Skip to content Skip to navigation

Innovation Transfer Grants

The TomKat Center awards grants to initiate the commercialization process of Stanford sustainable energy innovations with the ultimate goal of broadly deploying  advanced sustainable energy technologies. These grants provide support to bridge the gap between academic research and commercialization, and provide needed resources to develop and refine a concept to the point where it can attract sufficient external investment or is licensed or commercialized through an existing company.

  • The award amount will be based on the maturity of the project, a detailed budget, and clearly defined goals and deliverables.
  • Proposals will generally be limited to grants under $50,000.  Grantees who make significant progress toward validating the commercial viability of their concepts can apply for supplementary funding. In exceptional cases and with strong budgetary justification higher amounts may be considered.
  • The grants are intended to develop advanced working prototypes, conduct customer and market trials, and refine business plans over a period of 3-12 months.


A committee selected from the  Innovation Transfer Program staff, advisors, and affiliates provides input in the evaluation of all applications. External individuals participate under our Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Guidelines.

Please note:

  • Funding must be for projects undertaken at or originating at Stanford University.
  • Proposals must be submitted by an active faculty member (PI) at Stanford. In certain exceptional cases proposals may be submitted by research staff or students (with support from a faculty sponsor).
  • Outside and cross-disciplinary collaborations are welcome.
  • This is a competitive selection process and only the top-ranked proposals will be funded.

Selection Criteria for Innovation Grants

Some of the criteria for selection include:

  • Is this a novel and potentially disruptive sustainable energy technology?
  • Would this technology have broad, fundamental implications? Cross-disciplinary applications are especially desirable.
  • Is there a proof-of-concept already?
  • Is there a likely, clear path to success - for example IP, device, code, etc. - within a reasonable timeframe?
  • Is this technology likely to be spun-out within 12 months?
  • Is there a strong market need or potential impact?
  • Does this technology have a high likelihood of being licensed?
  • Is there a business model that makes sense?
  • Will the award greatly help move the technology towards commercialization?
  • What is the likelihood of technological success?
  • Is the proposed budget realistic in the context of the project scope?
  • Is TomKat Center support most appropriate and critical to the success of this idea?


IP created by Grantees at Stanford shall be submitted to the Office of Technology Licensing as per normal Stanford University practice, with an indication that TomKat Center funding has been used to support the work. Copies of such communications should be submitted to the Center. Ownership of intellectual property is governed by Stanford University policy: See Research Policy Handbook 9.1. If Stanford University licenses a patent or copyright (except for institutional works) on which you are an inventor/author, you are entitled to receive a portion of the royalty that Stanford University receives from the licensee in accordance with Stanford University’s royalty distribution policy. As a condition of their involvement in a center-funded project, advisors and mentors must agree to assign their rights in any center-funded invention to Stanford.


Meetings and activities identified as privileged are by invitation only, are not public, and are conducted with the understanding that volunteer participants are specially invited by the TomKat Center staff for the review of new ideas and mentoring of Grantees on a privileged basis. By agreeing to take part, participants in these activities agree to:

  • Maintain privileged information in the strictest confidence;
  • Not use the information for personal gain at the expense of the Grantees, Stanford University or the TomKat Center; and
  • Withdraw from any activity where there might be a conflict of interest.

Advisors and Mentors must avoid positions of conflict of interest wherever possible and notify TomKat Center staff any time there is a potential conflict. Examples of such situations include, but are not limited to:

  • Receiving privileged information or giving advice on a project when the advisor has a financial stake in a potential competitor;
  • Giving advice on a project when the advisor has a potential financial stake in a spinout from the research. If he/she wants to be involved with the project on a professional level, he/she must notify the researcher and the TomKat Center staff immediately and step back from advising the project;
  • Reviewing a proposal when the advisor has a financial stake in the success of the proposal (such as an interest to invest or a financial stake in a competitor), has a proposal under consideration in the same grant round, or if he/she has a relationship with the team that would make an objective review difficult; 
  • Any time a potential conflict of interest arises, the individual must step away from his/her role causing the conflict, and TomKat Center staff must be notified right away. Together we will determine the next steps.

Submit your Pre-proposal Here