InVent Fund Application

InVest In Ourselves
Rewriting the rules on discovery development

The Fund

The University of California, San Francisco is proud to announce the launch of our UCSF Innovation Ventures Philanthropy Fund or “InVent Fund”, a philanthropic trust to boost the University’s most promising healthcare discoveries through translational studies and closer to the marketplace. Traditionally, to guarantee their breakthroughs advance to commercialization, universities partner with industry, licensing discoveries to new or established companies whose goals are to develop those inventions into successful products. In return for industry investment, universities and inventors usually cede control over the relevant innovation at an early stage and with much higher risk. As a consequence, even in the case of discoveries that are ultimately transformed into blockbuster products, universities receive relatively modest financial returns for the ideas that originated in their laboratories. Creating the InVent Fund, UCSF seeks to rewrite the rules on how breakthrough discoveries are developed at our university. Instead of prematurely licensing the rights to our most promising but early findings to the industry, we have created the InVent Fund to provide financial support, as well as experienced product development mentoring and expertise to a small number of outstanding projects. By supporting and de-risking our most promising projects through translational development, we expect to capture greater value for UCSF and our inventors with the added benefit of building a sustainable program of funding for future innovations.

Project Selection

Applications will be reviewed primarily for potential patient impact. Projects that have successfully completed Catalyst Program funding will automatically be considered. Other projects that have submitted Invention Disclosures to the Office of Technology Management and Advancement and have the potential with additional funding to have a successful exit to a VC-backed start-up or be licensed within one to two years will also be considered. Short-listed proposals will be considered for funding by the InVent Funding Committee, comprised of biotech executives, industry experts, and UCSF leadership.

Project Management

In addition to funding, Innovation Ventures will provide project management resources and utilize expert industry consultants, contract research organizations, and entrepreneurs-in-residence to help advance the projects. Aided by the inventors, each Project Manager will lead the creation of a milestone-driven project plan, timeline, and budget.

Budget Administration
  • Applications are open to Principal Investigators (PIs) across campus, regardless of their departmental affiliation. We encourage collaborative projects between research groups on campus. Anticipated allocations for projects, depending upon the progress of those projects, could range to as high as >$1M. Note that the InVent funding is not a typical grant or award in that funds are not transferred en bloc but are instead tied to specific aims and milestones.
  • Funding will be released based on following the work plan, meeting milestones, and achieving results. If a project fails to meet a certain milestone, the remainder of funding may be withheld.
  • Funds may be used for both internal project development and for outside service providers…they may not be used to support faculty compensation.
  • If it becomes apparent that a technology will become licensed without further InVent funding or that a technology likely no longer has market potential, the remainder of funding may be withheld.
General Eligibility
  • The lead PI must be a UCSF faculty member holding a primary appointment at UCSF, in that their extramural grant applications must typically be submitted through the UCSF Office of Contract and Grant Administration.
  • Project teams may include non-faculty members (e.g., graduate students, postdocs, staff, nurses, etc.) who have signed the UC Patent Acknowledgement.
  • The underlying intellectual property should vest with UCSF (the Regents) only.
  • Technologies that have already been or are in active licensing negotiations are not eligible for UCSF InVent Fund support, as the Fund aims to support technologies that have not yet been licensed to a third party.
General Evaluation Criteria
  • Address an unmet medical need via a well-defined product or service.
  • Technical feasibility.
  • Commercial potential/market.
  • Competitive advantage.
  • Qualifications of the PI and team members.
  • Strength of the preliminary data / proof of concept and development plan.
  • Status of the intellectual property and/or opportunity to develop new intellectual property.
  • Ability to tranche budget with clearly defined timelines/milestones.


This table depicts several key differences between Catalyst Awards and the InVent Fund.


Catalyst Awards

InVent Fund

Funding Amount

Seed Funding up to $100,000

Up to $2M (Typical Range $100K - $500K)



Non-dilutive funding

Percentage of the pre-financed Founder’s equity - negotiated in good faith and will depend on elements such as total funds awarded, value-added, etc. UCSF inventors will continue to receive 35% of total licensing revenue, per UCOP policy. Please refer to for additional policy information.


Project Stage

Early phases of the translational pathway, proof of concept, etc.


Therapeutics: Discovery and concept, target validation, HTS, identification of tool compounds and /or hits, compound library screening, basic translational research, preclinical research, and early confirmation of therapeutics efficacy and safety in cells and preclinical models


Medical Devices: Early prototype development, preliminary in vitro, and potentially in vivo testing


Diagnostics: Biomarker discovery and early validation, understanding of regulatory pathways


Digital Health: Early proof of concept, pathway for commercialization, minimal viable product/wireframes

Biotools: use case development, demonstration of the platform or technology

More advanced along the translational pathway


Therapeutics: Lead generation and optimization, in vitro and in vivo data on safety and efficacy,  candidate selection, IND enabling studies (where applicable), in vivo PK ADME, candidate selection


Medical Devices: Refined and validated prototype, advanced in vivo testing in preclinical models, clinical validation plan


Diagnostics: Biomarker validation including clinical development, clear definition of regulatory and reimbursement plan


Digital Health: Validated algorithm/software framework, advanced UX/UI design, and roadmap


Biotools: Validation of the platform and clear application to use cases


Data Stage

Preliminary data, data validation

Preliminary data established and positive.


Submission Deadline

Annually in early autumn via RAP

Rolling basis


Intellectual Property

Not necessary, but encouraged

Should have IP / potential to create and/or further novel IP or in discussions with OTM, provisional or patent application filed, IP should generate a licensable technology within a 1-2 year timeframe



Not a prerequisite (exit can be follow-on funding, InVent funding)

The project should be ready for “exit” (license technology, spin out startup company with VC funding) in 1-2 years


Third-Party Obligations

Technology is at UCSF or in collaboration with an academic institution

A careful review of third-party obligations



12 months

Up to 3 years (typically 1-2 years)


Project guidance and mentorship

Catalyst Advisor network

EIR, Steering Committee, Catalyst and Other Advisor Networks, Project Management


Potential to Generate Returns to UCSF via licensing revenue

Important, but not a prerequisite

Strong consideration


UCSF thrives on bold ideas. Our faculty members have the freedom to pursue ambitious research beyond the scope of most commercial laboratories. UCSF scientists regularly collaborate with clinicians at UCSF Medical Center to access patient samples and data, design and run clinical trials, and translate revolutionary discoveries into patient care. At the same time, UCSF is distinguished among academic institutions by its entrepreneurial successes. Our community includes hundreds of biotechnology industry veterans and experts in investment and licensing, who have helped our researchers spin-off biomedical companies valued in the billions. With the UCSF InVent Fund, we now have an opportunity – if not a duty – to do more.

For follow-up questions directly related to the fund, please contact: 

Senior Associate Director Roopa Ramamoorthi, PhD, PMP,  [email protected]


Make a Gift


We need visionary donors to support the growth of the Innovation Ventures Philanthropy Fund (InVent Fund) and help UCSF realize its mission. For more information about the InVent Fund, please contact Brandon (Bo) O’Hare, Senior Director Development at 773-354-1471 or [email protected]