2022 Innovation Seed Grant Competition

The 2022 Innovation Seed Grant Competition invites the region’s brightest minds to design or prototype innovative technology through the use of nanotechnology-related tools and equipment at the Singh Center for Nanotechnology.

This grant is funded by the NSF National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure Program under grant NNCI-2025608 to encourage and facilitate external engagement and to promote innovation within the Mid-Atlantic region.

The competition is available to:

  • Startup companies/businesses with less than 50 employees, and 
  • External academic research groups that are NOT affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania.
  • NOT ELIGIBLE: University of Pennsylvania academic research groups are NOT eligible for this grant.

Applications from research groups and startup entities who have not previously engaged the Singh Center for Nanotechnology will bear more weight in consideration.  

  • Projects may include both new technology and improvements to existing technology.
  • Grants DO NOT cover the cost of materials purchased through the Center.
  • Grants can ONLY be used at the Singh Center for Nanotechnology lab/equipment time at the three core facilities:
    • Quattrone Nanofabrication Facility
    • Nanoscale Characterization Facility
    • Scanning and Local Probe Facility
  • Grants DO NOT cover other facilities or labs around the University of Pennsylvania campus.
  • All work done through the Seed Grant MUST be self-performed (i.e. neither Singh Center Staff assisted work or remote projects would be covered under the grant)
  • Grants can be used for both direct facility usage by the awardee, with initial equipment training and consultation provided by Singh Center Staff. (NOTE: Forfeiture of the grant will occur if the company/team is inactive for four months.)
  • Grants MUST be used from April 1, 2022 – March 31, 2023, or they are forfeit.
  • Awardees MUST sign the standard Singh Center for Nanotechnology Use of Facility Agreement and the Innovation Seed Grant Compliance Agreement prior to April 1, 2020.
  • Companies can only be awarded up to a total of two Seed Grants.

If accepted, applicants will be required to sign a Use of Facility Agreement (UFA) and Innovation Seed Grant Compliance Agreement. A $2 million insurance liability policy is required for the UFA.

  • Applications must be submitted by February 1, 2022
  • Winners Announced – February 28, 2022.

A Judging Panel with expertise in engineering, science, computing, and business, will use the following criteria in their evaluations:

  • Novelty. What problem are you trying to solve? How novel is the idea? How does the solution compare to other concepts addressing the same problem?
  • Technical Feasibility. How technically viable is the idea? Do the tools/instrumentation required and the number of work hours proposed to make sense given the proposed solution?
  • Societal Impact. How would this innovation impact society? Could this lead to other technical breakthroughs?
  • Impact of Grant Funding. How much of an impact will the award provide to the applicants in bringing the innovation to fruition? Could work accomplished provide the path in securing additional funding?And if you’re a startup:
  • Market Size and Demand. How big of a market is there for this innovation? What is the current demand for this type of innovation?
  1. Problem Statement: 
    1. What is the problem you are trying to solve?
    2. Description of the idea and an explanation as to why it is new.
    3. Motivation and societal impact of the idea.
    4. What are the most significant technical challenges and why?
  2. Technical Feasibility of the idea and Singh Center for Nanotechnology resources:
    1. Indicate the equipment that will be required for your project. Be specific indicating why each is needed.
    2. You must provide an estimate of the number of hours required to complete the project. This should include:
      1. High-level Work Breakdown Structure and Project Management Schedule that should include, but is not limited to:
        1. List of each key tool along with a description of how each tool will be used during each quarter.
        2. Estimation of the number of hours required to complete each step of the project using each tool.
        3. Smallest feature size that may be required.
        4. Materials to be used on the samples, such as resists, metals, and dielectrics.
  3. Potential Business Case (for startups). 
    1. What are the market potential and commercial viability of the project? For projects focused on societal change, please provide a description of the potential impact on society.
  4. Applicant Bio: A 1-2 paragraph biography on each of the primary company or research team members that will be working on the project.

(Please Note: Every Wednesday from 2:00 – 4:00 pm, the Singh Center for Nanotechnology runs an Open Forum for anyone working with this technology, with the primary focus on providing advice on device fabrication. All are welcome to attend the Open Forum and we encouraged all companies/teams to take advantage of it, should you need assistance in nailing down the particulars for your proposal or would just like some general feedback or assistance at any time. For more information, please contact Eric Johnston at ericdj@seas.upenn.edu )

All participants are responsible for keeping their intellectual property and all other confidential information confidential. Please refrain from submitting any confidential information.


This 2022 SEED GRANT application period is officially closed.

The Singh Center for Nanotechnology gratefully acknowledges the National Science Foundation’s NNCI program through NSF Grant Award NNCI-1542153 for its contributions towards this effort.