RAINMaker Student Entrepreneur Seed Grants

The Office of the Vice President for Research & Innovation is pleased to announce the call for applications for the Paul Anthony Troiano RAINmaker Seed Grants. These $5,000 awards are designed to support up to five UO student-led and owned entrepreneurial start-up businesses as they seek to refine and launch their concepts as new companies. The seed funds are awarded to help students launch their ideas into real companies and to connect them into the RAIN @ UO and RAIN Eugene networks of mentoring and entrepreneurial support. The RAINmaker Seed Grants are open to any currently enrolled students who are juniors or above, including graduate students, regardless of discipline. Students who have graduated from UO in the term immediately prior to the application deadline may also apply.

Eligible activities for using the funds are broad so long as the money is used to advance a new UO student-led and owned entrepreneurial startup. Allowable expenses could include:

  • Paying for the creation of prototype designs
  • Supporting participation in the RAIN Eugene Accelerator and related local entrepreneurship activities, including supporting the individual/team for a period of time
  • Paying for needed infrastructure (e.g., websites, renting co-working space)
  • Conducting other activities needed to bring the idea closer to implementation

The selection committee looks forward to reviewing all kinds of creative ideas that meet the spirit of this new award. Students are responsible for defining the entrepreneurial opportunity they seek to actively pursue and develop a plan for how they will use the award to further their goals. Concepts will be evaluated by the selection committee on factors ranging from the soundness of the concept to its scalability and ability to launch to the quality of the founding team. The committee is looking for companies that can connect with RAIN activities in Eugene, so proposed companies should be able to scale beyond a sole proprietorship or a simple LLC model. Nonprofits are welcome to apply as long as they meet the criteria of scalability. Applicants will also be judged on their willingness to engage with local mentors, as well as participate in local activities that advance the growth and impact of new companies.

If you have questions about eligibility or are seeking advice on where to start, contact Andrew Nelson, Executive Director of UO Rain, at ajnelson@uoregon.edu or (541) 346-1569.

Award Information

The Paul Anthony Troiano RAINmaker Fund provides seed grant funding for student-led and owned entrepreneurial start-up businesses supported by the Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network (RAIN), Eugene node, at the University of Oregon. All current UO students, including undergraduates who are juniors and above (including graduate students), in all disciplines may apply for seed grants from the Fund. Students who have graduated from UO in the term immediately prior to the application deadline may also apply. Students in the School of Music and Dance are especially encouraged to apply.

Each RAINmaker Seed Grant carries an award of $5,000. Up to five awards will be made. Funds must be spent within calendar year 2016. The $5,000 may, in full or in part, be used toward support of the applicant in specific activities tied to the innovative concept or to support themselves to do so. Some of the types of activities eligible for the award usage are listed above. Release of funds is not immediate and processing can take up to one month. Please note that income taxes apply.

In Fall of 2016, each award recipient will be expected to participate with other RAINmaker award recipients in a RAIN @ UO panel discussion on student entrepreneurship at the University. On or before December 15, 2016, each awardee also will be required to submit a one-page report to the Office of the Vice President for Research & Innovation detailing their experience in advancing their startup concept, addressing how this experience affected their interest in entrepreneurship, and describing how this program influenced their educational experience at UO.

Eligibility and Deadlines

UO undergraduates who are juniors and above, and all UO graduate students, in all disciplines may apply for seed grants from the Fund for their UO student-led and -owned entrepreneurial start-up business. Students who have graduated from UO in the term immediately prior to the application deadline may also apply. Students in the School of Music and Dance are especially encouraged to apply. 

If the startup business is not yet formally incorporated, the founders may still apply for seed funding provided incorporation of their businesses is included as one of the activities for the use of seed funding.

Up to five (5) seed grants will be awarded, solely at the discretion of the selection committee reviewing the applications. If no applications meet the criteria set by the selection committee for funding, no grants will be awarded in that round. The next round of applications will take place in Spring 2016. Application materials must be submitted by 5 p.m. local Eugene time on Friday, May 13, 2016. As part of the evaluation process, the selection committee will hold in-person interviews with invited applicants after reviewing the first round of applications. Those invited to an interview will need to set aside Tuesday, May 24, 2016, from 1 p.m. to 4 pm for invited interviews with the selection committee. The selection committee’s decisions will be made on or prior to Friday, May 27, 2016.

Application and Submission Process

To be considered, the founders of a UO student-led and owned entrepreneurial start-up business should submit one set of application materials to ajnelson@uoregon.edu by 5 p.m. on the application dates given above.  

The application requires:

  1. In the body of the email: The name of the startup, the names of the founders, their academic programs and year and a who is the preferred contact for the startup with contact information;
  2. As attachments in pdf format:

a. A one-page résumé for each founder. Highlight any experience, coursework or external activities that underscore your interest in building your new venture.

b. A summary description, at the time of application, of the business, its target customers, its product or service offering, its value proposition to their customer, and what has been done or is being done to launch or realize the business. This may be done in the form of a presentation slide deck (pitch deck of no more than 12 slides) or business précis (no more than three pages, including graphics, using at least Times New Roman 11 pt. font)

c. A statement on the planned uses of the seed grant funding and how that spending advances the startup (i.e., what milestone will the spending advance or allow the business to hit).

For More Information or to Connect to Other Entrepreneurship Resources

Find out more about this and other ways to participate in on and off campus innovation and entrepreneurship activities by visiting http://innovate.uoregon.edu