Rocket Innovations

Student Venture Investment Program

Student VIP

The Rocket Innovations Student Venture Investment Program provides initial investments to help UT student technology entrepreneurs launch business ventures. Companies will be mentored and will have opportunities to seek support from the NextTech Entrepreneurial Services Program, I-Corps, SBIRs, and angel/venture investment. 


Funding Available

The maximum amount of award from Rocket Innovations from this program is $20,000. Up to $3,750 per team member (limit 2) can support salary for the student entrepreneur(s) involved in the venture. Funds are to advance the business concept as described in an approved budget. Legitimate expenses must be justified in the budget and can include the purchase of software/data, travel, materials/supplies, equipment.

Rocket Innovations may assist in seeking or recommending funding from others outside the University to support the concept.


  • Eligible Students:  All current UT undergraduate and graduate students are eligible for the award as are UT graduates within the first year of their graduation date. All Applicants must complete an "Eligibility Requirement Statement".
  • Eligible Business:  Students may submit an application for support, but awards will not be distributed until an Ohio business with 50% student ownership has been established. Assistance in establishing the business may be provided by Rocket Innovations, Business Incubator or NextTech.
  • Eligible Business Areas:  The program is to support technology entrepreneurship. Projects that are focused only on research will not qualify. The availability of intellectual property protection is encouraged but not required. Technologies in physical, medical, and engineering sciences, mathematics, computer science, information technology, and selected areas in education and business are eligible. A complete list of eligibility requirements is available from Rocket Innovations, and questions should be directed to the Executive Director of Rocket Innovations.

Application Criteria

Applications are accepted at any time. All applicants must successfully complete a “Customer Discovery” program, conducted quarterly by Rocket Innovations. Applicants must also deliver satisfactory replies to questions found in the “Initial Submission Criteria”, and to other questions as they arise. Once Rocket Innovations indicates that the applicant’s submission is complete, it will perform a due diligence review and submit a funding recommendation to the Board of Directors of Rocket Innovations. The Rocket Innovations Board of Directors may ask for a presentation on the venture prior to an award of funds

Awards & Requirements

  • Rocket Innovations Interest:  Rocket Innovations will obtain a financial interest in the company. A formal agreement will be made between Rocket Innovations and the company. Investment funds from others can also support the company.
  • Required Mentorship:  Award Recipients are required to participate in mentoring and other programs sponsored by Rocket Innovations, Business Incubator, and NextTech. The award notification will include a plan for participating in events/activities tailored to the specific needs of the venture.
  • Closure of Project:  Upon completion of the award, the recipient is to submit a report to Rocket Innovations on both the expenditure of funds and progress in advancing the business including information on follow-on investment and a business exit strategy. An annual reporting obligation will extend for three years after the closure of the project.

For more information and details contact:
Norman Rapino, PhD, MBA
Executive Director
Office: 419.530.6165


Last Updated: 6/27/22