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Duke Launches New Incubation Fund for Early-Stage Ideas

As part of an initiative to support early-stage entrepreneurship ideas, the Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative announced the creation of the Duke Incubation Fund. The new fund will invest more than $500,000 each year across 10 to 20 early-stage projects. Duke faculty, graduate students, post-docs, and medical residents will be eligible for the awards as long as their idea utilizes Duke intellectual property or leads to Duke intellectual property.

The fund is the first of its kind at Duke University to specifically support innovations at the ideation stage with the goal of providing a vehicle for projects that originate in the Duke community. The donors, Jeffrey and Suzanne Cirton—parents of a Duke sophomore—gave to the fund in the hopes of enabling dozens of grants over an initial four-year period.

“During my career as an entrepreneur, I have recognized how new ideas sometimes need exploration before a real value proposition can be developed,” Jeffrey Citron, founder of Vonage and long-time philanthropist, said in a press release. “Our hope for the Duke Incubation Fund is that it will catalyze innovative thinking across the university and perhaps lead to new technologies that could one day disrupt an industry.”

Initial grants provided by the fund are expected to average $20,000. Graduate students, including MBA students, who wish to apply must submit an application with the permission of a faculty advisor. The application must also include a detailed licensing strategy. Once funds are awarded, they can be spent within Duke or within a start-up company formed to commercialize the innovation.

For a proposal to be considered for funding, it should:

  • Demonstrate the feasibility of an idea or innovation,
  • Develop a working prototype,
  • Obtain supporting evidence or proof-of-concept,
  • Develop new applications or markets for an under-development technology, and
  • Lead to professionally produced content.

MBA students may submit multiple proposals simultaneously but will only receive funding for one project at a time. Preference is given to applications with a high potential for significant advancement.

To apply by the January 8, 2018 deadline, click here.

Posted in: [email protected], MBA Feature, News

Schools: Duke / Fuqua

About the Author


Kelly Vo  

Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and topics related to personal development. She has been working in the MBA space for the past four years in research, interview, and writing roles.

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