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Translating innovative technologies from the lab to the market and to patients takes time and resources. It is an arduous and complex but necessary journey. INVO (Innovations and New Ventures Offices) and Northwestern University at large support the commercialization of technologies throughout the earlier ideation and proof of concept stages as well as the initial phases of new company formation and will partner with the Kidney Center.

Chicago Accelerators/Incubators

Northwestern membership at three prominent Chicago area accelerators—1871, MATTER and mHub—provide University affiliates and startups access to the energized atmosphere of inspiration, information and innovation of the respective spaces.

  • 1871: Located at the Merchandise Mart, supports Chicago’s digital startup community with space, programming, events, incubators and accelerators.
  • MATTER: Also located at the Merchandise Mart, supports Chicago’s healthcare innovators with space, programming and events.
  • mHub: Located in Chicago’s Tech Triangle, offers space for hardware entrepreneurs and makers, focusing more on the commercialization of electronic and IoT devices.

CBC – Chicago Biomedical Consortium Awards

As a member of the Chicago Biomedical Consortium, a Searle Fund-supported collaboration among Chicago’s preeminent medical institutions, Northwestern teams may apply for funding in pursuit of innovative discoveries aimed at transforming biomedical research and improving human health.

Innovations and New Ventures Office

The Innovations and New Ventures Office (INVO) at Northwestern provides a number of resources for investigators interested in learning how to commercialize their kidney disease therapeutic discoveries. The wide range of resources are described below.

  • The INVO Commercialization Clinic is a consulting service offered to all members of Northwestern who have questions about how to commercialize an idea. Each commercialization clinic typically focuses on a specific sector (e.g., Medical Devices, Sensor-Based Medical Devices, and IT/Software). Participants have the opportunity to receive feedback from a panel of external experts, including lawyers, investors, and experts on FDA regulations, commercialization, and licensing. Attendees are invited to listen to other faculty presentations if a confidentiality agreement is signed.
  • Commercialization seminars are offered periodically on both Evanston and Chicago campuses. Previous topics have included: 
Funding Opportunities for Startups; Early Stage Legal Issues for Startups; Intellectual Property Basics; and Licensing Technology from an Academic Institution.
  • The Entrepreneurs-in-Residence program brings experienced entrepreneurs to the University to advise and assist faculty and students as they explore commercializing their research or launching a startup.
  • Modeled after the NIH’s I-Corps program, and University of Michigan’s FFMI’s initiative, INVOForward aims to accelerate biomedical commercialization—medical devices, therapeutics, and health IT—by supporting entrepreneurs in the customer discovery process. Later this year, the first INVOForward cohort, a group focused on medical devices, will begin working with subject matter experts on assessing market need, determining prospective customers, overcoming regulatory hurdles, and building a sound financial framework.
  • INVOHub is a Northwestern incubator program established to increase Northwestern’s pipeline of research-based startups. INVOHub’s Stage Zero resources helps early-stage ventures conquer commercialization’s common pain points. Through different components of the program, the University provides subsidies for a portion of startup costs in critical areas such as law and finance, subsidies for use of University Core Facilities, and access to space on campus.
  • NewCures is a Northwestern initiative that focuses on accelerating biomedical research from early discovery stages to more advanced clinical stages or commercialization for the benefit of the patients.
  • New Business Development and Commercialization: This Kellogg course offers students an opportunity develop a new business from concept to potential commercialization based on INVO-selected Northwestern technologies.
  • SBIR/STTR Consultation: INVO offers teams who are commercializing Northwestern technologies, access to one free hour of SBIR/STTR consultation. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) offer non-dilutive funding in the form of contracts or grants. Consultants help with better understanding the application process and answering any questions regarding the Phase I or II applications for most US agencies. They are not grant writers.

The Garage

The Garage is Northwestern’s hub for student entrepreneurship and innovation, bringing together a cross-disciplinary community of students, faculty, staff and alumni who all share a passion for building new ideas. The 11,000 square foot space is currently home to approximately 60 student-founded startups per academic quarter and offers conference rooms, a prototyping lab, an AV/VR lab, office hours and events open to the Northwestern community.


NUseeds is Northwestern’s $4M pre-seed/seed investment fund. The funding comes from philanthropic donations to Northwestern, and is intended to accelerate the successful launch of innovations from NU students and finance the most promising early-stage student ventures. We look for teams who have an outsized vision and would benefit materially from incremental financial support. NUseeds writes checks in the $10,000-$100,000 range in exchange for equity.


NUvention is offered through McCormick’s Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. It is their flagship interdisciplinary course drawing students from Northwestern’s various schools. The program is designed to expose students to the entire innovation and entrepreneurial life cycle and help them understand how innovations can become a viable business in the real world.


The N.XT Fund is Northwestern’s $10M fund designed to foster and support Northwestern’s early stage innovations. N.XT’s purpose is to provide proof of concept resources for product validation, prototyping, and market identification, with the goal of de-risking Northwestern’s assets and propelling them to the next stage of commercial development. N.XT is a self-sustaining fund and seeks opportunities that have high potential to impact society through translational innovation and research.

The Practicum

The INVO Practicum is an unpaid internship program open to all Northwestern students and post-docs who are interested in learning more about the technology transfer process as well as being exposed to the vast areas of innovation at Northwestern. Interns gain hands-on experience in evaluating Northwestern technologies for patentability, marketability and commercialization readiness.

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