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UARF’s Spark Fund provides resources and support to develop the proof needed to transform UA technology into a validated prototype or process that can be licensed to a scalable startup company.


What does Spark Fund provide?


  • Detailed feedback to all applicants about concrete steps they can take to improve the commercial potential of their technology

  • Access to mentors, experts and interns to provide detailed assessment of commercial strengths and weaknesses for those technologies selected for due diligence

  • Up to $150,000 in funding per project for prototyping and testing required to prove that a technology can meet customer needs


What does an ideal Spark Fund opportunity look like?


The following is strongly encouraged if you plan to apply to Spark Fund:

  • At least a provisional patent application has been filed (if not, fill out this form and submit it to to start the process)

  • Proof of concept works has been completed in the lab, but resources are still needed to, for example, fabricate a full prototype, conduct more extensive testing, and/or produce prototypes to test with potential customers

  • The technology is supported by a team of at least one faculty member and one or more students

  • Your team understands the potential market for your technology and has talked to real customers to confirm this solves a problem for them

  • Your team has completed UA’s NSF I-Corps Sites program or I-Corps@Ohio (if not, please contact to discuss enrolling in I-Corps)


What is expected of my students and I if we participate in Spark Fund?


You are the expert in your technology and your engagement is critical to supporting the success of your project:

  • Regular meetings with the Spark Fund staff and your team (every 2-4 weeks)

  • Responsiveness in answering both technical questions and questions about your opinion on markets and competitive products

  • Honesty in communicating both technical strengths and challenges you experience throughout the process

  • Willingness to engage with people with different backgrounds to more fully understand the market for your technology

  • Semi-annual written reports on progress and milestones


How do I apply for Spark Fund?


The first step is to fill out a one-page Executive Summary. Details on the full process can be found here.