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Operating since 2014, the internationally recognized West Virginia University (“WVU”) LaunchLab Network serves as comprehensive, one-stop innovation and commercialization centers. Located in Morgantown and Beckley, the LaunchLab Network consists of applied innovation centers providing WVU students with a collaborative working environment to create their new ideas.The LaunchLab Network offers hands-on idea development support, education, mentorship, prototyping facilities, resources and connections to help advance innovative entrepreneurs. Learn more about our Applied Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship (IDEA Hub) ecosystem.

Where it Begins: An Idea/Problem

Almost all great innovations start with an idea or problem. Innovations are often created without any intended use case. Where can it be used? To whom do we believe great value can be delivered? These are all things to consider at the start of the innovation process. 

How to Start: Become a Client

The first step in receiving LaunchLab service is by filling out an intake form and becoming a LaunchLab client. Click the link below, and you will be prompted to enter your email address* and password.  You will then be redirected to the West Virginia University-branded CAS (Central Authentication Service) page, which will prompt you for your Login Username and Password.  If this is your first time logging into a SharePoint site, you may be directed to a generic landing page.  
In that case, click this link again after you’ve completed the login process.

Notice to Students: Although WVU student email addresses end in @mix.wvu.edu, students should use  @mail.wvu.edu here. This is a special username used for Office 365, and is  not an email address that can be used elsewhere.  Example: If your Login username is glweinrib, enter the address as follows: glweinrib@mail.wvu.edu.   Click here for more information.

How We Help: The Roadmap

At the LaunchLab we can offer our clients guidance throughout the entire innovation process. From ideation to commercialization we can provide advice, coaching, and resources. A detailed description of our roadmap processes can be viewed in our white pages.

We can help with the entire LaunchLab roadmap.

Other Resources:

Funding

There are a variety of different options for funding a startup at the WVU LaunchLab. These include Pitch competition proceeds, LaunchLab seed funding, Grant funding and private funding through angel investment.

The WVU LaunchLab hosts several opportunities for innovators to pitch their ideas for startup funds.   We always recommend starting with a pitch competition for several reasons; to gain funds, to gain feedback to support your business theses, to gain customer opinion and to gain expert advice from pitch judges. The funds are small startup grants geared towards continued product development.  WVU LaunchLab also provides information about and transportation to many National Pitch Competitions where students can gain valuable networking connections and investment opportunities. 

The LaunchLab Seed Fund is an application-based grant fund designed to support product innovations that have been mostly formed and the owners are prepared to work full time on the product or company. Seed funding is appropriate for companies that are pre-revenue and need the funds to complete product development and build their team in preparation for launch.

The SBIR/STTR are programs of the U.S. Government to provide R & D funding for small businesses. These programs do not fund basic research, but rather fund application research with hopes of developing a commercially viable product for the small business. The SBIR program refers to itself as America’s Seed Fund. SBIR funding is often used by University research spinouts. SBIR grants are made directly to the spinout company and not to WVU. Phase 1 grants are up to $150,000 and Phase 2 grants are up to $1million.

Each government agency issues their own solicitation, and each have their own rules and deadlines for proposal submission. Eleven agencies participate. (USDA; NSF; NIST; NOAA; DOD; DoEd; DOE; EPA; DHS; NASA; NIH; DOT). Generally, NIH proposals are due in January, April and September and NSF proposals are due in June and December. Note this schedule can change, make sure to check with the specific agency.

WVU offers support to companies considering an SBIR grant proposal. 

VentureWell is a nonprofit based in Amherst, MA. VentureWell is supported by the Lemelson Foundation and provides training and funding for student entrepreneurs. The VentureWell E-team grant program provides up to $25,000 to student teams. VentureWell hosts various training programs including ASPIRE. 

Intellectual Property

The LaunchLab workers closely with student clients to help register their IP. The LaunchLab takes no ownership or interest in student intellectual properties.

Company Formation

Forming a company is an important milestone in the process of applied innovation.  When a team is ready to form a legal entity with the state of West Virginia, they can do so at the Secretary of State office at www.wvsos.gov. The cost of forming an LLC is $100. The cost of registering a business name is $15. The LaunchLab can help you with every step of this process.

Idea Hub Network

LaunchLab is proud to have a robust contact network across WVU's campus. Please view these other helpful links: 

The LaunchLab is apart of the WVU IDEA Ecosystem, a university-wide network of centers, offices and programs that fosters and supports innovation and entrepreneurship among WVU students, faculty and staff while engaging the statewide community. A visual map of the full ecosystem and detailed information about the resources included can be found here.