The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Manning/IALS Innovation Awards



2021 Manning/IALS Innovation Awards

 Open to ALL UMass Amherst Associated Startup Ventures


Call for Applications

UMass Amherst invites application submissions for the 2021 Manning/IALS Innovation Awards. These awards are designed to help advance UMass Amherst translational and applied R&D through the development of startup companies or the out-licensing of UMass IP.

Scope and Eligibility:  

Eligibility: The PI must be a UMass Amherst faculty member. Applicant team members may include co-founders/leadership teams of a UMass startup venture.  Attendance at a 2021 Manning/IALS Information Session is a prerequisite to submit a Letter of Intent.

Funding: Up to $100,000 of funding based on milestones with no indirect costs. Manning/IALS funding must be expended within 18 months.

Letters of Intent:

Thank you for interest in the Manning/IALS Innovation Awards.  The deadline for the Letters of Intent has passed (June 1, 2021) and we are no longer accepting Letters of Intent. Only PIs who have submitted a LOI and have been invited to submit a full proposal may apply.

Full Applications are due Thursday, July 15, 2021:

Invited Applications must be submitted by Thursday, July 15, 2021. Submissions will be reviewed for the potential to advance a translational project from basic research toward application to real-world problems. This is further defined as:

  • Identification of and commitment to achieving translational milestones
  • A realistic plan to advance the research/technology towards establishment/development of a spinout/startup that can attract follow-on funding/resourcing from investors/agencies and/or significant sales

Each application contains the following (7 pages MAX, not counting budget/and appendixes):

  • Executive summary: Project title, team members, and abstract. For startup companies this will also include the key elements of a commercialization plan by briefly describing product candidates, the unmet need met, a differentiation plan, an IP plan, progress towards assembling a startup/spinout team, and resource needs to support development into a self-sufficient enterprise (1-page max).
  • Statement of Work: High-level objectives; Project Plan including timeline, interim milestones/deliverables and final milestones/deliverables (up to 3 pages)
  • Progress to Date/Preliminary Data: (up to 2 pages inclusive of any figures)
  • Intellectual Property Status/Strategy: (up to 1 page)
  • Budget: Must contain the major budget categories, named personnel or timeline for hiring if these are TBD, and a brief justification for each category (up to 1 page)
  • Appendix A - Other Support: List other funding by source, grant number, amount start/stop dates, and a summary sentence on specific aims (up to 2 pages, up to date NIH or NSF current and pending forms are acceptable)
  • Appendix B - Biosketches: Provide bios for Faculty PI, Research Team Members, Advisors, and/or other/potential startup co-founds (up to 2 pages for each team member, up to date NIH or NSF current and pending forms are acceptable)
  • Appendix C - Up to 3 letters of support: (1 page each)
  • Appendix D - Bibliography and Patent Information: (up to 2 pages)
  • Appendix E - Intellectual Property: List all relevant invention disclosures, provisional patents, patents pending, patents grants and the technology licensing officer at the UMass Amherst TTO with whom you work

Confidentiality: In anticipation of external reviewers, do not include any confidential information in the proposal. If you believe inclusion of confidential information is critical to your application, email to discuss.

Budget Guidelines: Up to $100,000 direct costs may be requested. There is no indirect cost associated with the award. Allowable expenses include but are not limited to:

  • Research staff scientist, postdoctoral fellow, or graduate student support
  • Laboratory supplies and consumable materials
  • UMA Core facilities usage and Collaboratory space rental
  • Grant writer/consultant support (e.g., SBIR/STTRs)
  • Graphic design, web development, and marketing communications
  • Other expenses will be considered on as case by case basis

Funding for faculty salary and capital equipment are not allowable expenses.

Formatting: Proposals must be submitted as a single File formatted to print on letter (8 ½” X 11”) paper with >0.5” margins in Calibri or Arial 11 or 12 point font, single spaces, with a blank line between each paragraph and left alignment.

Proposals should be submitted electronically as either MS Word or PDF files using a file naming convention of PI LastName_FirstName_YYYY_MM (i.e. Smith_Mary_2019_05).

