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Cultivating an Entrepreneurial Ethos

Innovation Transfer Program

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The TomKat Center's Innovation Transfer Program assists Stanford University faculty, staff, and students in commercializing breakthrough technologies and innovations in sustainability.

Grants are awarded to develop prototypes, to refine business plans, and to conduct customer trials and market research. The teams, which mostly comprise Stanford students, must have a Stanford faculty advisor to compete for a grant. The program connects mentors with each funded project for ongoing guidance as the teams assess market opportunities, plan the commercialization of their inventions, and prepare to externalize their product. The program helps participants develop a business-centric approach through Stanford resources, like the Stanford Entrepreneurship Network. We also introduce teams to relevant entrepreneurs, executives with experience in startups, and venture investors.

Full list of ventures

Program metrics and successes

Innovation Transfer Program 10-year videos


For questions about the Innovation Program including scope and eligibility please contact the Innovation Program's executive director, Brian Bartholomeusz;  (650) 723-3870

For questions about the application process and ongoing grant administration please contact Danica Sarlya;  (650) 724-1524

Grant Guidelines and Application

Innovation Transfer Grants

The TomKat Center awards grants to initiate the commercialization of impactful Stanford sustainable energy innovations. The award amount will be based on the maturity of the project, a detailed budget, and clearly defined goals and deliverables. Diverse, representative teams are particularly encouraged to apply.

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. The project must have a clearly identifiable innovation component. Proposals must include an active faculty member (PI) at Stanford. 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:
Does the innovation have an explicit or implicit sustainable energy or sustainability element?
Is there a clearly identified Stanford Innovation component?
Is there a proof-of-concept already? We support technology commercialization not technology development.
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 validated market need or potential impact?
Do the market entry strategy and business model make sense?
Will the award help significantly move the technology towards commercialization?
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‚Äôs 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.