$160,000 in funding granted over the last 5 years!
The TechAccel Grants help you jump-start and accelerate your technologically-based ideas that have business or social impact potential. These grants come out of the Faculty of Engineering 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.
- Fall Session-September 13, 2020, 11:59PM (EST)
- Winter Session-January 17, 2021, 11:59PM (EST)
- Summer Session (TechAccel, TechAccel Summer Undergrads)-April 18, 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.
TechAccel Grants are offered three times a year (fall, winter and summer). During the summer session an additional TechAccel Grant exclusively for undergraduate students is available providing a combination of skills development and a stipend of $4,500 to work on their project full time during the summer.
TechAccel (Summer, Fall and Winter)
- Available for students (undergraduate, graduate, postdoc)
- Funding up to $5,000 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 grant application process below for more details
- 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 postdoc) 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 and the problem/opportunity must have some level of validation (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 request for funding greater than $2,000 will require a pitch presentation to the Innovation Committee.
- A team that has prior funding of over $25,000 is not eligible.
Application process is now open!
There must be some level of problem/opportunity validation, i.e. stakeholders identified and interviewed (preferably) 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. For applications greater than $2000, these are reviewed by members of the Innovation Committee, comprised of alumni of McGill’s Faculty of Engineering who are entrepreneurs, investors, business, financial, scientific, and technology professionals and are selected based on their expertise in assessing early-stage technologies and building early-stage ventures.
The TechAccel Application Webform will ask you to attach 2 supporting documents. Please download, complete and attach the following two documents.
- TechAccel Fall 2020 Startup Venture and Project Description
- TechAccel Fall 2020 Budget_Milestones_Stakeholder Analysis and Gantt Chart
Request for funding exceeding $2,000 will require a team presentation (10 minutes) to the Innovation Committee (10 minutes Q&A). In addition, teams requesting over $2000 for projects that are part of Design Capstone projects need to make a personal cash contribution of at least 25% of the amount above $2000 towards the project costs.
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 competitive review process by the McGill Engine team and the Innovation Committee when applicable. 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?
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 and the Innovation Committee 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)
- Advertising/Market Research: google ads, meetings with stakeholder at conferences (conference fees up to $500)
- Legal fees, patent fees, incorporation fees, up to $1000 total
- Contractors, outside developer fees up to 25% of requested funds
- 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 requested funds
Request for funding can range from $500-$5,000. In addition, teams requesting over $2000 for projects that are part of Design Capstone projects need to make a personal cash contribution of at least 25% of the requested amount above $2000 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.