Funding Resources

Typical level of investor interest at this stage



VentureLab Incubator*

VentureLab Incubator supports the development of new entrepreneurs and the growth of promising early-stage ventures.

Since its first cohort in 2000, VentureLab has provided nearly $1.5 million in grants to upwards of 275 companies, supporting nearly 450 founding team members.

VentureLab welcomes applications from any team with at least one founder who is a current student, faculty, or staff at U.Va, including College at Wise. Submissions by U.Va. alumni from the past three years will also be considered. Cofounders not affiliated and alumni who graduated in 2016 or prior may participate in VentureLab as long as the primary cofounder remains an active participant.

VentureLab is an initiative of the Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, which has sponsored an early-stage, summer incubator program for more than twenty years.  VentureLab represents the latest evolution of this program, which was previously housed at the UVA iLab.

VentureLab Benefits:

  • Up to $7,500 in non-dilutive grant funding for each venture;
  • Additional supplemental support, up to $5,000, available for current Darden students (founder/co-founder) selected for the program;
  • Dedicated workspace during the summer residency (June through August);
  • Regular workshops, online resources and special events;
  • Legal support (e.g., incorporation, operating agreements);
  • Mentorship and advisory support from experienced founders and industry experts;
  • Access to community and connections;
  • Immersion in the principles of effectuation;
  • Eligibility to apply for the Katherine Carr Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence;
  • Potential for investment consideration by the UVA LVG Seed Fund.

VentureLab Expectations:

  • Active minimum viable product/service (an “MVP”) and consistent product/service development for the duration of the program;
  • Full-time participation during the residential portion of the program (June - August);
  • Attendance at key events throughout the year;
  • Being a positive and contributing member of and resource to the cohort.

VentureLab Timeline (2020)

  • 6 December 2019: eCup early access interviews
  • 6 January 2020: Online application available
  • 24 January 2020: Application submission deadline
  • 5 – 7 February 2020: Applicant interviews
  • March through May: Limited programming (e.g., law clinic, legal support, mentor engagement and introduction to the principles of effectuation)
  • June through early August: full-time summer residency, active participation in workspace
  • Mid-August: VentureLab Demo Night @ UVA Darden (Charlottesville, VA)
  • September through November: on-going check-ins, online engagement
  • November: VentureLab Demo Night @ UVA Darden DC Metro (Rosslyn, VA)

Note: Teams without a UVA affiliation should consider the Catalyst Accelerator Program. If you have any specific questions about the program or the selection process, please contact Jason Brewster, the program’s director.

Contact: Jason Brewster |


National Science Foundation's (NSF) Innovation Corps (i-Corps) is a public-private partnership program designed to teach university graduate and faculty research scientists with STEM related technologies to identify valuable product/service opportunities that can emerge from academic research and provide entrepreneurship training to participants.

The UVA i-Corps program* is a proof-of-concept program that accelerates the pace of moving funded research towards commercialization. The program teaches the essentials of the Business Model Canvas and how to complete effective customer discovery (not sales). Program participants can apply for up to $2,700 in grant funding to conduct customer discovery, market research or purchase supplies to create a prototype. Successful completion of the I-Corps Site program positions teams to apply to the NSF National I-Corps Program, an intensive seven-week program that provides up to $50,000 in grant funding.

Contact: Elizabeth Pyle, Associate Director for Technology Entrepreneurship, Director, National Science Foundation iCorps Program | 434.924.6118 |

​Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund (CRCF)

The CRCF advances science- and technology-based research, development, and commercialization to drive economic growth in Virginia, create and foster high-potential technology companies in the Commonwealth, and to encourage and strengthen collaboration and partnerships between the public and private sector. The Fund seeks to advance Virginia's position in strategically important areas including, but not limited to human health, cyber security, smart communities, and unmanned systems. 

The CRCF Matching Funds Program assists qualified organizations with commercializing qualified research or technologies with high potential for economic benefit to Virginia and/or leveraging federal, private, and non-Commonwealth of Virginia funds designated for commercialization. Each application and award is to address the research or commercialization of a discrete technology.

Contact: Nancy Vorona | VP Research Investment, Center of Innovative Technology | 703.689.3043 |

UVA Translational Research Funds

The mission of the Coulter Translational Partnership program is to promote, develop, and support translational research collaborations between biomedical engineers and clinicians in order to accelerate the successful translation of appropriate innovations to improve patient care. The Coulter program cultivates, evaluates and funds promising translational projects with the goal of moving innovative technologies to clinical application through commercialization. Projects are supported and mentored by a team of professionals that provide the additional guidance and expertise necessary to reach a successful commercial endpoint. This program was endowed by the Coulter Foundation for $10MM and matched by UVA.

