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Translational Funding

Raising money may be required to take a startup's product to market. You may take advantage of funding from the university or pursue external funding. Additional startup support for operations and new business formation is available through the INVOHub program.

Northwestern Funds

Northwestern funds are supported in part by generous Northwestern Alumni and Northwestern’s Central Administration.

Lakeside Discovery

Established in June 2018, Lakeside Discovery is a collaboration between the Northwestern University and Deerfield Management with a mission to accelerate the translation of transformative biomedical technologies out of the University.  On a rolling basis, Lakeside seeks new target-based drug discovery concepts, especially projects that demonstrate a genetic connection between the target of interest and the disease intended to be treated. 

Project proposals do not require the identification of chemical or biological matter, but do require strong evidence for the target’s role in a disease process. Preferred projects also reflect the following considerations: a strong biological rationale; the availability and fidelity of preclinical models; unmet clinical need; and differentiation from existing approaches.  

Project selection occurs following a phased application process which includes the generation of a development plan to take the project from its current stage to the clinic. Key benefits to selected Lakeside projects are research funding for the investigator’s lab, execution of all required aspects of preclinical development through partnership with a team of drug discovery experts, and access to a global network of integrated drug discovery capabilities. Eligibility requires a full-time Northwestern faculty PI. While IP is not required, any IP that enables the project should belong to Northwestern.  

Please contact to discuss potential project ideas.  For more information, visit the Lakeside Discovery website.


NewCures is a Northwestern-based biomedical accelerator that was founded in 2018. Its mission is to advance the development of novel therapeutics from Northwestern research, and thereby capture the value of new innovations, strengthen Northwestern's therapeutic pipeline, and ultimately expedite the translation of early-stage research discoveries into next-generation medical treatments. Since its inception, NewCures has shepherded nine projects, providing critical value in their respective data packages.

NewCures continues to seek new projects on a rolling basis. The program welcomes applications from full-time Northwestern faculty who have molecular-based therapeutic projects that have an identified biological target with a translational or commercialization trajectory. Eligibility requires that intellectual property is or will be owned by Northwestern.

Project selection involves a phased application process. First, an initial review is conducted to prioritize projects based on tractability and potential for commercialization. Second, a strategic developmental plan is crafted by both PIs and expert consultants which is then evaluated by an External Advisory Board (EAB) who offer deep and broad experience in stage-gated decisions. If projects receive approval by the EAB, the project is officially enrolled into the accelerator and NewCures identifies and funds Northwestern cores or CROs to carry out key milestone studies. Such data enhance the reproducibility and confidence in key data by potential strategic partners.

Please contact to discuss potential project ideas. For more information, visit the NewCures website.


The N.XT fund is designed to promote early stage Northwestern technologies to the next stages of commercialization. For more information, visit the N.XT website.  


NUseeds fund is designed to support and accelerate business development for early stage student start-ups. For more information, visit the NUseeds website.


VentureCat is a day-long showcase and celebration of Northwestern’s most promising student-founded startups. The event culminates with a pitch competition, in which over $100,000 in prize money will be distributed to student ventures.

VentureCat is an evolution of the Northwestern University Venture Challenge (NUVC), which was originally introduced in 2007. From inception, NUVC has distinguished itself from other pitch competitions around the globe by organizing competitors in industry-specific tracks, which leverages the rich expertise of distinct schools from across the university in both graduate and undergraduate programs, and awarding top teams with non-dilutive capital. Visit the VentureCat website.

Government Grants 


Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) offer funding in the form of contracts or grants. The projects must have commercialization potential and meet the requirements set by the US Government Research and Development needs.  Approximately $2.5B is awarded through these grants per year. Companies must be meet qualifications outlined by the programs. Visit the SBIR/STTR website.

Northwestern participates in the IL University Incubator Network which offers access to free SBIR/STTR consultation.  Please contact your Invention Manager or INVO if you are interested in applying for this type of opportunity. 

INVO, COI, SR and IRB created this one pager highlighting key questions and answers related to Northwestern researchers and SBIRs/STTRs.

Business Plan Circuit

Business plan competitions are another source of funding. Kellogg summarizes the business plan circuit for Northwestern students at its website.

Kellogg Healthcare Entrepreneurship Business Plan Competition

On April 29, Kellogg will launch its inaugural Healthcare Entrepreneur Business Plan Competition. The competition is open to early stage healthcare companies, with a strong affiliation with Kellogg: at least one active founder or key management team member must be currently seeking a Kellogg degree or have been awarded a Kellogg degree in the past three years. Healthcare business plan finalists will be selected by faculty and assigned a time to present the morning of April 29. Judges will be Kellogg alumni with successful track records as healthcare investors or entrepreneurs.

1st place: $30K
2nd place: $10K

The application is available here. The deadline is Friday, April 14. Questions should be directed to Peter McNerney at