Accelerator Awards Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQs

The Accelerator Awards are partially funded through the Ohio Third Frontier Technology Validation and Startup Fund (TVSF) Phase 1 program. This is a grant that is awarded to the university as a sponsored research award. As a requirement of the award matching cost-share funds must be provided by the university. This pool of sponsored and cost-share funds is used for the Accelerator Awards program, which is managed by the Keenan Center for Entrepreneurship in the Office of Innovation and Economic Development.

The aim of the Ohio Third Frontier Technology Validation and Start-up Fund is to create greater economic growth in Ohio through the creation of startup companies that commercialize technologies developed by Ohio institutions of higher education. TVSF can be divided into two separate mechanisms: Technology Validation Phase 1 (Accelerator Awards or similar programs at Ohio Institutions) and the Start-Up Fund Phase 2. The purpose of the phase I and the Accelerator Awards is to generate the proof needed to advance technologies to the point that they are either  ready to be licensed by an Ohio-based startup company upon completion of the project or determined to be  unfeasible for commercialization. Phase 2 funding supports Ohio-based startup companies that intend to license technology developed at Ohio State during the critical early life of the company and accelerate the time to market by obtaining either a first customer or investment by the conclusion of the grant term. The lead applicant for an Accelerator Award is an Ohio State faculty member with principal investigator status, whereas the lead applicant for TVSF Phase 2 funding is the startup company.

If a technology received an Accelerator Award, the project must be complete with affirmative results before applying for TVSF Phase 2 funding. The Phase 2 application will require submission of a summary of the Accelerator Award project, including metrics that indicate successful completion and the validation/proof process employed.

We typically receive between 20 and 30 pre-proposals per cycle. Technologies are selected for an award recommendation based on merit. There is not a set limit per cycle.  An estimated 8-12 applicants may be invited to make a pitch presentation to the Selection Committee, with up to 9 projects recommended for funding.

Currently, there are two funding cycles (spring and fall) of each year.

The Accelerator Awards selection committee consists of a representative of the Keenan Center for Entrepreneurship, and external partners with a range of commercialization, investment and entrepreneurial expertise. The selection committee reviews proposals and the pitch presentations and makes recommendations for funding. Funding decisions are made by the Ohio Third Frontier based upon recommendations of the selection committee.


Ohio State faculty with Principal Investigator (PI) status must be listed as an inventor of the technology and will serve as PI for the project. Post-docs and staff who are co-inventors of the technology are eligible to apply as co-PI. Students are not eligible to  apply as PI or co-PI. 

Before submitting a pre-proposal for the Accelerator Awards, the technology should be disclosed via invention disclosure form through the Innovate portal ahead of the pre-proposal deadline. We recommend reaching out to your assigned licensing manager and letting them know you are interested in applying for an Accelerator Award. This will help ensure there is adequate time to validate the technology can meet all eligibility requirements during the application stage and secure  intellectual property protection.

Your Licensing Manager can help initially assess commercialization potential of your technology. Technologies at the right stage for an Accelerator Award must already be developed beyond proof of concept and basic research and should feasibly be ready to license after the Accelerator Award is completed. Accelerator Award funds can be used to perform validation activities with particular focus on validation and de-risking independently from the originating lab. This can be achieved by an using independent service provider or vendor to perform the work. Eligible activities include prototyping, market and customer demand assessment, demonstration and assessment of critical failure points, scale up and commercialization.

Given the technology transfer goals of the Accelerator Awards, it would be unlikely for a technology to receive an additional award. Applicants are encouraged to apply with new proposals for a different application of the same technology, or for new technologies once the initial project is completed. If you wish to submit an additional Accelerator Award application, previous outcomes and compliance with the program’s requirements will be considered. 

Proposal submission will be limited to no more than three times. A proposal submitted for the second or third time is considered a revised proposal and the appropriate box must be checked on the application form.

This does not align with the goal of the Ohio Third Frontier, which is to create greater economic impact in Ohio based on startup companies that commercialize technologies developed at Ohio research institutions. Startup Opportunity is one of the criteria considered during the review process.

Existing companies are beyond the scope of the Accelerator Awards and are not eligible to apply. Existing startup companies that intend to license intellectual property developed at Ohio State are eligible to apply for TVSF Phase 2 funding.

Based on the goals of the Ohio Third Frontier and the commercialization focus of the Accelerator Awards, there is preference for projects that secure purchased services from Ohio-based third-party vendors.

