Blue Hen Proof of Concept


Research and Commercialization

The Blue Hen Proof of Concept (BH-POC) is a program designed to provide gap funding and training during the initial technology commercialization activities of researchers and inventors across campus. It supports building prototypes, proving technology concepts and validating that the technology will meet customers’ needs and wants.

“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

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

Depending upon which fund the team is eligible for, gap funds will be available at a maximum of $10,000 or $75,000. 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.


  • 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 2020

September 24, 2020

Applications due

October 12, 2020


October 26, 2020

Decisions announced

Winter 2021

January 21, 2021

Applications due

February 8, 2021


February 22, 2021

Decisions announced

Summer 2021

May 27, 2021

Applications due

June 14, 2021


June 28, 2021

Decisions announced