All HHS employees are eligible for HHS Ventures Funds.
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.
Each project being proposed must have an Executive Sponsor. This person’s position within the organization should coincide with the desired scope of the proposed project, so it might be a Division Director (if it’s a more targeted project) or an Agency head (if it’s a really big project).
Projects are ultimately selected by a cross-HHS Council of senior individuals from the Agencies applying as well as from individuals at the HHS level.
Step 0 / Submit Your Project Abstract: Teams interested in receiving Ventures Fund submit online some basic information. This is meant to be very simple and easy for the interested parties. Information collected includes:
- Info on the Project Team (Project Lead + Team members)
- Info on the Executive Sponsor
- Project Abstract (500 characters)
Step 1 / Give a Pre-Pitch: All teams that submit a project abstract pitch their idea to IDEA Lab staff. This pitch should contain the following elements:
- The history and the story of your project
- Evidence (quantitative and/or qualitative) supporting your desired next steps
- Your project timeline
- Amount of money being requested with info on what you’re going to do with it (e.g. a simple budget)
- Your desired end goal
- If applicable, a live demo of the product in question
Thee point of this step is for staff provide feedback on the proposal (the business details) as well as on the presentation itself. The IDEA Lab staff will also determine if any shouldn’t go forward to the next stage, though we anticipate most will go forward.
Stage 2 / Pitch Your Project: The teams then pitch to a cross-Departmental Council. Since the Fund supports efforts that have already demonstrated success, these pitches include demonstration of the prototype or tested technology or whatever the equivalent is for the particular project.
Step 3 / Deliberations and Negotiations: The Council deliberates until they reach consensus. They may seek additional advice from experts from across the Department if needed. There’s also an opportunity for back-and-forths with the team regarding the dollar amount, the team make-up, the project goals, and the project timeline.
Proposals submitted into Ventures will be evaluated by a panel of reviewers based on the following criteria:
- Proposed project’s importance to and potential impact on OpDiv and HHS mission [35 points]
- Demonstrability of the evidence/data supporting the proposed steps [25 points]
- The feasibility of the project in terms of timeline, capital resources, personnel and program support. [25 points]
- The novelty and disruptive nature of the innovation concept being tested [15 points]
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 $150,000. Please justify the requested amount by providing details on how the funds will be used. See Guidance on the Use of Funds (under the “more” tab) for more information on how the funding works.
- Are there any additional resources that would supplement the Ventures resources?
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.