During the application stage proposed projects will be assessed and undergo a conflict-of-interest review.

Intellectual Property and Licensing

Yes, it does. Copyrighted materials, including software, are eligible if OSIF has the right to commercialize the copyrighted materials via an exclusive license agreement. Software/information technology is one of the technology areas targeted by the Ohio Third Frontier.

If more than one institution is involved or named on the IP for your technology, you must declare in your pre- proposal and an inter-institutional agreement (IIA) must be in place to be eligible for an award. Your Licensing Manager can help clarify who has rights or claims against your IP and what impact that may have on commercialization. IP that is predominantly owned by an institution outside of Ohio is not a good fit for the Accelerator Awards.

No, if the technology is not available for licensing in the applicable field of use it is not eligible for the Accelerator Awards.

No, to be consistent with the goal of the Ohio Third Frontier to stimulate economic growth in Ohio, technologies must be licensed to an Ohio-based company. If a technology is licensed to a company outside of Ohio within five years of the award notice, the grant must be repaid to the Ohio Third Frontier.

Projects selected for an Accelerator Award use the funds as part of a sponsored research agreement. No equity is taken by OSIF for consideration of the Accelerator Awards funding provided. Any equity negotiated as part of the licensing deal is independent of Accelerator Awards funding status.


No, indirect costs should not be included in the budget. 

No, travel is not an eligible expense. 

No, this is not an eligible expense. 

In keeping with the commercialization goals of the Accelerator Awards, projects should prioritize outsourcing work to independent third-party vendors. For this reason, internal expenditures on personnel support and materials and supplies to perform work within the lab is limited to 25% of the total awarded budget. Tuition is not an eligible expense.

In keeping with the technology transfer goals of the Accelerator Awards, external validation and de-risking are critical for commercialization development of any technology. Commercialization focused milestones can be guided by the industry expert during the application phase which can help to identify key priorities and work completed independently of the lead PI ‘s lab and personnel. Internal core facilities that are available as a paid service fee to external customers may be requested. If work is proposed to be conducted within the university, the proposal narrative should have compelling justification for not sourcing the work to an independent service vendor. 

Project Plan and Timeline

Any changes to the milestones must be requested prior to completion date of that milestone. The impact on the project scope, timeline, and justification for the changes must also be included. The request will be reviewed by the Accelerator Awards program and may require additional approval from the selection committee and the Ohio Third Frontier. Re-allocation of funds from the original itemized budget must also be requested in advance of any changes taking place.

Industry experts should be external to the University and have a strong industry-based background in the relevant technology field. When submitting the pre-proposal PI’s are strongly encouraged to identify potential individuals they may know through their network. The Keenan Center for Entrepreneurship can also facilitate identification of potential industry experts.

The industry expert serves to provide critical industry insight for technologies and to help define and guide appropriate and commercially relevant milestones for projects.

No, this is not a commercially viable milestone. Due to the short project timeline, a pending IRB submission or IRB approval (within 1 year) must be in place by the full application deadline. Funds may not be awarded if necessary IRB approvals are not obtained in a timely manner and delay the project start date beyond 3- months of the award notice.

No, while we support publication of the resulting work, this is not a primary objective in line with the commercialization and technology transfer goals of the Accelerator Awards.

Pre-award expenditures are not permitted. The funds are disbursed in tranches based upon the project milestones. The first tranche is released at the start of the project period.


Project start dates are outlined in the RFA and it is expected that the PI is aware of the start date defined by the program and will be prepared to start the project as soon as the funds are released. Awards may be withdrawn for any project that does not start within 3 months.

Limited no-cost extensions in 6-month intervals may be approved by the Ohio Third Frontier for certain extenuating circumstances but will not be permitted to exceed more than 12 months beyond the project period.

There are defined reporting obligations that must be adhered to during the Accelerator Award.

These include: (i) project kickoff meeting, (ii) quarterly updates with the Accelerator Awards program and commercialization team, (iii) written quarterly progress reports (to be discussed in the meetings and for State of Ohio mandated reporting), (iv) mid-year project update, (v) final report within 30 days at the end of the project (vi) final pitch presentation. Details of reporting formats and deadlines will be provided to awarded projects.

For More Information or Additional Questions 

For more information or additional questions, please contact the Keenan Center at for additional questions.