with updated information as requested on employment, salaries and capital leverage for a period of five years following receipt of funds.

The Marquette Enterprise Seed Fund will support specific activities related to achieving business development milestones. Eligible activities include:

  • Market research
  • Assessment of commercialization feasibility
  • Pivoting ideas that hold promise but which may require reframing in order to be optimize commercial appeal
  • Prototype/product/service development and testing
  • Proof-of-concept demonstrations
  • Assessment of scale-up feasibility
  • Business plan development

Award information

  • The Enterprise Seed Fund will have three funding application submission dates. Applications are due to the Office of Research and Innovation on:
    • Dec. 9, 2015
    • June 24, 2016
    • October 14, 2016
  • There will be approximately six awards granted each round, and the awards will be made for up to $50,000 per application.
  • Awards are for 12 months and awardees will be required to submit quarterly reports (see below).
  • If selected as a finalist, the potential awardee will be interviewed by the Enterprise Seed Fund Investment Committee members to finalize selection of awards.
  • Successful applicants will be matched with a mentor who will provide expertise in an applicable focus area. Mentor-mentee teams will be required to meet several times throughout the year.
  • Awardees will be required to attend three programming sessions hosted by the Kohler Center for Entrepreneurship.
  • Faculty and staff who receive funds will also be required to serve as mentors for other ventures.
  • The awards will be required to comply with the Marquette University’s intellectual property policy.
  • Applicants who are selected to receive awards and who wish to accept the award must sign a contract agreement with Marquette University outlining the awardee’s responsibilities within 60 days of receiving notification of selection as an awardee.

Application process

The Enterprise Seed Fund will keep the full details of your proposal and supporting documents confidential. However, we may need to release your name/business name and a short description of your business idea for reporting and promotional purposes.

Applicants will be required to complete this application form by October 14.

Specific information for “Project Description”

  • Clear description of goals for the development of the business.
  • Rationale for how the proposed activities will advance the business’s development by accomplishing specific milestones.
  • What is the problem that your business is trying to solve? How will your solution be innovative?
  • How is this problem currently being addressed?
  • What competitive solutions (products, work-arounds, etc.) exist?

Specific information for “Description of Existing Business”

  • Completed Business Model Canvas.
  • Business name and contact information, including email.
  • Contact information for the business’ primary contact person on the application, who will be responsible for the award and reports.
  • Proof of incorporation as a legal entity and proof of location in Wisconsin.
  • Indicate which officer(s) is a current Marquette University student, faculty or staff member.
  • Number of employees (both full time and part time).
  • List and describe any funding the business has received to date.
  • Detail any intellectual property involved in this proposal.

Specific information for “Budget and Justification of Budget”

  • Applicants will be required to provide a detailed budget that indicates how each cost is related to an eligible activity.
  • Budget justification is required for all proposed expenditures.
  • Funds may be used for a variety of expenses, such as:
    • Business filing fees
    • Business services
    • Development/project management tools
    • Legal/accounting expenses
    • Market research
    • Training and education
    • Subscriptions to data services
    • Office/lab rent
    • Web/hosting services
    • Software developer service fee
    • Analytic tools
    • Travel expenses
    • Prototype or minimum viable product (MVP) development
    • Salary necessary to accomplish eligible activities
  • Awarded funds may not be used for:
    • Basic research support
    • Indirect costs

Proposal evaluation criteria

The Enterprise Seed Fund Investment Committee will evaluate the applications, conduct pre-award interviews and select the awards. The Investment Committee comprises select university faculty with appropriate expertise in areas such as innovation, entrepreneurship and business development; the associate director of the Kohler Center; and members of the Wisconsin entrepreneurial community.

Criteria used to evaluate applicants will include:

  • Alignment with Marquette’s mission and strategic plan
  • Quality of management team
  • Clear explanation of the product/service and the problem it solves (i.e., the customer need)
  • Development stage and the likely quality of the product/service
  • Size of the market, and the ability of the business to penetrate that market
  • Competition and the competitive advantage of the product/service
  • Viable business model
  • Potential revenue and profit margin
  • Potential return on investment
  • Understanding of funding needs, and the impact of the seed funds on the business
  • Clear measures of success for the business

Project reporting requirements

Awardees are required to submit quarterly reports to the Office of Research and Innovation (carmela.ruffolo@marquette.edu). These reports will include the information required by WEDC; reports due dates are listed below. WEDC Exhibit B form and “Business Reporting” forms are to be used for these reports.

The WEDC reporting will include:

  • Information about awardees (company name and location, CEO/owner name, company description and industry sector)
  • Current level of full- and part-time employment for each company
  • Dollar amount of additional capital investments raised each year by the company by type
  • Current monthly wages paid by each company
  • In addition to the information required on the WEDC forms ORI will require the following information from awardees:
    • Progress made towards grant goals; milestones achieved
    • Commercialization milestones achieved
    • Impact of grant on the business’s development/growth
    • Dates met with mentors and outcomes of the meetings
    • Programming sessions attended at the Kohler Center – awardees need to attend three
    • Detailed report of the expenditures of funds

Source: WisBusiness: The Marquette University Enterprise Seed Fund is taking applications for its third round of funding. | Wisconsin Technology Council