Blue Hen Proof of Concept

HE-2022-Versogen-Junhua-Wang (670 × 377 px)

Research and Commercialization

The University of Delaware (UD) Blue Hen Proof of Concept Program (BH-POC) is designed to unlock the potential of innovations developed at UD by providing entrepreneurship training, mentorship, and financial support during the initial technology commercialization activities of researchers and inventors across campus.

The program’s goal is to translate novel innovations into marketable products and viable ventures that will make a positive impact on the world. It supports building prototypes & proving technology concepts, validating that the technology will meet customers’ needs & wants, and developing a viable business case to secure additional funding opportunities.

The Blue Hen Proof of Concept program at UD provides substantial financial support to our aspiring entrepreneurs, and thus enables them to pursue new and bigger opportunities.

- Yushan Yan Associate Dean for Research and Entrepreneurship for the College of Engineering

Program Components

The BH-POC Program utilizes a multi-stage model wherein each stage is associated with commercial, business, and technical milestones and funding tranches to maximize efficiency by providing:

Training & Mentorship

The team will undergo an intensive training program to develop skills in business leadership and understanding of the market potential of the technology. The team will learn how to identify early evangelists, the technology’s value propositions, revenue models and more.

Market Exposure

The team will meet with many potential customers during their training to develop their business model. This necessary engagement will greatly increase the team’s network within their market sector which will lead to their first customers, letters of support for grants and recommendations.

Gap Funding

Granted-based funding will be available at a maximum of $50,000 for projects leveraging UD-owned IP or a maximum of $10,000 for all other projects. These funds should be used to build and test the validated minimum viable product or prototype for which customers would pay. These funds should also be used to drive towards the next funding opportunity, especially through SBIR/STTR grants, VentureWell E-Teams grants, or other gap funds/training programs.

Startup Seed Funding

Consideration for up to $250,000 of equity-based funding from the UD launch Fund to create a new company and fill core team needs to support the development of a viable business model positioning the venture for the next venture capital funding opportunities.


  • Toolset to evaluate the societal impact and commercial relevance of the research or technology
  • Access to the $50,000 NSF I-Corps Teams or the $25,000 VentureWell E-Teams grant for additional business model development training
  • An increase in possibility of receiving a $225,000 Small Business Innovation Research or Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) grant from the federal government
  • Access to resources, facilities, consulting and mentoring


All University of Delaware faculty, researchers, staff, undergraduate students, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows are eligible to apply, regardless of their technology sector.

A team of 2-3 is ideal. One team member, the Entrepreneurial Lead (EL), should be able to move the project forward and start the company, if it is formed. The other team member, the Principal Investigator (PI), might be less able to join the company but could participate in an advisory role. Both team members should have an understanding of the technology and be willing to adapt it based on customer feedback. Lastly, if the team can identify a mentor who has industry or startup experience, they should be included on the application.

The technology should be at a Technology Readiness Level around 3. This means active R&D is initiated which includes analytical and laboratory studies to validate the predictions of separate elements of the technology. No products or prototypes should be made yet and no sales or investment should have been received at the point of application submission.


Fall 2023

September 1, 2023

Application Deadline

September 15, 2023

Selection Board

Winter 2024

January 1, 2024

Application Deadline

January 15, 2024

Selection Board