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; and
  • 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; and
  • Regular reporting and check-ins.

Please note:

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

Purpose of HHS Ventures

HHS Ventures was developed in 2013 as a means of allowing teams to further scale a project from the prototype stage into a pilot environment.

History of HHS Ventures

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.

Eligible Participants

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.

Eligible Projects

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.

Reviewing Criteria and Selection Process

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 $50,000. 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.

How to Apply

We are not accepting applications at this time. But stay up-to-date on when we are accepting applications by

Application Period

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Contact Information

Read [dot] Holman @ hhs [dot] gov
HHS Ventures Yammer Group (Available only to HHS employees)

Guidance on Use of Funds

HHS Ventures is managed by the HHS IDEA Lab within the Office of the Deputy Secretary and managed by the HHS Chief Technology Officer. HHS Ventures currently has $100,000 to obligate in FY2014 towards innovation activities within the Department and as determined by the Secretary. In addition to these funds, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has committed an additional $50,000 to support projects through the HHS Ventures mechanism.

HHS Ventures teams are able to request up to $50,000 to go towards implementing their project. Applicants are asked to submit an “Essay / Proposal” not to exceed 10,000 characters. Among the information included in this Essay should be a reiteration of the requested dollar amount and a justification for this requested dollar amount. The justification should delineate specific tools and/or services and their costs. Teams that make it into the second stage of the Ventures selection process may be asked to provide a line-itemed budget. Funds will not be delegated until a sufficient budget is presented. Funds are transferred from OS GDM to the OpDivs via an Intradepartmental Delegation of Authority (IDDA).

HHS Ventures funds cannot go towards FTE salary. HHS Ventures funds may be used for procurement of tools, technologies, and services through procurement and contracting vehicles available to the office awarded.

Selected teams are able to obligate funds through any mechanism available to them through their normal business practices. HHS Ventures funds do not allow for exceptions, exemptions, or any other means of operating outside of standard parameters.