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Startup Programs & Opportunities

Startup accelerators and incubators often approach INVO to share upcoming programs.  With many virtual opportunities or those with limited travel, Northwestern startups may benefit in participating in the expanded network beyond the Chicagoland area.  On this page, we will aim to list possible programs for our startups to peruse.

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AdMaCom is Europe’s only accelerator program that caters directly to the unique needs of Advanced Materials startups (completely equity free).  The next edition is from October 4th - 15th 2021, and successful applicants can expect a focus on:

For interested startups, spin-offs and innovative researchers, applications can be submitted here by August 15th.


Creative Destruction Lab


The Creative Destruction Lab is a business mentorship opportunity built to help scientist-founders commercialize their novel inventions and build massively scalable businesses. The program is delivered yearly as series of five full-day objective-setting mentorship sessions, once every 8 weeks between October and June. At these sessions, admitted ventures meet our mentors (experienced entrepreneurs, investors, scientists, and economists) to set and prioritize 8-week sprint-style business objectives. Our mentors are concentrated into "streams" to help provide industry-specific guidance to ventures based on the technology area/industry they are working in. Streams include Food/Ag, Space, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Quantum, Risk/Insurance, Oceans, Climate, Fintech, Energy, Commerce, Advanced Manufacturing/Robotics (Prime) and Supply Chain.

Since 2012, we have supported over 1500 deep tech startups and helped them generate over $14 billion in equity value. The program is fully funded by partnerships and does not require any equity, IP or fees to participate. The catch: 8-week sprints are fast, and only ~40% of admitted teams graduate. A best-fit applicant is an early-stage technology-based venture that has not yet raised their Series A round, has a prototype completed or nearing completion (of some degree of validation  data), and is looking for feedback on their business objectives as they raise money and scale over the next 9-12 months. Our tenth annual cohort starts October 2021. The application deadline is July 30th.

CONTACT: or download our CDL webinar for more details.

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Project Enginuity, a new initiative in North America supported by Chase, is designed to accelerate and empower business founders nationally to secure non-dilutive capital through SBA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) government awards — and advance entrepreneurial growth, research and development (R&D). Dedicated to increasing equity and inclusion in the technology sector, Project Enginuity seeks to identify 60 qualified cohort participants. 

Participants will receive training, coaching and grant writing expertise to assist with applying for highly competitive SBIR awards ranging from $50K-$250K (Phase I) and up to $750K-$1.5M (Phase II).

Key Dates:

CONTACT: with any questions about this initiative.

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IndieBio, the world’s leading biotech accelerator devoted to funding and building seed-stage life sciences companies supports newly established life sciences companies that are looking for funding.  IndieBio's mission is to transform scientists into entrepreneurs by providing them the resources to commercialize a patent, scientific breakthrough, or licensed technology with applications in the life sciences. Twice a year, IndieBio selects 10 to 15 early-stage companies to partake in an intensive 4-month program in New York City. Companies are provided with $525K in funding, rent-free lab and co-working space, dedicated educational programming and mentorship, and access to IndieBio’s huge network of alumni, investors, entrepreneurs, press, and corporate partners. The program culminates in a Demo Day, during which graduating founders will have the opportunity to present their progress to 500+ investors and corporate partners to secure follow-on funding. 

CONTACT:  Lindsay Atkeson


Chain Reaction Innovations

COHORT 6 APPLICATION OPENS: September 21, 2021
APPLICATION DEADLINE:  October 31, 2021, 5pm CST

Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI) is a two-year program for innovators focusing on energy and science technologies. Each year, four to six teams are selected to join CRI. Program participants will receive the financial and technical support needed to perform early-stage research and development (R&D) that may launch energy or manufacturing businesses in the future.  The 2-year program teaches entrepreneurship skills needed to develop transformative cleantech and innovations in advanced manufacturing.

CRI will give teams of innovators a two-year runway to develop and scale their technologies while being supported through fellowship funding that covers salary, benefits, and use of laboratory equipment and office space. Through a partnership with mentor organizations, CRI participants will get assistance developing business strategies, conducting market research, and finding long-term financing and potential commercial partners. If you’d like to apply to the program, please read the CRI FAQs for applicants.  Program details can be found here.

If you’d like to pre-apply, click here.


Midwest I-Corps Node Programs


The Midwest I-Corps Node (MWIN) offers access to various local I-CORPS programsthat help participating teams test the value proposition of their innovative ideas.   For more information, visit here.   For the current schedule, visit here.