Piloting Research Innovation & Market Exploration (PRIME) Grant


The Piloting Research Innovation & Market Exploration (PRIME) grant administered by UW–Madison’s Discovery to Product (D2P) aims to enable campus innovators to conduct research activities that mitigate early-stage market risks. PRIME grants are intended to support critical research necessary for commercialization of innovations from UW–Madison researchers. Funded research activities must advance the project to reach critical commercialization milestones and/or enable the generation of additional private and public sector support. The grant will fund research conducted on the UW–Madison campus and may include off-campus fieldwork, pilot or market/consumer testing, market research and other activities needed to complete the research. Research outcomes must advance the project’s commercialization journey with broader impact to advance the economy of the state of Wisconsin and beyond.

PRIME research grants can complement other funding that the applicant may have from federal, state, university, nonprofit, or private industry partnerships.


Campus Innovators applying for this grant can be UW–Madison faculty or staff with PI status or staff and current students with PI Sponsors. PI Sponsors are faculty and staff who have temporary or permanent PI status and can validate the research methodology and findings.

The submitted research proposal must have a strong commercial plan supported by previous market or customer discovery research.

Prior to writing a proposal, we highly recommend that innovators engage with D2P’s Innovation and Commercialization mentors. D2P mentors have experience guiding innovators on customer discovery research, formulating pathways to commercialization, and framing research plans to be impactful for successful technology commercialization. While not required, applicants who have completed entrepreneurship programs and have done market research are typically well positioned to apply for PRIME funds.

To qualify for funding, the following three criteria must be met:

  1. The research will take place at the University of Wisconsin–Madison;
  2. The applicant should have PI status or a PI sponsor (Faculty or Staff with PI status who will validate the research methodology and outcomes); and
  3. The proposed research is designed to facilitate the commercialization and market adoption of the innovator’s technology, product, or service and provide a positive impact on the economy of the state of Wisconsin.


We invite proposals for fiscal year 2025 (funding available from October 15, 2024 through June 30, 2025) that focus on research linked to achieving commercial milestones related to a technology, product, or service that has a high potential to benefit Wisconsin’s industrial and economic development in the near term. Due to funding source, cost extensions are not typically allowed. Successful proposals will be funded in the range of $25K to $50K and will be disbursed through UW–Madison academic departments. PRIME awards are funded on 101 accounts which means that any salary awarded will not have fringe benefits charged to this fund.

Deadline to apply: The deadline for proposals for fiscal year 2025 is Friday, September 27, 2024.


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Font size should be 11 points or larger. Smaller text in figures, graphs, diagrams, timelines and charts is acceptable, as long as it is legible when the page is viewed at 100%.  Provide at least ½ inch margin on all sides. Other features including images should be in keeping with the purpose of ensuring ease of readability for the reviewers. Define or avoid technical jargon and spell out acronyms the first time used, followed by a notation of the abbreviation in parentheses.


The PRIME grant is a market de-risking commercialization research grant. Therefore, the research proposed must directly serve to reduce market adoption or expansion risk and advance commercialization efforts. Successful proposals provide a clear objective of what primary market risk is addressed and how the project deliverables will advance the idea towards commercialization.

The Project Proposal narrative should not exceed 4 pages. Information outside the page limit include the submission cover page, budget form, public-facing abstract, applicant/team background and letters of support.

The Project Proposal should include the following content (with approximate page lengths):

