ASCEND Hub Announces Call for Proposals for the ASCEND Innovation Awards

Wednesday, September 25 2019

The ASCEND Accelerator Hub, ASCEND, is currently seeking proposals to support the advancement of new biomedical innovations with significant potential to improve quality of life and save lives. The successful proposal will place emphasis on biomedical innovations that have a straightforward and rapid path to commercialization.

Join us for a drop-in session Oct. 9 from 1-2pm PT!
ASCEND representatives will answer any questions you might have on the ASCEND Innovation Awards and the application process.

Please use the below login information to join us using GoToMeeting

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (224) 501-3412
Access Code: 584-678-085 


Criteria for Consideration

   • The biomedical innovation proposed has the potential to become a product that improves quality of life or save lives.
   • The applicant is employed at one of the eleven ASCEND partner institutions (refer to for a list of our partner institutions).
   • The biomedical innovation has been disclosed to the Technology Transfer Office at the applicant’s institution.
   • The applicant, working with their Technology Transfer Office, has developed an intellectual property and technology protection strategy.
   • No companies have been created around proposed innovation.

Proposals will be reviewed by the ASCEND External Advisory Committee (EAC)and ranked based on the following criteria:

   A) Scientific Rigor
   B) Feasibility
   C) Impact
   D) Commercial potential
   E) Clearly articulated plan
   F) Overall Impact

Projects selected for funding will be required to provide milestones and progress metrics to ensure the project's steady progress. A Progress Report meeting will be held approximately six-months after the project's start date where awardees will report their findings and challenges and receive continued input and advice from the ASCEND Advisory Committee.

Proposal Considerations

   • Award amounts should not exceed $50,000 total costs (indirect and direct costs).
   • Matching funds up to 100% are allowed ($100,000 in total cost). Matching funds cannot come directly from a Federal Grant or Contract (NIH, NSF, DoD, etc).
   • The source of matching funds must be noted in the budget justification and a letter of support provided from the funding source. Matching funds from the participating institutions are encouraged but not required as part of the submission.
   • Project period should not exceed 12-months.
   • Confidential information should not be included in the application.
   • Funds must be applied to specific tasks that advance the innovative technology towards a commercial application and cannot be used for equipment.

ASCEND Application Review Timeline

LOIs will be screened by the ASCEND Advisory Committee (AC). The AC is comprised of representatives from Virtici LLC, the University of New Mexico and the University of Montana. Full proposals will be reviewed and scored by the ASCEND External Advisory Committee (EAC). The EAC is comprised of highly-accomplished leaders from the device, pharmaceutical, technology, angel investor and venture capitalist sectors.

   • October 23, 2019: Letter Of Intent (LOI) must be submitted
   • November 7, 2019: Invitation to submit full application will go out to selected applicants.
   • December 7, 2019: Full applications due by 5:00 pacific. Must be submitted electronically to
   • ASCEND will host two drop-in sessions to answer any questions regarding the application process: October 9th and November 22nd.
   • December 8, 2019 – January 20th, 2010: The ASCEND AC will review and validate each proposal and budget submission for completeness. Complete proposals will be sent to the ASCEND EAC for a comprehensive review. The committee will score the applications and rank them accordingly.
   • January 21, 2020: Application review complete. Applicants selected to pitch in front of the ASCEND AE are announced.
   • End of January: Proposal pitch workshop will be held to help applicants prepare for the pitch presentation
   • Early February 2020: The ASCEND pitches will be held.
   • February 28th, 2020: Applicants notified of the funding decisions

Content and Form of Application Submission

Letter of Intent (LOI)

The LOI should include:
   • Investigator name, title and institution
   • Project title
   • Summary of proposal (not to exceed 1 page)
      o Description of innovation
      o Potential impact to improve quality of life or save lives
      o Current stage of development
      o Proposed work to be performed.
   • 12 month project timeline

Submit LOI to by 5PM Pacific Time October 23, 2019.

Full Application

The full application should include:

Cover Letter (1 page limit)
   1. Application title.
   2. Project summary.
   3. Impact.

Research Strategy (6 pages limit)

   1. Significance
      o Explain the importance of the problem or critical barrier to progress that the proposed project addresses.
      o Describe the strengths and weaknesses in the rigor of the prior research (both published and unpublished) that serves as the key support for the proposed project.
      o Explain how the proposed project will improve scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice in one or more broad fields.

   2. Innovation
      o Explain how the application challenges and seeks to shift current research or clinical practice paradigms.
      o Describe any novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation or interventions to be developed or used, and any advantage over existing methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions.
      o Explain any refinements, improvements, or new applications of theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions.

   3. Approach
      o Describe the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses to be used to accomplish the specific aims of the project. Describe plans to address weaknesses in the rigor of prior research that serves as the key support for the proposed project. Describe the experimental design and methods proposed and how they will achieve robust             and unbiased results.
      o Discuss potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success anticipated to achieve the aims.
      o If the project is in the early stages of development, describe any strategy to establish feasibility, and address the management of any high-risk aspects of the proposed work.

Budget/Budget Justification (2 pages limit)

   1. Name of organization where experiments will occur.
   2. Budget period.
   3. Total funds needed.
   4. Estimated costs and justifications of cost.
      o Include quotes when appropriate.
   5. Matching funds (optional) and source

Key Personnel Biosketches

   1. Use NIH biosketch template.

Letters of Support (no page limit)

   1. Provide letters of support (as needed).

References (No page limit)
   1. When citing articles that fall under the Public Access Policy, were authored or co-authored by the applicant, and arose from NIH support, provide the NIH Manuscript Submission reference number (e.g., NIHMS97531) or the PubMed Central (PMC) reference number (e.g., PMCID234567) for each article.
   2. Citations not covered by the Public Access Policy, but are publicly available in a free, online format may include URLs or PubMed ID (PMID) numbers along with the full reference. The references should be limited to relevant and current literature.

Consolidate application into a single PDF file adhering to the following guidelines:

   • Single spaced
   • 1/2" margins
   • 11 point Arial font

Submit applications to by 5PM Pacific Time December 7, 2019.


The ASCEND Hub is made up of 11 research universities in the Western IDeA states: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wyoming. Virtici, LLC was award the $3.5 million grant to create and operate the Hub with academic co-leads, the University of New Mexico and the University of Montana. This award was granted by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number UT2GM130166.


Read 2820 times Last modified on Monday, 07 October 2019 21:09