TechAccel Grants

TechAccel Grants

The TechAccel Grants help students jump-start and accelerate their technologically-based ideas that have business and 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.  They are available throughout the year and can go up to $10,000 per project.  Applications are reviewed every two to four weeks by members of the Innovation Committee.

* 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 given to students may be treated as income.

TechAccel Summer Grants for Undergraduates:

Receive a stipend of $4500 to work full-time on your start-up project for 16 weeks over the summer.  Deadline to apply is April 19, 2019 at 5pm. Same eligibility rules and process as TechAccel Grants, described below, except limited to lead applicants that are undergraduates students only, registered full-time in a McGill Faculty of Engineering program and in good academic standing.

Eligibility

  • Only teams of at least two people are eligible to apply;
  • The lead applicant must be a student (undergraduate or graduate or postdoctoral fellow) 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 that has been reviewed by the En manager (see How to Start?);
  • A team can receive no more than the maximum allowable amount per project;
  • 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 minimum cash contribution of 25% of the amount exceeding $2,000.

How to start?

Please complete the Business Idea Description form (Microsoft Office document icon Business Idea Description Form) and send it to Katya Marc, katya.marc [at] mcgill.ca (subject: Business%20Idea%20Description%20Form) , EngInE manager.  A meeting will be set-up to discuss the idea and the next steps, prior to submission of a project proposal for grant funding.   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.

Figure 1. The Four Steps of Customer Development [from Steve Blank’s The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products that Win”, 2013]

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

Grant Application Process

TechAccel grants are available throughout the calendar year. Applications may be submitted at any time by email to the EngInE Manager (katya.marc [at] mcgill.ca (subject: TechAccel%20Grant%20Proposal) ) after you have received the go-ahead from the EngInE manager. Applications are reviewed every two to four weeks 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.

Application documents to submit:

  1. Microsoft Office document icon Business Idea Description Form

  2. File Project Description and Funding Request

Request for funding exceeding $2,000 will require a team presentation (10 minutes) to the Innovation Committee (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.

Project Selection

All eligible project applications will be assessed on their merit and undergo a review process by the Innovation Committee where the proposals will be assessed based on the criteria listed below.

Project Evaluation Criteria

  1. Description of idea/solution and the problem is clear?
  2. The idea/solution is appropriate for the problem identified?
  3. Appropriate milestones have been identified in order to advance the idea towards a viable business/solution?
  4. Is the amount of funding appropriate for the team to complete the milestone(s)?
  5. Has the team identified customers/stakeholders for their idea?
  6. Has the team performed the proper amount and type of validation to ensure that there is interest in the idea?
  7. Has the team clearly identified the competitive landscape?
  8. Does the team have sufficient competitive advantage/differentiation from similar ideas?

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 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.

Award Size

Request for funding can range from $500-$10,000.  Requests exceeding $2,000 will require a minimum cash contribution of 25% of the amount exceeding $2,000.

Terms of Award

For awards of $2000 or less, the funds will be disbursed to the lead applicant upon award and upon receipt of the student’s electronic fund transfer (EFT) information.  For awards greater than $2,000, funds will be released based on the achievement of the milestones. If the project terminates early in the event of the lead applicant abandoning the project, then McGill will charge the student account to recover any remaining funds. If it is discovered that any falsified or misleading information has been submitted, then McGill will charge the student account to recover any remaining funds.

A mid-term progress report and final report will be due to the EngInE Manager 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 guidelines and commitment: https://mcgill.ca/engineering/files/engineering/mentoring_guidelines_and...

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 in outreach activities pertaining to technological innovation and entrepreneurship.