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All potential new business concepts and technologies require funding to develop into a flourishing business.  This funding can support validation of the market for the proposed product and/or validation of the underlying technology.  Validation moves new opportunities closer to successful commercialization.  At EPIC we understand the need for funding at various stages of business development and have developed a process to support our clients in the search for funding regardless of the stage of their project.  We strongly believe in product market fit, that is uncovering the “need” of a specific customer and making sure that the new product specifically fulfills that need to provide clear value to the customer.  This is crucial, since most business ventures struggle because they initially “make the wrong product” (a product that the customer does not require). 

Our first educational and funding opportunities start with funds to support conducting “customer discovery” interviews in conjunction with our team of mentors.  These interviews help the entrepreneur to define the customer and to understand their needs/pains and requirements.  The entrepreneur can then determine the degree to which the proposed product satisfies the customer needs, essentially answering the question: “is there product market fit”?.  After successfully establishing a strong product market fit the EPIC process supports access to additional funding sources to further progress the project towards commercialization through various steps that include prototype development/testing, team building and initial testing, among others. 


OTP implemented a new “CEO-in-Residence” program with the goal to review the portfolio of UCR technology, selecting those with the greatest commercial potential and accelerate their path to market.

Mr. Brynley Lee, the initial CEO-in-Residence, identified Professor Masaru Rao’s research as the leading candidate for 2 reasons: 1) the potential of its innovative SoloPore™ cellular engineering technology to transform the growing field of cell therapy, 2) the strong engagement of the entrepreneurial scientific founder from UCR’s Biomedical Microdevices Laboratory. Following customer research with potential users of the technology and discussions with venture capital providers, including UCR’s Highlander Venture Fund, Brynley joined Basilard BioTech as its founding CEO, incorporated the company, and negotiated a license from UCR to secure Dr. Rao’s technology for Basilard’s development.

Funding Opportunities

We provide funding opportunities to validate your technology and bring it to commercialization.


    If you have an innovative idea or techology and want to increase the chances of successful commercialization the NSF I-Corps Workshop is for you.   

    • Dedicated Mentorship: Receive 1:1 mentoring from experienced entrepreneurs who will guide you through the Lean Launchpad methodology to see if your idea has market potential.
    • Transferable Business skills: Sharpen presentation skills, learn basic business concepts and how to effectively present your idea or technology to non-technical audiences.
    • Expanded Network: Connect with fellow innovators, industry experts, and potential customers, partners, investors, and stakeholders to validate your idea or technology through interviews.
    • Access to Funding: Upon completion, qualify for $50,000 in additional funding from the NSF and secure special preference for Proof of Concept grant funding of up to $35,000 through the Office of Technology Partnerships.

    Application for the NSF I-Corps Winter 2023 cohort is now open!


    If you have  completed the UCR NSF I-Corps workshops or are a recipient of NSF grants you are eligible for the I-Corps National Program.   

    • Funded by the National Science Foundation I-Corps.  

    • NSF provides $50,000.  

    • 7 week intensive workshop offered in National I-Corps sites across the country. 


    If you have an invention with commercial or business potential this grant is available to you.  

    • Funded by the UCR Research and Economic Development Office.   

    • We provide faculty with grants of up to $50,000. 

    • Funds can be used for prototyping or to conduct translational experiments to bring a technology closer to commercialization.  

    • Five to eight awards are distributed annually through a competitive process. 

    • For more information on the Proof of Concept funding, contact Brian Suh  

    • Applications that have been validated through the I-Corps program secure special preference for Proof of Concept grant funding.


    Our SBIR/STTR Resource Center is here to help you develop and submit winning proposals.  

    • Programs are structured into 2 funded phases, with awards typically between $150,000 - $1,000,000.  

    • UCR’s SBIR/STTR Resource Center provides one on one mentorship and a robust training program that provides insights on preparing competitive proposals.  

    • For more information about preparing an SBIR or STTR proposal, contact Misty Madero  


    If you have a UCR affiliated company you can apply for venture capital investment through the Highlander Venture Fund.   

    •  Investments between $250,000-$500,000. 

    • For more information about the Highlander Venture Fund, contact Scott Brovsky

Success Story

Highlander Venture Fund Makes Its First Investment

The University of California, Riverside’s Highlander Venture Fund (HVF) invested $250,000 investment in UCR alum-founded company, NanoCellect Biomedical Inc., a developer of microfluidic cell-sorting technologies for cell-based assays.


Martin Kleckner
Director, EPIC SBDC
Entrepreneurship & Innovation