Overview

The University Center Economic Development Program, an initiative of the Economic Development Administration (EDA) within the U.S. Department of Commerce, makes the resources of universities available to local communities. The program is specifically designed to marshal the resources located within colleges and universities to support regional economic development strategies.

The EDA University Center program at the University of Rochester Ain Center for Entrepreneurship aims to support aspiring and early-stage entrepreneurs and small business owners in the Rochester and Finger Lakes region by providing access to entrepreneurial training for student, faculty, staff, alumni and community teams to help them achieve their business potential.

Successful completion of an eligible training program enables student teams to apply for a modest grant of $1,000 – $2,000.

If you have completed the NSF I-Corps Site Program, your funding request to the EDA University Center must be for different expenses.

Eligible Training Opportunities

Applicants may apply for EDA University Center funding upon the successful completion of one of the following entrepreneurial training courses or programs, provided they meet all other eligibility criteria:

If you have completed other entrepreneurial training that you believe may qualify you to be eligible for EDA funding, please contact Heidi Mergenthaler.

*If you have completed the NSF I-Corps Site Program, your funding request to the EDA University Center must be for different expenses.

Funding Eligibility

All current University of Rochester undergraduate, graduate students, and doctoral students are eligible to apply for EDA University Center funding.

Proposed business ventures should be in either the idea, development, or startup stages. The venture must operate in and/or provide a benefit, whether economic, social, cultural or intellectual, to an urban or rural community in the greater Rochester region.

Applications will be judged on the criteria of:

  • Team and commitment
  • Market potential
  • Strength and feasibility of benefit provided to Rochester and/or surrounding region
  • Fit with regional economic development goals

Teams will receive access to half of the grant funding upon application approval. Teams will receive access to the second half of the grant award after submitting a one-page progress report. Details will be provided upon acceptance. Failure to complete the progress report may result in forfeiture and/or repayment of grant awards.

Funding is primarily in the form of reimbursement but some other funding methods are available. Please refer to the Expense Types tab on the left for the complete financial guidelines. The spending window is six months from your email notice of award. Short extensions of one to two months may be granted on a case-by-case basis with the approval of the program manager.

Teams may apply only once per application cycle. Individuals may only be on one team per application cycle.

If you have completed the NSF I-Corps Site Program, your funding request to the EDA University Center must be for different expenses.

Selection Criteria

Applications will be judged on the criteria of:

  • Team and commitment
  • Market potential
  • Strength and feasibility of benefit provided to Rochester and/or surrounding region
  • Fit with regional economic development goals

Expense Types and Financial Guidelines

The following outlines expense types that will be considered for approval and those that are prohibited under this grant. These guidelines also describe which funding method(s) may be used to pay for the various expense types. See the Funding Methods Key below for a detailed explanation of each method and its restrictions. The spending window is six months from your email notice of award. Short extensions of one to two months may be granted on a case-by-case basis with the approval of the program manager.

Teams will receive access to half of the grant funding upon application approval. Teams will receive access to the second half of the grant award after submitting a one-page progress report. Details will be provided upon acceptance. Failure to complete the progress report may result in forfeiture and/or repayment of grant awards.

*All expenses must adhere to the EDA University Center Funding guidelines and are subject to the review and approval of the Ain Center for Entrepreneurship and the Economic Development Administration.

If you have completed the NSF I-Corps Site Program, your funding request to the EDA University Center must be for different expenses.

Permitted Expense Types Use For Applicable Funding Methods
Materials and Supplies
  • Materials and supplies used to create a prototype (for product) or pilot program (for services)
I / R / PC
Meetings and Conferences
  • Cost of admission as well as ancillary costs (i.e., transportation, meals, speaker’s fees, etc.)
  • Conferences related to your product/service’s industry
  • Meetings hosted by the team for the purpose of customer discovery or market research
I / R / PC
Transportation
  • Costs related to the delivery of goods (i.e., postage)
I / R
Travel Costs
  • Costs related to travel, accommodations, and meals while traveling
R / F2
Contractors
  • Contracted work is only approved so long as the proposed work is to be completed by 1) a student of the University of Rochester (SE) - see additional requirements below; or 2) a firm the meets the University’s contractor guidelines (I)
I / SE

