First Annual SPARK Awards

Awardees presented their research at the First Annual Brandeis Innovation Showcase on November 3, 2015 and the Second Annual Showcase on November 17, 2016 to much acclaim.

Projects Funded in 2015 and 2016

Media coverage about funded SPARK 2015 projects and SPARK 2016 projects

SPARK Program

Welcome! Here you will find important details about the Brandeis SPARK Program. This program, sponsored by the Hassenfeld Family Innovation Center through the Brandeis University Virtual Incubator Program, is designed to encourage and support entrepreneurial activity within the Brandeis community, including students (graduate and undergraduate), postdocs, faculty and staff.  The awards are intended to help bring your ideas and entrepreneurial ambitions to life.  SPARK funding has been made possible by a donation from the Hassenfeld Family Initiatives.  New this year, SPARK applicants are encouraged to participate in Lean LaunchPad training as they develop their innovative ideas with the help of customer discovery and validation processes. The intent to apply for both programs is now closed. Good luck to all participants!

Second Annual SPARK Awards

On January 29, 2016, eleven teams presented their projects at our SPARKTANK competition.  A total of six teams from across campus received funding to move their innovations to the next level.  Read to learn about this year's winning proposals as well as a Q&A with participant, David Matthews '16, on what it means to be a #DeisInnovator.

Many teams benefited from our training series presented throughout the fall of 2015.  Feel free to view these training sessions to learn more about intellectual property, entrepreneurship, and fundraising.


Software Patents
Jack Cook - Bio
Video

Case Studies in Social Entrepreneurship
Larry Simon - Bio
Video
  
Philanthropic Fundraising
David Whalen - Bio
Video

Lessons on the Road to Entrepreneurship
Asya Bashina - Bio
Video

Stayed tuned for the 3rd Annual SPARK award announcement in the fall of 2016

Who May Apply 

Undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, faculty and staff from any Brandeis department or school are eligible to apply for SPARK. Please note that at least one team member must be a Brandeis affiliate.


Eligible Projects 

The new SPARK Program at Brandeis provides pilot funding for innovative projects that involve the environment, education, computer science, healthcare, economic solutions, or social needs. The projects should further have a positive social, educational or financial impact. Some examples of such projects would be a smartphone or web app, educational tools, social solutions, cyber security, big data and arts.


Award Amounts 

At least $50,000 in SPARK funds are awarded annually divided among the most promising projects. The amount of funding is commensurate with the scope of the project and is distributed based on achievement of project milestones.


Intellectual Property

For students that are exempt from the Brandeis University Intellectual Property (IP) Policy, the teams will own the IP and/or any source code unless (a) one of the team members falls under the IP policy; and/or (b) significant Brandeis resources are utilized in the project. Brandeis University Intellectual Property Policy can be found on the OTL website.  Please contact Anu Ahuja (aahuja@brandeis.edu, 6-2490) with specific questions.


Evaluation Criteria

SPARK Program Final Proposals are judged by a panel of independent, outside advisors. Applications will be judged using the following criteria:

  • Potential for social, educational or financial impact;
  • Potential importance of the proposed project;
  • Overall quality of proposed project plan;
  • Competence, balance and completeness of entrepreneurial team;
  • Probability of achieving proposed goal with the Award resources and in the time proposed;
  • Degree of innovation and novelty in the proposed project;
  • Possibility of attracting future development funding to advance the proposed project.