Contact: David Chen, Coulter Program Director & Instructor in Design | 434.243.7357 |

The Biomedical Innovation Fund was created by The Ivy Foundation to support biomedical innovation and translational research projects. The goal of this program is to support research projects that address unmet clinical needs and lead to improvements in health care. Examples of desirable outcomes include improved diagnosis and treatment of disease through inventions and patents, commercial products, commercial partnerships, licenses and start-up companies. Funding is from the Ivy Foundation and the School of Medicine.

Contact: Sharon Krueger | 434.297.7482 |

The LaunchPad fund supports collaborative translational research projects that propose innovative and viable solutions to curing, treating or diagnosing Diabetes. The program was created to leverage the robust discovery capacity at UVA and strategically fund those early-stage research projects holding promise for achieving translational outcomes (such as clinical testing, creation of licensable IP, formation of a start-up company). The program is interested in all proposals with potential application in the Type 1 Diabetes setting. Proposed research impacting both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes are considered for funding. Funding is from a local philanthropist.

Contact: Sharon Krueger | 434.297.7482 |


The UVA Entrepreneurship Cup

The UVA Entrepreneurship Cup is a University wide annual $100,000 three-part competition open to all UVA undergraduates, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows.

Stage I: Concept

The purpose of the Concept stage of the competition is to surface and seed ideas from all parts of the university at every stage of development. Students are encouraged to come up with out-of-the-box ideas that could be translated into compelling projects. Submissions are not expected to be a full business plan, and will not be penalized for not having a working prototype, fully developed team, forecast, revenues, etc.

Stage II: Discovery

The Discovery Competition is based upon the principles of effectuation, a problem solving process that expert entrepreneurs undertake after they have conceived of their idea (Stage I: Concept), but before they invested significant time and money into the project (Stage III: Launch!). By focusing upon the “fit” between customer needs or wants and the project’s product or service, as well as the personal skills, connections and effort students bring to this challenge, this stage of the competition requires students to—and rewards students who—demonstrate that they have taken steps to “de-risk” their idea, perhaps the most crucial step in the startup process.

Stage III: Launch!

This stage of the competition is about commitment, sustainability, and scale. Are the students committed to the venture? Is it likely that that the venture, whether a for-profit or nonprofit, could be sustainable (i.e., financially and operationally viable)? Could this venture grow to have the impact and/or the upside imagined by the founders?

Contact: M.J. Toms | 434.924.4408 |

The Gallant Challenge

The Galant Challenge connects seed-stage ventures from the UVA community with potential investors. Individual angel investors and seed capital firms who regularly invest in seed-stage startups connect with, evaluate, and when the opportunity is compelling, invest in participating ventures. The competition is open to ventures founded by any UVA graduate or individual affiliated with UVA. To date, the Galant Challenge has resulted in nearly $1 million of venture investments.

Contact: Eric Martin | 804.512.7654 |

Catalyst Accelerator Program

Open to UVA and the greater Charlottesville community, Catalyst is a long-format accelerator, providing early-stage startups in central Virginia with nine months of program support, including: $20,000 in grant funding, dedicated workspace, experienced founders-in-residence, monthly programming, dedicated staff, a large network of industry experts, and access to nearly $50,000 in additional resources.

The Catalyst accelerator program is a multi-stakeholder initiative, thanks to funding from and a collaboration among a range of public and private organizations in Central Virginia. This broad collaboration leverages the resources of the wider ecosystem to not only support the select set of high-potential startups selected for the accelerator, but also trigger positive impacts upon the community-at-large.

Contact: David Touve | Senior Director, i.Lab at UVA | 434.924.8047 |

SBIR/STTR and Matching Funds

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a highly competitive program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) that has the potential for commercialization. Through a competitive awards-based program, SBIR enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization. By including qualified small businesses in the nation's R&D arena, high-tech innovation is stimulated and the United States gains entrepreneurial spirit as it meets its specific research and development needs.

The Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) is another program that expands funding opportunities in the federal innovation research and development (R&D) arena. Central to the program is expansion of the public/private sector partnership to include the joint venture opportunities for small businesses and nonprofit research institutions. The unique feature of the STTR program is the requirement for the small business to formally collaborate with a research institution in Phase I and Phase II. STTR's most important role is to bridge the gap between performance of basic science and commercialization of resulting innovations.