  • Introduction, Significance and Innovation (suggested length ~1 page): The introduction should provide background and context for both the research proposal as well as the commercialization need/problem being solved, market opportunity and value proposition. The proposal should address the uniqueness of the innovation, its commercial application, and other significant topics where successful outcomes transform the company, launch an industry and/or positively impact the Wisconsin economy. The innovation may employ novel concepts, approaches, methodologies, services, tools, or technologies.
  • Research Plan/Approach (suggested length ~1 pages): The research plan should be well organized, well defined, and utilize appropriate frameworks, design, methods, and analyses. It should describe the proposed research, stating how the research will be conducted, what specific risk is being addressed, and how the results will support commercial benefit for the company. Metrics for measuring successful mitigation of risk and project timeline and milestones should be clearly presented and be achievable within the funding deadline of June 30, 2025.
  • Commercialization Plan (suggested length ~1 1/2 pages): This section should illustrate how the proposed research plan and milestones impact the overall commercialization plan. The commercialization plan should identify target customers and the associated value proposition, potential market size, and how the innovation will be delivered to the market. Key areas to address include competitive forces, regulatory approach (if appropriate), intellectual property strategy, and short/long term funding strategy. This section should show the status and readiness level of the innovation and include a roadmap or timeline to show how the research project fits into the larger commercialization plan.
  • Impact: Social +/or Economic (suggested length ~1/2 page): This section should describe tangible and measurable impacts that the successful launch of the innovation would have on social and/or economic welfare of Wisconsin and beyond (e.g., job creation, leveraged funding, transfer of IP, future collaborations, interactions with other Wisconsin companies, etc.).


The public-facing abstract should be a clear and concise description of the project proposal using plain language understandable to a large audience. The abstract should be 200 words or less.  If selected for funding, the abstract may be used in news releases, therefore do not include proprietary information.


Identify and describe the strengths of the team including PI, PI sponsor and key research and team personnel, demonstrating how they are suited to carry out the work required. If research is associated with a specific company owned by the PI or project team, a high-level summary of the company, organization history, funding, etc. should be provided. This section should not exceed 1.5 pages.


If the research proposal is associated with an existing UW–Madison spinout entity, a letter of support is required from the company’s leadership that describes the impact this research will have on the company’s commercialization plans and anticipated outcomes. We encourage applicants to provide additional letters of support for their proposal demonstrating commercialization readiness and established relationships necessary to pursue the research and/or commercialization. Letters may include support from commercial partners and target customers, for example.


If the funding is in support of a current company, the application must include a Company Acknowledgement Form signed by the company. The form acknowledges the intellectual property rights and reporting requirements associated with the PRIME Program.


Proposals that meet the eligibility requirements will be reviewed by a committee comprised of individuals involved with commercialization of research and technology transfer. Reviewers will evaluate proposals for strengths in the following areas: 1) Proposal Innovation 2) Commercialization Plan and 3) Overall Impact.

1) Proposal Innovationfor
The innovation addresses a clear market need in a unique way and is capable of delivering significant value in use. A realistic, well-defined research plan/approach that addresses specific market risk(s) has been developed to move the technology closer to commercialization.

2) Commercialization Plan
The project has clear identifiable and quantifiable benefits and has an opportunity for commercial success. The target market and customers have been identified. The project has distinct competitive advantage, and the size of the market is compelling and growing.

3) Overall Impact
This project will advance the innovation and make a positive impact in the market space and the Wisconsin economy.

Reviewers will score proposals with both numeric scores as well as written feedback.  As these funds are state economic development funds, successful applications propose research that significantly “moves the needle” to accelerate product/service deployment into the Wisconsin economy.

Proposals are reviewed by a committee with combined business and academic research experience.  Results of proposal reviews are expected within 3 weeks of the application deadline.


Your submission must include the following:

  1. Cover Page*   |  Download template (Word)
  2. Budget Form*   |  Download template (Excel)
  3. Project Proposal (4-page limit)
  4. Public facing abstract
  5. Investigator/Team, Company
  6. Letters of Support
  7. Company Acknowledgement Form* | Download Template (Word)

* Please use provided templates for the Cover Page, Budget Form and Company Acknowledgement Form.

Please be sure to review these reporting requirements on the cover page (above) before you submit your application.

PIs: Email your proposal to your department and have them sign the cover page as a way to document that they approve the proposal. They can then email it to your division for approval.

School/College: Please sign the cover page as a way to document that you approve the proposal and then email it to prime@d2p.wisc.edu.

Questions? Please email D2P at prime@d2p.wisc.edu

Reporting Requirements and Forms for PRIME Recipients

Fiscal Year 2024-2025 PRIME Grant Recipients

Reports are required and due by the dates below:

Upload your final report