State Economic Engagement & Development (SEED) Fund

SEED proposals are accepted annually in February.


The State Economic Engagement & Development (SEED) Research Program grants are administered by Discovery to Product (D2P). SEED grants allow UW–Madison faculty and academic staff with ownership in a Wisconsin company to apply for funding to engage in innovative research, generate additional private and public sector support for their research programs, and promote technology transfer between the University and industry.


Prior to writing a proposal, we highly recommend that innovators engage with D2P’s Innovation and Commercialization mentors. These consultations can prove helpful in framing the proposal’s research plan as a necessary and impactful step toward successful technology commercialization that benefits the company and broader Wisconsin economy. While not required, applicants who have completed entrepreneurship programs and have done market research are typically well positioned to apply for SEED funds.

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

  1. The research will take place on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus;
  2. The faculty or academic staff applicant has ownership in a high-growth startup or emerging growth company that is located in or will locate in Wisconsin, offer significant potential for increasing jobs or increasing capital investment in Wisconsin, and which will benefit from their UW–Madison research; and
  3. The proposed research is designed to facilitate the commercialization of the company’s technology.


We invite proposals for fiscal year 2024 (funding available from July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2024) that focus on research that is technically innovative, of interest to a broad economic sector, and has a high potential to benefit Wisconsin’s industrial and economic development in the near term. The $600,000 in currently available SEED funding will be used to fund approximately 6-12 proposals. SEED 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 Thursday, February 15, 2024.

Important note: There are changes to reporting requirements for fiscal year 2023. Please review changes under Reporting Requirements and Forms. Similar reporting requirement may apply for fiscal year 2024 recipients.



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FY24 SEED-Funded Projects

Michael Arnold (Professor of Materials Science and Engineering) will work with SixLine Semiconductor to modernize traditionally silicon-dependent microelectronics. The project will leverage advancements made at UW–Madison to purify and assemble carbon nanotubes and develop semiconductor devices that vastly outperform those conventionally fabricated with silicon.

Seungpyo Hong (Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences), David Al-Adra (Assistant Professor of Surgery) and Michael Poellmann (Scientist of Pharmaceutical Sciences) will work with Capio Biosciences to develop a highly sensitive and specific liquid biopsy for the capture, recovery, and sequencing of circulating tumor cells. While the funding will support the development and validation of the test for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), they expect to extend to a wide variety of cancers.

George W. Huber (Professor of Chemical Engineering), together with Pyran Inc., will work to advance chemical reaction technology to produce several bio-based monomers (specialized molecules) from sugars derived from agricultural waste. These monomers can be used in the synthesis of nylons and polyesters to enhance the performance of more expensive and less sustainable petroleum-derived plastics.

Sanbrita Mondal (Senior Research Scientist) and Kimberly D. Mueller (Assistant Professor), will work with Sensify, Inc. to implement clinical testing of SensifyAware, a digital platform for remote assessment of olfaction, and along with retinal imaging, develop a non-invasive workflow to screen for early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. This study aims to improve the product’s viability, reliability and usability.

Sabine Pellett (Scientist, Department of Bacteriology) and William Tepp (Researcher, Department of Bacteriology) will work with WisperBio to develop a biological pharmaceutical to treat neuromuscular disorders. The research team will optimize production and purification strategies to refine production and achieve a high-quality, well-defined and stable drug substance.

Erica Shu (Biochemistry Teaching Faculty), along with EzraBio, Inc., will work to refine their next-generation automated RNA sequencing preparation platform. The product will significantly increase protein synthesis analysis speed and accuracy for biomedical researchers and pharmaceutical companies.

Adel M. Talaat (Professor of Pathobiological Sciences) and Vireo Vaccine International will collaborate to develop a novel nanoadjuvant vaccine delivery platform. The funding will support the development and testing of a vaccine against paratuberculosis (Johne’s disease), a significant health problem for the dairy industry in Wisconsin.

