Winter & Fall TechAccel Grants
The TechAccel Grants help students jump-start and accelerate their technologically-based ideas that have business or social impact potential. Teams develop their entrepreneurial skills through a seven-part online training platform and one-on-one business mentorship and project funding for product, process, or service development. The program allows participants to define the core purpose of their startup, clarify their vision to their team and potential investors, speak with actual stakeholders to help test the team’s hypotheses, and have the ability to present an overview of the startup venture in a convincing and clear way as part of a succinct pitch presentation (TechAccel Showcase). This program allows student participants to receive CCR recognition as it is an approved Enriched Educational Opportunities (EEO) program. The grants come out of the Engine Innovation Fund*, which is funded by charitable gifts from alumni and other community donors.
* The Innovation Fund is not an investment fund. Donors are not investing in the companies. Donations made by donors are charitable contributions, which may be tax deductible. Grants are distributed to students through reimbursement of allowed project expenses.
TechAccel (Fall and Winter) Grant Details
- Available for both graduate and undergraduate students
- Funding up to $2,500 per team
- Funding is used to reimburse project related expenses (no stipend offered)
- Projects typically last between 3-6 months (flexible depending on complexity and milestones)
- Personalized coaching and business mentorship provided by an expert in your project's industry
- See eligibility and application process below for more details
- Fall Session-September 13, 2020, 11:59PM (EST)
- Winter Session -January 17, 2021, 11:59PM (EST)
Applications are reviewed within 2-3 weeks after the submission deadlines by members of the McGill Engine team and the Innovation Committee when applicable.
Up to $2,500 in funding to help you develop your startup venture
Personalized coaching and mentorship from one of our TechAccel Mentors
Access to resources that increase your entrepreneurial skill sets and track your progress
Eligibilty and Application Process
- How to start?
- Grant Application Process
- Project Evaluation
- Use and Size of Grant
- Terms of Award
- Giving Back
- Only teams of at least two people are eligible to apply;
- The lead applicant must be a student (undergraduate/graduate) or post-doc registered full-time in a McGill Faculty of Engineering program and in good academic standing;
- Applicant teams must use the funds to advance an entrepreneurial project that is a technologically-based/innovation-driven idea (see How to Start?);
- A team can receive no more than the maximum allowable amount per team;
- A team can re-submit a previously unsuccessful proposal if progress has been made. A team’s additional funding sources will be taken into consideration when reviewing a grant application.
- A team that has prior funding of over $25,000 is not eligible.
There must be some customer/stakeholder validation in order to apply for funding. The Lean Startup methodology and Customer Development Model (see Figure 1 below) are used in order to get an in-depth understanding of customers and their problems so that budding entrepreneurs can strengthen their focus of product development as well as their marketing and sales activities. The Phase 1 process of Customer Discovery is very important since an idea is only a hypothesis until it is tested and validated.
Phase 1 – Customer Discovery-focus is on testing hypotheses and understanding customer problems and needs, in front of customers (“Get out of the building.”)
Phase 2 – Customer Validation – development of a sales model that can be replicated and scaled
Phase 3 – Customer Creation – creating and driving end user demand to scale sales
Phase 4 – Company Building/Scale Company – transitions the organization from one designed for learning and discovery to one of execution
TechAccel grants are available three times per year (Fall, Winter and Summer). Decisions will be made within 2-3 weeks after the deadlines.
We strongly recommend that prior to submitting the project proposal for grant funding the Business Idea Description is submitted and you have reviewed the submission with either the Engine's Associate Director or TechEIRs.
Apply Here: TechAccel Winter 2021 Application.
The application will ask you to attach two documents, please reference the following templates that must be completed and attached to the TechAccel Winter 2021 Application.
- TechAccel Winter 2021 Startup Venture Information & Project Description
- TechAccel Winter 2021 Budget, Milestones, Stakeholder Analysis and Gantt Chart
Request for funding exceeding $1,000 will require a team presentation (10 minutes) to the McGill Engine team (10 minutes Q&A).
Presentation format: similar to business idea description, one slide per question, plus the key milestones, the budget and use of grant funding.
All eligible project applications will be assessed on their merit and undergo a review process by the McGill Engine team. The proposals will be assessed based on the following criteria:
1-Level of technological and business innovation. Does the team have sufficient competitive advantage/differentiation from similar ideas?
2-Educational potential/experiential learning opportunity for students. Will the grant contribute to the team acquiring new business and technical skills?
3-Clearly defined and validated problem. Is the idea/solution appropriate for the problem identified?
4-Plan to build and test an MVP to try and achieve product-market fit. Have appropriate milestones been identified in order to advance the idea towards a viable business/solution?
5-Level of market and impact potential.
The level of funding requests per project is expected to follow the level of maturity (e.g. early-stage projects receive smaller amounts in order to prove the concept, later-stage projects can receive greater amounts since there is less technological risk) and the nature of the technology (e.g. app development receives smaller amounts than medical device development since less funding is required).
The McGill Engine team can make recommendations for changes to the budget and uses of funds that are required for the acceptance and funding of the request.
Guidelines for use of the TechAccel grants are as follows:
Allowable Expenses (purchases made after award notification):
- Hardware parts and materials
- Software licenses (if cannot get free)
- Server hosting (if cannot get free)
- Contractors, outside developer fees up to 25% of the grant
- Items not directly related to the team project, gifts, alcohol
- Team outings, meals
- Personal computer or phone
- Rent for company or housing
- Contractors, outside developers exceeding 25% of the grant
Request for funding can range from $500-$2,500. For teams developing their projects under capstone design will be asked to contribute a minimum of $500 of their own funds towards the project costs.
Students will be reimbursed for their allowed project expenses. They will submit their expense reports via Minerva as outlined here. The student's profile in Minerva should be up to date with the most current information including banking information in order to receive the transfer of funds. If the banking information is not included, a check will be mailed to the address found in the student's Minerva profile. The time to process the expenses is 2-4 weeks.
A mid-term progress report and final report will be due to the Engine associate director and the team's assigned mentor showing progress, outcomes/impacts/learnings, use of funds, and next steps. A mentor will be assigned to the TechAccel grantees in order to help progress the project and accelerate the learnings for the team, under the following mentoring_guidelines_and_commitment.pdf.
The reports and mentor meetings are critical measures of project progress, and enforce accountability for the funds expended as well as accelerated learning and getting to product-market fit faster. In addition, teams must be willing to assist the Faculty of Engineering and the McGill Engine in outreach activities pertaining to technological innovation and entrepreneurship.
TechAccel Grantee Testimonials
"Engine has helped our project get off the ground and has given us the jumpstart we needed to pursue our idea."
Wilfred Mason, Co-Founder, Axon
“Engine been a huge help in getting BaseDash off the ground with resources and unending support from the community of entrepreneurs and innovators at McGill.”
Max Musing, Co-Founder and CEO, BaseDash
“Combined with the other services, such as project grants and great mentoring, McGill and Engine are really setting the stage for the success of future creators and entrepreneurs.”
Guy Stysis, Co-Founder and CEO, Rokulo