• Ideas

HHS Ventures

Recent Updates:

  • 05/25 – Selected teams posted.
  • 04/01 – Thanks to all who submitted proposals! Please stay tuned for updates.


What Is HHS Ventures?

Accelerating Proven Concepts. HHS Ventures gives Department employees the opportunity to take their ideas to the next level of implementation. Selected from a pool of previously proven concepts, HHS Ventures gives teams a “Phase II” opportunity to continue development of their data-proven projects for up to 9 months with a budget up to $50,000.  By providing employees with the opportunity to take their ideas to the next phase, we are helping to encourage the growth of good ideas past the incubation phase. HHS employees now have the opportunity to tackle a new set of challenges such as scalability, sustainability and adoption of their projects while continuing to learn and iterate on their idea.

What you get with HHS Ventures:

  • 9 months of support for teams of up to 5 individuals
  • Access to a network of innovators
  • A suite of tools (technologies) typically not available to staff
  • Up to $50,000 to go towards your project

What HHS Ventures Requires:

  • 25-50% of your time. This is particularly true for the project lead. Other team members may be less depending on their role.
  • 3-days of an immersive “Accelerator Kick-off”. Teams selected into Ventures but not in the DC area will be flown in by HHS.
  • Regular reporting and check-ins

Please note:

  • All submitted project ideas must be supported by data
  • Not everyone is eligible to apply

Why was HHS Ventures Developed?

In March of 2013, Secretary Sebelius announced the “beta” year of HHS Ignite. Launched as part-seed fund and part-incubator, HHS Ignite (beta) supported 13 teams in order to test the concept of direct investments into Departmental projects.

A number of recommendations to the HHS Innovation Council came from that “beta” year of HHS Ignite. One recommendation was for the creation of a competitive “Phase II” opportunity that would support the scaling of the best projects.

To broaden the funnel of potential projects, the eligibility was expanded beyond simply those participating in HHS Ignite.

What Projects are Eligible for HHS Ventures?

There are four paths by which a project is eligible to be submitted for HHS Ventures support. Three of those are:

  • Projects that have previously gone through HHS Ignite
  • Projects that have been selected for an HHS Innovates Award
  • Projects that have previously gone through HHS Entrepreneurs

To ensure continuity, we require that at least one team member from the original (Ignite, Innovates, or Entrepreneurs) project team be on the Ventures team. If you are meeting one of these eligibility requirements, we’ ask in your proposal to specify for us the Pathway the project went through and also who on the team is being carried over to the Ventures effort.

In addition to the three above, there is a fourth type of project that is eligible for Ventures:

  • Projects submitted with the direct support of the head of your OpDiv

This provides the opportunity for Ventures support to any project within an HHS OpDiv that has demonstrated early success. If you are leveraging this eligibility requirement, we ask in your proposal to mention simply that you have the direct support of your OpDiv Administrator or Commissioner. We will reach be reaching out to that person following receipt of your proposal to verify.


Who can be on the project team?

Ventures teams can have up to 5 individuals. The project lead and at least 1 other individual must be full time employees (FTEs) of the Department. Other team members may be embedded contractors, federal employees outside of HHS, or individuals from academia, industry, or elsewhere in the private sector.


What is the process for selecting which projects will be supported?

Proposals submitted into Ventures will be evaluated by a panel of Reviewers based on the following criteria:

  1. Proposed project’s importance to and potential impact on OpDiv and HHS mission [35 points]
  2. Demonstrability of the evidence/data supporting the proposed steps [25 points]
  3. The feasibility of the project in terms of timeline, capital resources, personnel and program support. [25 points]
  4. The novelty and disruptive nature of the innovation concept being tested [15 points]

Teams submitting the top proposals will be asked to present and discuss their project with members of the HHS Innovation Council. The Council which will make recommendations to the Secretary who will make the final selection.

How to Apply

Proposals for HHS Ignite support were accepted from March 3 through March 31st. Many thanks for all who submitted their proposal! Please stay tuned for updates. We are currently in the review stage of our process. Our target date for notifying  the top teams is April 15th.

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In addition to paying attention to the evaluation criteria above, here are some things to consider when submitting your proposal:

  • Ventures supports “Phase II” efforts of proven projects. How are you defining “Phase II”? What was “Phase I” of your effort?
  • What’s the problem you’re trying to solve?
  • Why is Ventures support needed?
  • What will you be using the funds for? You may request “up to” the maximum of $50,000. Please justify the requested amount by providing details on how the funds will be used. See Guidance on the Use of Funds for more information on how the funding works.
  • Are there any additional resources that would supplement the Ventures resources?


Now Accepting Your Funding Proposals

We will be receiving proposals for from February 18 through March 28th for the Ventures class that runs from June 2014 through March 2015. In addition there are a few opportunities to learn more about Ventures. Key dates related to this initiative are below:


More Information


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