Call for Proposals Overview 

Two pilot projects will be chosen for funding, with each researcher receiving $15,000.

The goal of ASCEND2.0 is to bridge the gap between NIH-funded research and improved patient outcomes by increasing the number of medical entrepreneurs and their level of competency. In this vein, ASCEND2.0 aims to provide the knowledge, skills, and training necessary for innovators to become successful entrepreneurs.

ASCEND2.0 seeks proposals to support the advancement of new biomedical innovations with significant potential to improve quality of life and save lives. The successful proposal will emphasize biomedical innovations that have a straightforward and rapid path to commercialization. 

Criteria for Consideration

  • The applicant is associated with one of the eleven ASCEND2.0 partner institutions (refer to for a list of our partner institutions).
  • The biomedical innovation proposed can become a product that has the potential to improve the quality of life or saves lives.
  • The biomedical innovation has been disclosed to the Technology Transfer Office (TTO) at the applicant’s institution.
  • Working with their TTO, the applicant has developed an intellectual property and technology protection strategy.

Expectations and Requirements of Awardees

  • Projects selected for funding will be required to provide milestones and progress metrics to ensure the project's steady progress. These updates will be provided via a 30-minute zoom call every three weeks during the funding period.
  • Awardees are required to view the educational material provided by NMSUF.
  • Heavily consider the end goal of submitting an SBIR or STTR following the completion of research funding.
  • A Progress Report meeting will be held approximately six months after the project's start date. Awardees will report their final findings and challenges and receive continued input and advice from the ASCEND2.0 Advisory Committee after the research funding period.

Proposal Considerations

  • Award amounts should not exceed $15,000 in total costs (indirect and direct costs), and a maximum of 2 awards will be awarded.
  • Matching funds are allowed. Matching funds cannot come directly from a Federal Grant or Contract (NIH, NSF, DoD, etc.). The source of matching funds must be noted in the budget justification and a letter of support must be provided from the funding source. Matching funds from the participating institutions is encouraged but not required as part of the submission.
  • The project period should not exceed 6 months.
  • Funds must be applied to specific tasks that advance the innovative technology towards a commercial application and cannot be used for equipment.
  • Funds for researchers, supplies, and research protocol are favorable funding components from the ASCEND2.0 award.
  • Confidential information should not be included in the application.

Grading Criteria

Proposals will be reviewed by the ASCEND2.0 External Advisory Committee (EAC) and ranked based on the following criteria:

  • Scientific Rigor
  • Feasibility
  • Impact
  • Commercial potential
  • How the technology meets SBIR/STTR grant application criteria
  • Clearly articulated timeline and research plan

ASCEND Application Review Timeline

  • April 25th, 2024: Call for Applications
  • May 9th, 2024: The deadline to submit a complete application.
  • May 10th – May 13th, 2024: Application Review
  • May 15th, 2024: Application review complete; awardees will be notified.
  • May 22nd, 2024: The funding selection process is completed; research begins.


Proposal Guidelines 

The full application should include:

Cover Letter (1-page limit)

  1. Application Title
  2. Project summary
  3. Impact statement

Research Strategy (3-page limit)

  1. Significance
    1. Explain the importance of the problem or critical barrier to progress that the proposed project addresses.
    2. Describe the strengths and weaknesses in the rigor of the prior research (both published and unpublished) that serves as the key support for the proposed project.
    3. Explain how the proposed project will improve scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice in one or more broad fields.
  2. Innovation
    1. Explain how the application challenges and seeks to shift current research or clinical practice paradigms.
    2. Describe any novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation or interventions to be developed or used, and any advantage over existing methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions.
    3. Explain any refinements, improvements, or new applications of theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions.
  3. Approach
    1. Describe the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses to accomplish the project's specific aims. Describe plans to address weaknesses in the rigor of prior research that serves as the key support for the proposed project. Describe the experimental design, methods proposed, and how they will achieve robust and unbiased results.
    2. Discuss benchmarks for success, potential problems, and alternative strategies anticipated in achieving the aims.
    3. If the project is in the early stages of development, describe any strategy to establish feasibility and address the management of any high-risk aspects of the proposed work.

Budget/Budget Justification (1-page limit) ($15,000 per researcher)

  1. Name of organization where experiments will occur
  2. Budget Period (6 months)
  3. Total funds needed
  4. Estimated costs and justifications for costs
    1. Include quotes where appropriate
  5. Matching funds (optional) and source

(Please remember when creating your budget that two pilot projects will be chosen for funding, with each researcher receiving $15,000.) 

Key Personnel Biosketches

Letters of Support (No page limit)

  • Provide two letters of support

References (No page limit)

  1. When citing articles that fall under the Public Access Policy, were authored or co-authored by the applicant, and arose from NIH support, provide the NIH Manuscript Submission reference number (e.g., NIHMS97531) or the PubMed Central (PMC) reference number (e.g., PMCID234567) for each article.
  2. Citations not covered by the Public Access Policy but are publicly available in a free, online format may include URLs or PubMed ID (PMID) numbers along with the full reference. The references should be limited to relevant and current literature.


  • Consolidate the application into a single PDF file adhering to the following guidelines:
    • Single spaced
    • ½” margins
    • 11-point arial font

Submit Applications to

For any questions, please email