FY23 SEED-Funded Projects

Jose Ayuso (Professor of Dermatology) and David Beebe (Professor of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine & Biomedical Engineering) will work with Salus Discovery to develop Griddient, a versatile research tool for studying biological signals and biochemical gradients in 3D microenvironments. The funding will support research and development of the Griddient platform for stem cell research, neuroscience, and cancer research applications.

Kyoung-Shin Choi (Professor of Chemistry) is working with ChloBis Water, Inc. to develop an energy efficient water desalination technology that removes salt from water and converts that salt into useful chemicals that can be repurposed. The team will optimize methods for removal and reuse of salt compounds from various saline water sources including wastewater. This technology can improve access to and preservation of freshwater sources, an important global challenge.

Beth Drolet (Professor & Chair of the Department of Dermatology) together with Arkayli Biopharma, Inc. is developing a new topical skin-based drug delivery system for treatment of hemangiomas (benign tumors) in infants to reduce unwanted side effects related to standard treatments. The funding will enable the creation of a new 3D validation tool to track changes in tumor size over time, a necessary step for clinical validation.

Dawei Feng (Assistant Professor of Materials Science & Engineering & Chemistry) will work on expanding flow battery technology, enabling Flux XII, LLC to enhance their energy storage solutions and provide cost-effective, safe and longer duration energy storage. By partnering with microgrid manufacturers and utilities, Flux XII hopes to deploy energy storage systems tied to wind and solar energy generation.

Joseph Grudzinski (Scientist III, Department of Radiology) and Justin Jeffery (Instrumentation Technologist II) will work with Phantech to develop devices that enable quantitative nuclear medicine imaging. The funding will support the development of a line of novel anthropomorphic phantoms designed to mimic human anatomy as closely as possible which may support the further development of personalized radiopharmaceutical therapy.

Amish Raval (Associate Professor of Medicine) will work with Cellular Logistics to develop a biomaterial produced from stem cells to treat patients with advanced heart failure. The funding will support research to further characterize the safety and efficacy of the biomaterial. Data from these studies will support a planned FDA Investigational New Drug (IND) submission and subsequent future human clinical trial.

Damon Smith (Associate Professor of Plant Pathology) will work with Field Prophet to deliver and commercialize expanded corn and soybean disease prediction models that will help farmers increase profitability, adapt to changing weather patterns, and prevent the overuse of pesticides. The software alerts a farmer before an infection occurs, so they have time to protect their crops and apply pesticides only when needed and at the right point in time.

Matthew Wolff (Professor of Medicine) and Timothy Kamp (Professor of Medicine) will work with Table Bluff Life Sciences to develop new therapies for an inherited and aggressive form of dilated cardiomyopathy (a disease of the heart muscle). The funding will support research to provide additional disease-specific proof of concept for the therapeutic approach and will use UW–Madison’s stem cell expertise to test the treatments for efficacy, safety, and specificity.

FY22 SEED-Funded Projects

David Beebe (Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine & Biomedical Engineering) will work with Flambeau Diagnostics to develop a rapid, point-of-care molecular diagnostic test for infectious diseases such as COVID-19. The test is designed to be very simple to operate, ultimately enabling at-home testing by untrained users, while achieving assay performance approaching that of conventional lab-based molecular (PCR) tests.

Allan Brasier (Executive Director of UW–Madison’s Institute for Clinical and Translational Research) and Seungpyo Hong (Director of Wisconsin Center for NanoBioSystems) will work with Quadragenics on novel molecular drug delivery technologies that aim to help reverse the impact of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a fatal lung disease that affects approximately 40,000 patients in the United States per year.

George Huber (Professor of Chemical Engineering) will work with Pyran to utilize UW–Madison resources to help advance and commercialize their PyranDiol technology. PyranDiol uses renewable wood and crop waste resources to make paints and plastics precursors at a much lower cost than oil-based products.