Funding Methods Key

  1. Invoice (I): Established firm directly invoices the Ain Center for payment.
  2. P-Card (PC): Purchases made with the Ain Center department credit card. There are restrictions on the items and services that are billed to the card, so requests to use the P-Card will be reviewed on those criteria as well.
  3. Reimbursement (R): Approved purchases made by an I-Corps team member and later repaid by the Ain Center.
    *Thorough documentation and receipts of purchases are required for reimbursement.
  4. Student Employment (SE): UR students are hired by the Ain Center department and compensated at an hourly rate. Grantees and UR student employment candidates must review the requirements for this funding method and schedule a consultation with Natalie Antal via Calendly.
    *Only University of Rochester students are eligible for compensation through this method.
  5. F-2 Request for Advance Travel Form (F2): Transportation-specific expenses billed to the Ain Center department directly.
    *Only valid for travel plans made 30+ days in advance.
    *May only be used for air or rail transportation.

Prohibited Expenses

  1. Administrative (i.e. office supplies and equipment)
  2. Legal Fees (i.e. patent applications, incorporation fees, attorney retainer and hourly fees)
  3. Alcohol
  4. Gift Cards

Full Financial Guidelines

Receipts submitted for reimbursement must only be for the individual receiving reimbursement.

  1. Materials and Supplies (I, R, PC): Materials and supplies are defined as tangible personal property other than equipment, costing less than $5,000.
    1. Only materials and supplies actually used for the performance of a sponsored agreement may be charged as direct costs.
    2. Materials and supplies must be integral in the function or development of the product or service to be eligible.
  2. Meetings and Conferences (I, R, PC): Costs of meetings, trade shows, and conferences are allowable. This includes the cost of meals, transportation, registration fees, rental of facilities, speakers’ fees, and other items incidental to such meetings or conferences.
    1. Alcohol is strictly prohibited for reimbursement and may not appear on any receipt submitted for reimbursement.
  3. Transportation (I, R): Costs incurred for freight, express, cartage, postage, and other transportation services relating either to goods purchased, in process, or delivered.
  4. Travel Costs (R, F2): Travel costs are the expenses for transportation, lodging, subsistence, and related items. Such costs may be charged on an actual cost basis or on a per diem or mileage basis in lieu of actual costs incurred.
    1. Lodging and Subsistence:
      1. Costs of lodging, other subsistence, and incidental expenses shall be covered as long as they are reasonable and allocable as defined above.
      2. Teams must utilize the federal government’s per diem rate schedule to determine maximum allowable expenses for lodging and subsistence in destination.
    2. Commercial Air Travel:
      1. Airfare costs in excess of the customary standard commercial airfare (coach or equivalent), or the lowest commercial discount airfare are unallowable except when such accommodations would:
        1. Require circuitous routing.
        2. Require travel during unreasonable hours.
        3. Excessively prolong travel.
        4. Result in additional costs that would offset the transportation savings; or
        5. Offer accommodations not reasonably adequate for the traveler’s medical needs. Teams must justify and document these conditions on a case-by-case basis in order for the use of first-class airfare to be allowable in such cases.
    3. Destinations
      1. Any proposed domestic travel outside the contiguous US or to any warm-weather “vacation” destination, will need formal approval by Duncan Moore and the PI.
    4. Pre-Departure Meeting
      1. Teams must meet with the I-Corps Site Program Manager prior to any travel to review financial guidelines and expectations while traveling.
  5. Contractors (I, SE): Payments to contractors or University of Rochester students who are not associated with the business. These contractors and/or student employees will have to be pre-cleared by the Selection Committee to ensure no conflicts of interest exist. No payments are permitted to the grant recipients and/or team members. UR students are hired by the Ain Center department and compensated at an hourly rate. Grantees and UR student employment candidates must review the requirements for this funding method and schedule a consultation with Natalie Antal via Calendly.

Application Deadline

There are no upcoming events at this time.

Questions?

Contact Heidi Mergenthaler, Program Manager.