Blue Hen Venture Acceleration Lab

The Blue Hen Venture Acceleration Lab program at UD provides substantial mentoring and financial support to our aspiring entrepreneurs, and thus enables them to pursue new and bigger opportunities.

- Troy Wilford Director, Commercialization Programs

Program Components

The BH-VAL program operates in continuous 4-month cycles and relies on UD/Horn’s New Venture Development Roadmap (NVD Roadmap) to actively guide participants as they progress from milepost to milepost.

Training & Mentorship

BH-VAL participants will benefit from 1:1 sessions with an assigned Lead Mentor, who serves as the team’s primary advocate, as well as team-based mentoring sessions involving additional industry and/or subject matter experts.

Market Exposure

The team will meet with many potential customers as they 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. 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, state-sponsored grants, or other gap funds/training programs.

Startup Seed Funding

Consideration for initial funding up to $100,000 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.


BH-VAL offers four undamental benefits:

  • Dedicated, team-based mentoring from industry experts and successful entrepreneurs
  • Facilitated connection to a robust network of business service providers and subject matter experts
  • Access to on-going training & educational opportunities
  • Funding support for proof of concept/prototyping and LAUNCH acceleration


BH-VAL is open to any fulltime UD student, recent alumnus/alumnae (< 1 year post graduation), postdoctoral researcher, faculty, or staff member who has completed customer segment and problem statement validation and has demonstrated interest in and commitment to pursuing commercializing.

Quantitative criteria for eligibility include: 1) Identified and gathered validating evidence for a well-defined problem and customer segment, 2) Developed a compelling unique value proposition hypothesis for an envisioned solution, and 3) Demonstrated commitment to working on the venture 20+ hours per week. Qualitatively, applicants must demonstrate coachability. 

Ideal candidates for the BH-VAL will have previously completed Summer Founders, I-Corps Propelus or the InDE Fellows program.


Selection Board dates subject to change

Summer 2024

May 15, 2024

Application Deadline

June 3, 2024

Selection Board

Fall 2024

September 13, 2024

Application Deadline

October 7, 2024

Selection Board

Winter 2025

January 17, 2025

Application Deadline

February 3, 2025

Selection Board