Funding - Innovation Accelerator Pilot Program

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SPARK - Therapeutics

Request For Proposals

In keeping with its core mission, Spectrum offers grants for accelerating clinical and translational research in biomedical and health-related areas. The Stanford CTSA/Spectrum Pilot Grant Program has two major goals:

  • to stimulate innovative clinical and translational research and
  • to encourage collaborative, transdisciplinary work.


The primary expectation is that these early-stage translational projects will lead to additional research, external support, information dissemination and most important, will develop into longer-term, comprehensive projects. We encourage transdisciplinary collaborations, but this is not a requirement for funding.

Spark Overview

SPARK provides education and mentorship to translate academic discoveries into drugs or diagnostics that address real clinical needs. Spectrum Pilot Grants for SPARK support the development of novel therapeutics (e.g., small molecules, peptides, biologics, nucleic acid therapies, vaccines, gene therapies, stem cells, etc.) and diagnostics for unmet medical needs.

Selected projects receive funding, mentorship, and access to expert advisors from all stages of drug and diagnostic development. Proposals will be considered for any clinical indication and evaluated on the following criteria:

  • the scope and/or severity of unmet medical need
  • novelty of approach
  • feasibility of the path to clinic


Projects should address an unmet need in any clinical area, and we give special consideration to projects for global health, pediatrics, rare orphan diseases and other therapeutic areas that have been traditionally neglected by the for-profit sector.

Amount and Period of Funding

Typical grants range between $15,000 and $50,000 per year, depending on the specific program and the individual proposal. As a condition of funding, at least one member of each project team receiving a SPARK Pilot Grant must actively participate in weekly seminars (held Wednesday evenings from 5:30-7:30 pm) and present quarterly project updates. Funds must be applied to tasks (specifically budgeted by the investigator) that advance the technology toward the clinic and must be in compliance with Spectrum’s funding guidelines.

Awards funded through Spectrum will be granted for one year and must be completed in that timeframe. All unexpended funds will be forfeited if not spent within the 12-month award period.


  • Open to Stanford faculty with PI eligibility (with UTL, MCL, NTLR faculty appointments.)
    Clinical Educator (CE) faculty, clinical instructors, instructors, graduate students and post-doctoral scholars (clinical and non-clinical) are required to include a PI-eligible faculty member as co-PI on the application.

Proposal Deadline

  • The Spectrum Innovation Accelerator Pilot Program is postponed. We will post updated information and send announcements when dates are established.

Application Instructions

Proposal Submission

  • Proposal Submission:
    • Applicants must choose a primary program area (i.e., SPADA, SPARK, Biodesign - Medtech, and Population Health Sciences) for the project and may apply to another area if the project meets criteria for both programs.
    • Please communicate with program staff if it is unclear which program area is the best fit.
    • Projects will be awarded only one Spectrum Pilot Grant per annual grant cycle.


  • Page specifications
    • 8.5 x 11” page size
    • At least 0.75” margins on all sides
    • At least 10-point font size
  • Save your documents as PDFs to upload to Qualtrics (online submission)

Applications Must Include The Following Information:

  • A cover sheet that includes:
    • Title of proposal
    • PI name title, email and department
    • Mentor name (if applicable)
    • Co-investigator names, departments and emails
    • Office of Technology Licensing (OTL) disclosure (yes/no) and docket number, if relevant.
    • Amount of funding requested
  • Body of proposal (2-page limit, at least 10-point font):
    • Description of proposed product
    • Underlying technology
    • Clinical indication and brief scope of market
    • Current standard of care and unmet need
    • Translational objectives that will be achieved with the funding
    • Development plan (including timeline and plans for funding proposal)
    • Preliminary assessment of regulatory pathway, freedom to operate, IP landscape
    • Intellectual property status
    • Preliminary data (if any)
  • Budget (not part of page limit)
    • Allowable expenditures include: investigator’s salary, research personnel salaries, travel (if project-related) and project supplies.
    • Unallowable expenditures include: capital equipment costing more than $5,000, intellectual property services, and food.
    • Do not include indirect cost expenses.
  • Bios of all relevant staff involved in the project. (One paragraph maximum each person; not part of page limit.)
  • Note:
    • Figures and tables must be included within the body of the proposal.
    • References may be included and are not part of the page limit.
    • Do not include appendices to the proposal.
    • Applications that do not comply with the requirements will not be considered for review.

Award Process

Proposals will be evaluated by a committee of independent faculty and external reviewers, and awards will be based on individual selection criteria and scoring systems. In general, reviewers will select applications for consideration as finalists that have made convincing arguments that the investigator(s) is proposing a bold idea or approach that can have a major translational impact in translational research.

  • Finalists may be invited for oral presentations.
  • Awardees will be notified.