David Hsu (Professor of Pediatric Neurology), Bermans Iskandar (Professor of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics), Christopher Luzzio (Associate Professor of Neurology), and Joshua Medow (Associate Professor of Neurosurgery) will work with Madison Scientific, Inc. to advance and commercialize their SmartValve technology, which is a shunt valve used in the treatment of hydrocephalus, the leading cause of childhood brain surgery worldwide, and a serious cause of morbidity and death. SmartValve improves upon current technology in that it is tailored to each patient’s needs and drains in response to intracranial pressure signals. SmartValve is predicted to be significantly more durable than current commercial shunt valves, which have a failure rate of nearly 50% after two years.

Frank Pfefferkorn (Professor of Mechanical Engineering), Eric Severson (Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering), and Dan Thoma (Professor of Materials Science and Engineering) will work with Dastan Technologies to develop the world’s first fully 3D-printed electric motor for aircraft that uses electric power to hover, take off, and land vertically.

Eric Schmuck (Senior Scientist, Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research) will work with Cellular Logistics to advance their Tandem HF technology, which utilizes stem cell therapy to naturally revitalize heart tissue damaged by cardiovascular disease. The project team aims to establish partnerships with cellular therapy companies and move cardiac stem cell therapies into clinical settings.

FY21 SEED-Funded Projects

David Beebe (Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine & Biomedical Engineering) will work with Salus Discovery to develop a test that helps predict the potential efficacy of immunotherapy treatments targeting solid tumors in cancer patients. The test uses cells isolated from the patient’s tumor to provide patient-specific data to help clinicians decide which patients will benefit from costly immunotherapy treatments and which will not.

Jo Handelsman (Director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and Professor of Plant Pathology) will work with Wacasa on a project tackling the pressing issue of antibiotic resistance by identifying and testing molecules produced by soil microbes as potential new antibiotics. Promising candidates are identified from a large library of soil isolates collected by a worldwide network of 10,000 students each year who enroll in the research-based Tiny Earth course.

Seungpyo Hong (Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences) will work with Capio Biosciences, Inc to develop a liquid biopsy test that uses nanotechnology to detect the presence of cancer in the body through a minimally invasive blood draw. The project will validate the test’s ability to isolate, purify, and detect unique biomarkers in the blood that indicate the presence of a malignant tumor in the body.

Robert Radwin (Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering) will work with Güd Medical to fabricate and test an ergonomic syringe adapter device that prevents repetitive motion injuries in pharmacy, hospital, clinic, and research settings. Commercialization of the adapter device will facilitate more ergonomic, accurate, precise, and sterile preparation of IV compounded medicines than current methods allow.

Adel M. Talaat (Professor of Pathobiological Sciences) will work with Pan Genome Systems, Inc to create a vaccine to protect immunocompromised individuals from diseases caused by non-tuberculosis mycobacteria (NTM), a group of common bacteria that are becoming more problematic for humans. The novel vaccine will be developed and tested in mice to determine its efficacy.

Andreas Velten (Professor of Biostatics and Medical Informatics) will work with OnLume, Inc to develop imaging technology that allows for better detection of tumor margins in a surgical setting. The technology utilizes specialized lighting and a measurement technique based on the rate and timing of light absorption and emission in tumor cells that produces optimal viewing.



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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 SEED grant is a commercialization research grant proposal. Therefore, the research proposed must directly serve to advance the commercialization efforts for the company and demonstrate economic impact for the State of Wisconsin.  Successful proposals provide a roadmap for how the project deliverables will be commercialized under a sustainable business model.

