Accelerator Award

Updated: February 9, 2021

In spring 2018, the CBC has launched a new Accelerator Award program to support translational research and provide university researchers with “early commercial guidance.” Accelerator Awards intend to support the initial, and therefore highest risk, stage of commercially-directed research focused on the development of a therapeutic or an associated biomarker or diagnostic. The program encourages interactions between academic researchers and industry/pharmaceutical experts early in the development of projects and provides advice to award recipients in setting and progressing toward commercialization milestones. Award recipients will be mentored by faculty, industry experts, tech transfer officers and CBC personnel. Accelerator awardees will provide project updates at CBCAN meetings.

Letters of Intent (LOIs) to submit translational research projects will be required for initial evaluation by a team of reviewers (Accelerator Review Board, ARB) that will include university faculty with scientific, translational and entrepreneurial expertise, tech transfer officers and industry scientists. Selected LOIs will be presented at a CBCAN meeting and finalists will be invited to submit full proposals, which must discuss commercial potential, milestones and deliverables and incorporate the ARB feedback from the CBCAN. Accelerator Awards will be for $100,000 for one year.

Awarded projects that have met proposed milestones during the first year may be invited to apply for $150,000 for one additional year.


  • Applicants must be tenured or tenure-track faculty with research programs at Northwestern University, The University of Chicago, and/or University of Illinois at Chicago. Faculty with full time appointments on the clinical track at each of the institutions are also eligible to apply. Applicants must have their own designated laboratory space. Individuals who carry faculty appointments with parenthetical rank, are not eligible for tenure, and do not have their own laboratory space are not eligible to apply.
  • Although collaborative proposals are encouraged there is no specific requirement for cross-institutional collaboration.
  • Applicants may have created a company to pursue translation of their innovation, but there is no expectation or requirement for so doing. The CBC encourages applications prior to or without company formation.
  • Multiple applications can be submitted from each institution.
  • There is no expectation that Accelerator Awards will be distributed evenly among the CBC institutions.
  • Proposals should show both innovation and scientific merit.
  • The project should be focused on the development of a therapeutic or associated diagnostic or biomarker, built around a compelling hypothesis and focus on gathering data that advances the hypothesis and discharges key translational risks.
  • Research teams should not already be funded for the same (or closely related) specific aims and/or milestones.
  • Research projects described in Accelerator applications cannot be under review at other funding institutions/agencies to support the same (or closely related) specific aims and/or milestones.
  • A PI may participate in only one application per round.
  • Ongoing and active participation in the CBCAN program is a requirement for Accelerator Award recipients.

Key dates for the 2021 Accelerator Award program application rounds:
Application Round LOI Submission Deadline LOI Presentations at CBCAN Application Submission Deadline Funding Decisions Anticipated Start Date
Round 5
(Spring 2021)
March 5, 2021 Part I: May 6, 2021
Part II: May 20, 2021
June 25, 2021 August 18, 2021 October 1, 2021

▸ Accelerator Award RFA
▸ Funded Accelerator Awards