Selection Criteria: Applications will be reviewed for the potential to advance a research idea/project or startup/pre-startup venture from basic research toward application to real-world problems on six major criteria:

  • Soundness & Technical Merit
  • Project Milestones & Timeline
  • Translational & Commercial Potential
  • IP Strategy
  • Commercialization Plan
  • PI & Research Team Strength & Commitment

Post-Award Requirements

  • Progress Reports: Manning / IALS awardees will be expected to submit progress reports highlighting successes, issues, and progress towards interim milestones. These reports will be in the form of short (10 min) presentations to members of the internal/external grant review board.
  • Training: Teams receiving funding for their startup or pre-startup ventures are strongly encouraged to engage in training and mentoring focused on building knowledge of and capacity for the business aspects of research-driven new ventures.

Submit Full Applications here. [ialsmanning-application-submission-form-2021]

Important Dates:

June 1 – Letter of Intent due.

June 15 – Invitations for Full Proposals sent out.

June 22, June 23Commercialization Plan in 90-Minutes.  While attendance at one of these sessions is not required to submit your full proposal, we highly encourage PIs to attend, as these sessions provide significant information on key elements of the Executive Summary of your proposal.

June 24Venture Score Card Office Hours with an MBA Fellow.  Consult with an MBA Fellow on your project.  More information provided in the Information Sessions & Office Hours section.

June 25, July 2, July 9Manning/IALS Office Hours with Karen and Hannah.  If you have specific questions related to your proposal, please sign up for an office hour slot.

July 15 - Completed electronic applications due, details and templates will be made available on the Manning/IALS Innovation Awards website.

September - Award decisions will be made, with funding starting as early as needed following awards decisions.

Information Sessions & Office Hours:

Commercialization Plan in 90 Minutes.  To provide key information and respond to questions related to the Executive Summary, we will be hosting two Zoom sessions titled “Commercialization Plan in 90 Minutes.”  While attendance is not required, we highly encourage PIs to attend.  Affiliated graduate students, business mentors, and/or startup co-founders are welcome to attend with the PI.  Registration is required.  Registration information is below.

Registration for Commercialization Plan in 90 Minutes Sessions:

Manning-IALS Office Hours.  Fridays, 2-4pm.  If you have any specific questions related to your full proposal, please sign up for an office hour slot with Hannah Choi and Karen Utgoff here.  We highly encourage you to attend a Commercialization Plan in 90 Minutes session BEFORE signing up for Office Hours.

Venture Score Card Office Hours with an MBA Fellow.  Thursday 6/24, 1-4pm.  After attending a Commercialization Plan in 90 Minutes session, you have the option to sign up for a time slot to fill out a Venture Score Card with one of our summer MBA fellows to help assess your project’s gaps and strengths towards commercialization.  This is optional, but is useful in the process of organizing the elements related to your Executive Summary, particularly if you are an early-stage project, or if you’ve never engaged with IALS Venture Development before.

About the Awards:

Significant funding for this opportunity comes from a gift to the College of Natural Sciences (CNS) by the Manning Family Foundation and from the Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS) Seed Fund Program. Additional contributions come from the College of Natural Sciences, the Berthiaume Center, the Isenberg School of Management, and the Office of Development and Alumni Relations. Recipients of Manning funds will be designated Manning/IALS Innovation Fellows.

Administration of the Manning/IALS Innovation Awards is managed through IALS with oversight from the IALS Executive Committee and the Office of the Dean, CNS, for the Manning Family Foundation gift.  Contact us at

2020 Manning Award winners:

Barbara Osborne, veterinary & animal sciences, for “developing novel therapeutics to treat inflammatory bowel disease by bacterial exopolysaccharides.”
David Julian McClements, food science, for “Nutriply – a start-up developing probiotics in gummy form, making them easier to use.”
Sloan Siegrist, microbiology, for “developing a diagnostic for detecting blood-borne pathogenic bacteria, sepsis.”

2020 IALS Award winners:

Neil Forbes, chemical engineering, to “demonstrate the efficacy of a novel bacterial therapeutic, EBT-302, for treatment of liver cancer” by start-up Ernest Pharmaceuticals.
Amir Arbabi, electrical and computer engineering, to develop “metasurface-enabled miniature LIDAR systems” for robotics, automatic guided vehicles and integration into smartphones.
James Allan, computer science, to develop software tools aimed at “explaining contradictory claims in the biomedical/healthcare domain.”

Read the full press release on our News page.