Dramatically increase the chances of commercializing your technology by being mentored by some of the most successful COE alumni during your 12 months as a Faculty Entrepreneurial Fellow (FEF).

Faculty Entrepreneurial Fellows

Meet the Class of Faculty Entrepreneurial Fellows for 2016-17

Jean Paul Allain, Associate Professor, Nuclear, Plasma & Radiological Engineering

Allain and his team will explore bioactive interfaces with atomic-scale additive plasma nanomanufacturing.  Their goal is to disrupt the biosurface and biointerface technology space by introducing a plasma source that enables a synthesis approach that is clean, cheap, versatile and scalable. This technology could dramatically improve the safety and performance of knee and hip implants, among other procedures. Target customers are large/mid-size biotech companies and outsourced orthopedic manufacturers. The team will also work on market study of the biomedical implant space including: dental implants, orthopedic/prosthetic and spinal cord injury implants.

P. Scott Carney, Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Carney and his team provide quantitative phase imaging for confocal microscopy (CM). CM is a means to acquire ultrahigh-resolution images while rejecting stray light and other sources of noise and image artifacts. It’s used in biology to study subcellular structure and in precision manufacturing to perform nanometer-scale inspections. They will explore commercialization by developing a universal system extension, demonstrate that with systems on campus, and take their product to the major OEM manufacturers for feedback or to build relationships.

Scott White, Professor, Aerospace Engineering

White and his team are tackling the safety and longevity problems of batteries by creating self-healing batteries. Self-healing batteries will be an enabling technology for electrification of the transportation sector by having autonomous shutdown and fire prevention. Longer battery lifetimes will change the economic model for EVs and open new markets. They will explore cost and benefit analysis, market analysis, and demonstration of battery safety efficacy. Lifetime extension battery prototypes will be created and market analysis for self-healing batteries will be explored

If you are an undergraduate or graduate student that would like to get course credit for working in a pre-startup environment with College of Engineering Faculty who have potentially commercializable technologies, see the list of projects below that are currently looking for students. For more information or to register for the course, please contact the person indicated for that section.






TE 401 Section D: Developing Breakthrough Projects with Professor J.P. Allain

Innovating bioactive interfaces with atomic-scale additive plasma nano-manufacturing

  • Explore relevant markets for the technology and develop strategies for market entry
  • Define key product featuers that are highly desirable for customers
  • Work in an advanced innovaiton ecosystem with multi-disciplinary teams
  • Partner with students from University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  • Engage in advanced nano-fabricationt echnology and test its commercial potential
  • Develop leadership and entrepreneurial skills in a challenging reserach environment
  • Learn new customer discovery and market study methodologies
  • Register for 2-4 credit hours at either undergraduate or graduate level

Contact Terry Cole for more information at






TE 401 Section B: Developing Breakthrough Projects with Professor Scott Carney

Synthetic Optical Holography: A New Technology for Phase Imaging in Confocal Microscopy

  • Designing, building & testing an economy stage SOH in a confocal microscope
  • Designing, building & testing a trasflection mode module for live cell imaging
  • Connecting technologies with users on and off campus
  • Implementing SOH software routines in commercial microscope software package
  • Developing a business plan for these technologies and proposal writing
  • Register for 1-4 credit hours at either undergraduate or graduate level

Contact Prof. Carney for more information at!





TE 401 Section C: Developing Breakthrough Projects with Professor Scott White

Self-Healing Batteries

  • Learn about new technology developed at the University of Illinois that will enable safer and longer-lasting Li-ion batteries for cars and airplanes of the future
  • Be part of an entrepreneurial endeavor to bring this research to the commerical market
  • Learn the underlying technology as well as how to analyze the marketing, develop a business plan and the principle players in the battery industry
  • Be part of making cutting edge research impact society and technology
  • Register for 1-4 credit hours at either undergraduate or graduate level

Contact Prof. White for more information at!

Dramatically increase the chances of commercializing your technology by being mentored by some of the most successful alumni from the College of Engineering during your 12 months as a Faculty Entrepreneurial Fellow (FEF)

How do I apply?

Applications are currently closed—check back in the spring!

The College of Engineering has launched a unique program giving faculty entrepreneurs access to:

  • Alumni Board of Directors and their networks for direction and advice
  • Dedicated space for project and teams
  • Release from teaching and committee responsibilities
  • Ability for students to participate and get credit
  • $50K proof-of-concept funds

The FEF program seeks to combine the wealth of experience of our successful alumni with our most innovative faculty to create a unique environment for faculty and student entrepreneurship and truly redefine the role of the modern research university in the innovation and technology commercialization landscape in America.  In the FEF program, faculty members with promising technologies will focus their efforts on proving out the viability of their innovations entirely within the university ecosystem; with $50k, release from teaching and other obligations, an alumni advisory board and a group of selected students, the team will determine the commercial potential of the technology in a 12 month period, while creating a truly unique opportunity for students to participate, and earn credit for their part in the process. This is a new model, a first of its kind, and is Engineering at Illinois’ opportunity to set the National Agenda in innovation, leadership and engineering entrepreneurship.


