C2SMART Student Entrepreneurial Grant Competition
At its roots, engineering is about the invention, design, and development of new products that improve society. To foster this activity among our students, C2SMART is launching an entrepreneurship program in which grants to improve our transportation systems and mobility for all by way of entrepreneurial activity. Up to $5,000 in grants will be available to student teams who wish to begin a new entrepreneurial activity in collaboration with the Center.
Students or student teams can propose an idea that they would like to be supported by a seed grant. Awarded teams will then spend the rest of the school year developing a prototype, investigating the market, and preparing the business plan for the topic with the aid of a faculty mentor. At the end of the spring semester, students will report out on their progress and their future plans for advancing and sustaining the business to an audience that includes C2SMART and other University faculty and staff, identified industry stakeholders, and/or potential investors and clients.
Type of Innovation
Any idea that involves a new solution to an existing transportation or mobility problem is eligible. It may be bringing something new to a market, based on a published methodology that has not yet been commercialized, or an existing solution in a different market but has not yet been applied to a target market. The activity is to take that solution and bring it to a market.
Given that transportation is a public good that also encourages private enterprises, we seek applications for innovations that can address at least one of these measures:
- Viability/Profitability: innovations need to demonstrate profitability for either a new company or for providing a service to an existing interested company or client
- Public good: innovations need to demonstrate the public good that they would achieve for an existing public agency sponsor; for students interested in a startup company pursuing public good, they should demonstrate how such a company would also be able to achieve and maintain a sustainable business
- Connection to Center themes: proposed enterprises should be related to C2SMART and USDOT research in transportation, infrastructure, data science, and/or resiliency
To support student teams, workshops will be conducted with winners on topics such as preparing business plans, innovating for public good, patents and intellectual property, and more.
- By November 9 2020: students/student teams should submit complete applications for the seed grant. The applications will be reviewed by a panel of the C2SMART team, faculty, investors and other partners.
- Early December: Winning teams selected for seed funding and assigned a mentor to work with and develop a full business plan
- With the awarded grant, announced teams will have an opportunity to expand their teams by reaching out to their schools to address gaps noted in the application review (e.g. a team might have strong engineering skills but might be missing someone who can provide financial planning)
- Students may also petition to create a new VIP team (in addition to the overall C2SMART “Entrepreneurship Team” that will be created and continuously maintained to provide access to VIP students)
- Spring Semester: Startup Launch
- Student teams will spend the spring semester using the seed funding to develop a prototype, fully investigating the market, and preparing the business plan for the future sustainability of the business, with the aid of a faculty mentor
- Teams will create a web page to display their progress and eventually showcase their product
- End of April: presentations & celebratory reception
- Students will present their progress and future plans to faculty, industry partners, and potential investors to seek funding
How to Apply
Interested applicants should complete the linked application with information on the proposed idea, innovation, basic market research, alternative solutions/competitors, and team plan