The Project Proposal narrative should not exceed 6 pages. Information outside the page limit include the submission cover page, budget form, public-facing abstract, investigator/environment/company 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, context and value proposition. The proposal should address significant topics where successful outcomes transform the company, launch an industry and/or positively impact the Wisconsin economy. The project and extended commercial application of the research should be original and challenge existing paradigms. The innovation may employ novel concepts, approaches, methodologies, services. tools, or technologies.
  • Research Plan/Approach (suggested length ~2 pages): The research plan should be well organized, well defined, and utilize appropriate frameworks, design, methods, and analyses. The research plan should describe the proposed research, stating how the research will be conducted and how the results will support commercial benefit for the company. Project milestones should be identified.
  • Commercialization Plan (suggested length ~3 pages): This section should illustrate how the proposed research milestones impact the commercialization plan. This section should succinctly describe the product/service resulting from research-supported innovation. The plan should identify commercialization topics such as target customers, value proposition, market opportunity, comparison to in-market technology, market delivery channels, revenue models, regulatory/reimbursement strategy (if appropriate), intellectual property strategy, and short/long term funding strategy. This section should include a roadmap or timeline to show how the research project fits into the larger commercialization plan. As a result, this section should align with company’s overarching business plan and goals and demonstrate impact for the Wisconsin economy (e.g. job creation, leveraged funding, transfer of IP, future collaborations with your spinoff, interactions with other Wisconsin companies).


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 PI and key research personnel, demonstrating how they are suited to carry out the work required. Describe the scientific environment for the research and justify appropriateness for the project, contributing to the probability of success. In addition, a high-level summary of the company, organization history, funding, etc. should be provided. This section should not exceed 2 pages.


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 up to two additional letters of support for their proposal demonstrating commercialization readiness and established relationships necessary to pursue the research and/or commercialization aims. Letters may include support from the commercial partners and target customer, for example.


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 SEED 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 Innovation
A problem/unmet need has been identified and a compelling solution is being proposed. The innovation promises to deliver significant value in use. There is a realistic project plan and 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 technology and make a strong 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 typically available within 6-8 weeks of the application deadline. Reviewer feedback is shared anonymously with applicants.


PIs: Use WISPER to route your proposal.

Your submission must include the following:

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

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

Important Note: D2P has applied for a grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) to augment the amount of SEED funding available for fiscal year 2024. If received, WEDC funding would require continuation of reporting requirements in place for fiscal year 2023. Be sure to review these reporting requirements on the cover page before you submit your application.

  • On the General tab:
    • Select “OVCRGE” as the document type.
    • Select “University of Wisconsin-Madison” as the sponsor.
    • Ensure all clearance questions are answered and any required protocol information is provided.
  • On the “Attachments” tab, upload a copy of the entire application as a PDF file.
  • Electronically complete the PI signatures for both Award and Proposal.
  • Route to your division as you do with other WISPER records.

School/College: Do NOT submit the WISPER record to the SPO. Sign the WISPER record and route directly to Jesse Lynch.

Questions? Please email D2P at

Reporting Requirements and Forms for SEED Recipients - FY2022

Fiscal Year 2022 SEED Grant Recipients:

UW-Madison received $200,000 from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) Capital Catalyst Program to augment the state funding the university has available for Fiscal Year 2022 (July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022) to support the SEED Research Program. Funded commercialization research will be supported by both state SEED and WEDC funding. Both mandate specific reporting requirements.

Reports are required and due by the dates below:

Email your reports

Click Here (PDF) for more information on reporting requirements.

Reporting Requirements and Forms for SEED Recipients - FY2023

Fiscal Year 2023 SEED Grant Recipients:

UW-Madison received $300,000 from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) Capital Catalyst Program to augment the state funding the university has available for Fiscal Year 2023 (July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023) to support the SEED Research Program. Funded commercialization research will be supported by both state SEED and WEDC funding. Both mandate specific reporting requirements.
Reports are required and due by the dates below:

Email your reports

Click Here (PDF) for more information on reporting requirements.

Reporting Requirements and Forms for SEED Recipients - FY2024

Fiscal Year 2024 SEED Grant Recipients:

D2P has applied for a grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) to augment the amount of SEED funding available for fiscal year 2024. If received, WEDC funding would require continuation of reporting requirements in place for fiscal year 2023.

Reports would be required and due by the dates below:


Email your reports

Click Here (PDF) for more information on reporting requirements.