The SBIR/STTR Matching Funds Programs accelerate commercialization of high-potential research or technologies by Virginia-based technology businesses that have received a recent SBIR or STTR Phase I or II award from a federal agency in eligible industry sectors. SBIR and STTR Matching Funds awards support commercialization of the technology supported by the federal award; uses may include filling the gap between Phase submissions and/or assisting with commercialization activities not supported by the federal award. Associated SBIR or STTR awards may not be tied to existing CRCF awards.

Contact: 703.689.3000 |

The City of Charlottesville Office of Economic Development (OED) has created the Cville Match program to assist high-growth and expanding City-based companies. The program is designed to provide local matching funds to the Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP) and the Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund (CRCF). The VJIP program is designed to promote business expansion through recruiting and training assistance, while providing incentives to reduce human resource development costs. Funding and services are offered to companies creating new jobs or experiencing technological change. The CRCFadvances early stage development of companies seeking to commercialize products. Cville Match supports the three private sector funds included in the CRCF: Commercialization Fund, STTR Matching Funds and SBIR Matching Funds.

Contact: Chris Engel | Director, OED | 434.970.3111 |


CIT GAP Funds is a family of seed- and early-stage investment funds placing near-equity and equity investments in Virginia-based technology, life science, and cleantech companies. CIT GAP Funds invests in companies with a high potential for achieving rapid growth and generating significant economic return for entrepreneurs, co-investors and the Commonwealth of Virginia. CIT’s family of funds includes:

  • GAP BioLife Fund – A seed fund investing exclusively in life science companies.

  • GAP Tech Fund – A seed fund investing in IT and technology companies.

  • Commonwealth Energy Fund (CEF), a seed fund investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy companies.

  • Virginia Founders Fund, a seed fund designed to increase investment opportunities for Virginia-based entrepreneurs traditionally underrepresented in venture capital.

Contact: CIT | 703.689.3000 |


Crowdfunding is a method of raising capital through the collective efforts of a large pool of individuals—primarily online via social media and crowdfunding platforms—and leverages their networks for greater reach and exposure.






Angel Investors

Friends + Family Fundraising is one of the most common forms of startup funding and often the best chance for entrepreneurs to secure money to launch a new venture. Business savvy friends and family investors can transform into motivated advisors and can also lead to securing money from future investors. Funding could be a gift, loan, or an equity investment in the business and should be legally recorded in writing.

The Charlottesville Angel Network is a growing group of nearly 70 accredited investors and family offices. We are independent investors who make our own independent investment decisions. We are successful male and female executives, entrepreneurs, scientists, and engineers. We are individually and collectively eager to apply our skills and put our connections and capital to work to help entrepreneurs succeed.

Contact: Tracey Greene | 434.242.5886 |

CAV Angels is a non-profit club housing the only angel group specifically catered towards UVA alumni. CAV Angels’ mission is twofold: first, to provide education on investment in private, early stage companies to members of the UVA family; second, to facilitate investment by members of the club in early stage growth companies founded, owned, or managed by members of the UVA family.

Contact: CAV Angels | 434.218.5783 |

Angel Capital Association

UVA LVG Seed Fund

Structured within the UVA Licensing & Ventures Group, the $10 million UVA LVG Seed Fund is uniquely positioned to assess new ventures created from UVA research ideas and discoveries. The investment team works closely with the licensing professionals to identify opportunities, and are governed by an oversight committee comprised of leaders in early-stage investing and startup development who are all UVA alumni. Investments from this fund are typically joined by other investors in each respective industry. Since the UVA LVG Seed Fund supports UVA technologies, its portfolio spans across several industries including cybersecurity and medical devices.



Apply for funding


Contact: Bob Creeden | Managing Director, UVA LVG Seed Fund & New Ventures | 434.924.0462 |

Venture Capital

Venture Capital firms raise funds from limited partners and invest this capital into startups or growing companies to help them accelerate growth of the company to an exit that will provide a return on the firm’s investment. Venture firms vary in size of funds under management ($50MM to $1B), the focus of investing stage (Seed, Series A, Series B, etc.) and the targeted industry/markets (life sciences, technology, instruments, energy, etc.)



Strictly VC

Private Equity

Similar to venture firms, private equity will invest in a business with the goal of increasing value, through growth, of the company/investment for a return on that investment. Unlike venture, the focus of private equity firms is normally more mature companies who have revenue, teams and defined markets and products.