The LEAP Inventor Challenge awards funding to those with translational research and inventions with the goal of advancing Washington University’s intellectual property towards commercialization.

 

Formerly the “Bear Cub Challenge,” the LEAP Inventor Challenge engages and trains Washington University faculty, postdoc, graduate student, and staff teams towards commercial development of their technology or product.

Each year, there are three cycles of the LEAP Inventor Challenge. Throughout the program, teams receive mentorship from experts in their fields. At the end of each cycle, teams present to industry-relevant investors and representatives, and have the potential to win funding to help progress their inventions towards commercialization.

 


 

The Fall 2017 cycle is currently underway. The Spring 2018 cycle will begin in January 2018.  

 


 

Process:

  1. Register to Participate 
    This is an informal submission of your project title and description. Please note that your project MUST be non-confidential; it will be shared with external judges who will not sign an NDA.
  2. Attend the Mandatory Orientation 
  3. Complete Executive Summary 1st Draft
    • Submit Executive Summary 1st Draft [Download Template] plus field-specific questionnaire (received at Orientation)
    • Executive Summary Review: Applicants will meet with the LEAP Inventor Challenge advisory team. This includes the heads of the Skandalaris Center, the Center for Drug Discovery, the Office of Technology Management, and each department’s supporting members, such as New Venture Analysts, the head of the high throughput screening core, and tech transfer manager and associates. This is an informal 1-hour meeting where the LEAP Inventor Challenge advisory team hears about the project and offers advice about how to best to appeal to the judges in the final presentation. Participants will sign up for a meeting time after Orientation.
  4. Complete Pitch Deck
    • Submit Pitch Deck 1st Draft 
    • Pitch Deck Review: Applicants present their PowerPoint presentation (pitch deck) to the LEAP Inventor Challenge advisory team in a more formal setting. The presentation should last about 15 minutes. Following the presentation, the LEAP Inventor Challenge advisory team will provide feedback and simulate questions that the judges might ask in the final presentation. This Q&A will last about 45 minutes. Participants will sign up for a meeting time after Orientation.
  5. Submit Final Executive Summary
    Generally due one (1) week before the final presentation, the Final Executive Summary must match information presented in the pitch deck. This final document goes to the judges for review.
  6. Present to Judges
    Present to industry relevant judges who advise on funding. Similar to the Pitch Deck Review, prepare for a 15-minute presentation and 45 minutes of Q&A.

 

Funding

Judges score projects based on their belief that a small amount of capital will significantly advance a product closer to market. In 2016-2017, LEAP judges helped identify promising projects to whom Washington University deployed a total of $650,000 across three cycles.

 

Important FYI

Submissions must propose the development of a technology which has an invention disclosure on file with the Office of Technology Management (OTM) BEFORE the finals.

Questions about filing an invention disclosure with OTM? Contact otm@dom.wustl.edu.

 


 

Questions about the LEAP Inventor Challenge? Contact John Brenner.