Innovation Seed Grant

The 2024 Innovation Seed Grant Competition invites the region’s brightest minds to design or prototype innovative technology using 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.

Applications are accepted through Friday, March 15, 2024. To apply, first submit your application to the 2024 Innovation Seed Grant Application Form. Then complete your proposal based on the 2024 Innovation Seed Grant Proposal Template. If your organization does not allow access to Google Docs, please use a personal account to fill out the online application.

Have a question about project feasibility? Every Wednesday from 3:00 – 5:00 pm, the Singh Center for Nanotechnology runs an Open Forum for anyone working with this technology, primarily focusing on providing advice on device fabrication. All are welcome to attend the Open Forum. We encourage all companies/teams to take advantage of it should you need assistance in nailing down the particulars for your proposal or would like some general feedback or assistance at any time. For more information about our facilities, visit our Getting Started page.

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, 2024 – March 31, 2025, 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 working at the Center.
  • Companies can only be awarded up to a total of two Seed Grants.

If accepted, finalists must 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 March 15, 2024
  • Winners Announced – on or before March 29, 2024

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?
  • 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?

You will be asked to submit a proposal at the end of the application. The Proposal must be submitted as a PDF file of at most four (4) pages. The four-page proposal should include the following:

  1. Project Summary
  2. Problem Statement, Background, and Motivation
  3. Technical Feasibility
  4. Equipment Use and Project Timeline
  5. Description of Background Intellectual Property is required, if applicable.
  6. Impact of the Innovation Seed Grant Funding
  7. Biographies of the primary company/team members working on the project.
Please use this proposal template. After clicking the link, go to File and download your preferred format for editing.

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


Applications are accepted through Friday, March 15, 2024. To apply, go to the 2024 Innovation Seed Grant Application form. If your organization does not allow access to Google Docs, please use a personal account to fill out the online application.

The Singh Center for Nanotechnology gratefully acknowledges the National Science Foundation’s NNCI program through NSF Grant Award NNCI-2025608 for its contributions towards this effort.