America’s Seed Fund is a program created by the National Science Foundation and part of the Division of Innovations and Partnerships. The National Science Foundation is a federal agency which was created with the goal of supporting research and development in all areas of science and engineering.
America’s Seed Fund is dedicated to small businesses and startups with high-risk and high impact enterprises. Each year, the program offers around $200 million to entrepreneurs from USA who are trying to commercialize ideas which are technically challenging. Businesses which benefit from this grant will maintain their independence in terms of vision, employees and business strategy. They will also have full rights on the intellectual property of their work and products. The program means that, beside the financial support, the business awarded will work with a program director, who will play the role of mentor and advocate.
The grant consists in a funding of up to $225000 for research and development for a period of 6 to 12 months. This is the first phase of the program, in which awardees will benefit from mentor ship and support from innovators and entrepreneurs with successful experience in technology. After this period, businesses can apply for the second phase of the program, which involves a funding of up to $750 000 for a period of two years. During these two years, the businesses can apply for supplementary sums for up to $500 000. Another advantage of this program is the feedback that all applications will receive, even the ones which will not be selected for the reward. This way, all applicants will receive valuable feedback and ideas for further development. All the financial support is non refundable and the grant can be used to pay the employees’ salaries, to buy materials or supplies and to cover other research and development costs. Business development costs, marketing and intellectual property are not covered by the grant.
In the first phase of the grant, businesses will focus on research and development. They will have to study their product feasibility, to create and verify prototypes, determine and deal with legal issues relevant to their product or service, create a plan for scaling and marketing of the product.
In order to be eligible for this grant, your business must comply with the program requirements. One of the most important requirement is the definition of Small Business Concern, which can be found described here. In order to be able to apply for this grant, you do not need to have a track record of commercialization. Newly founded businesses are welcome to apply. The grant will be awarded to initiatives that propose products with high technical risks. So, products which are feasible from a technical point of view are not eligible. You can discover all the details about this program on the official website.