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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.


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.  Please direct any questions to


Northwestern is one of nine institutions participating in CBC-HITES (CBC Hub for Innovative Technology and Entrepreneurship in the Sciences).  CBC-HITES provides Chicagoland academic innovators with everything they need to develop scientific discoveries into biomedical applications.  It is a new proof-of-concept biopharma center funded by the NIH Research Evaluation and Commercialization (REAC) Hub program. REAC hubs are designed to provide academic innovators with product development education, industry connections, project management, and seed funding necessary to develop biomedical applications.

CBC-HITES is a funding and analytics resource for academic researchers from nine Chicagoland institutions built on the processes and infrastructure created by the Chicago Biomedical Consortium and is housed in Northwestern Medicine’s Comprehensive Transplant Center Funding opportunities include “early” awards (up to $75K) for projects that need an enabling experiment and “late” awards (up to $250K) for more progressed projects (see RFA). CBC-HITES also provides support in the analysis and help in moving inventions into the commercial sphere.  

For more information, visit the CBC-HITES website.  Please direct any questions to

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.


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.