Mani Golparvar-Fard, Assistant Professor
Civil and Environmental Engineering

Golparvar-Fard’s team builds “flying superintendents.” These aerial robots transport recording equipment around construction sites. Using a first-of-its-kind, model-driven computer vision system, they can monitor construction progress and worker activities, alerting project managers to potential delays or other problems on the site.

John Rogers, Professor & Swanlund Chair 
Materials Science and Engineering 

Rogers’ team designs and manufactures prototype near-field communications devices that are small and flexible enough to mount on a person’s fingernail, earlobe, or tooth. They imagine these tiny devices could be used to send unique passwords and authentication information to electronic devices—Apple Pay from your body, instead of your iPhone 6.

Jianjun Cheng, Associate Professor & Willett Faculty Scholar
Materials Science and Engineering 

Cheng and his team will explore the potential market for a new type of 3D printing material known as a malleable polyurea thermoset. A polyurea thermoset is tough enough to build with but, unlike contemporary materials, can be reprocessed and reused. It would be the first thermoset on the market for extrusion deposition 3D printing.

Xiuling Li, Associate Professor
Electrical and Computer Engineering

WIth about a half doze patents issued or filed on the subject, Li and her team will reifne their nanotech "self-rolled-up membranes" to create electrical inductors, transformers and other componsnets. These components will be 10-100 times smaller and cheaper than current technology and could be used in healthcare, wearable computers and security.


How does the program work?

The FEF Board of Directors consists of the Trustees who are alumni supporting the FEF program along with representatives from the Innovation Leadership and Engineering Entrepreneurship (ILEE) program at the University responsible for setting the direction of the FEF program.

Once FEFs are selected they will be paired with members of the FEF Board of Directors and other industry advisors.  They will act as advisors for the team and have quarterly board meetings.  The advisors will introduce the FEFs to their networks, potential investors, customers and assist them as they explore commercializing their innovations over the 12 months as a Faculty Entrepreneurial Fellow.  There will be an in-person meeting at the end of the 12 months.

Fellows will also receive Proof of Concept (POC) funds, for more details of how the POC portion of the FEF program works click here

How often would I get to meet with the advisors?

Teams will be scheduled to have quarterly meetings with their advisors and one in person meeting during the 12 months as a faculty entrepreneurial fellow.   Teams can arrange separate calls if needed with their advisors based upon their availability.

What are the benefits of being a Faculty Entrepreneurial Fellow?

There are many programs that offer Proof of Concept Funds. Becoming a Faculty Entrepreneurial Fellow offers much more. In addition to dedicated space for your students and project, the Fellows will also be given at least a full year buyout from their class room teaching and other university obligations. This embedded entrepreneurship becomes part of their day-to-day role as a faculty member at the University of Illinois.

In addition, Fellows get to work closely with some of the University’s top entrepreneurial alumni, with deep industry experience in bringing products to market. These entrepreneurs will work with Fellows to validate their innovation, find product-market fit, and ensure that they’re working in a direction that the market cares about. They will also connect Fellows with their networks. In short, the chances of entrepreneurial success dramatically improves by being selected as a Faculty Entrepreneurial Fellow.

How do I apply?

  1. Submit a pre-proposal consistening of a letter of intent and an application form to (Note: the application form contains more details about the letter of intent)
  2. Letters of intent are due by May 27, 2016.
  3. Pre-proposals will be evaluated based on the project’s ability to successfully prepare the technology for commercialization within the scope of the proposed studies and within the requested budget and time frame. Pre-proposals will also be reviewed to determine whether the project meets eligibility criteria (see the program guide).
  4. If invited to proceed, faculty will then submit a full proposal and may be invited to present to an external review committee. A full proposal consists of a pre-formatted 6-slide powerpoint template and a budget proposal.
  5. More information can be found in the program guide and the FAQs. For more information or questions please contact Jed Taylor at


How does the Faculty Entrepreneurial Fellows Program differ from the Illinois Proof of Concept (IPOC) Program?

The Faculty Entrepreneurial Fellows program is an initiative launched at Illinois and is supported by some of most successful entrepreneurial alumni from the College of Engineering at Illinois.  While other universities may offer funding for developing a proof of concept, the Faculty Entrepreneurial Fellows program takes embedded entrepreneurship to a new level at the University of Illinois. Entrepreneurial Fellows will be selected annually for the program and, in addition to receiving funding for their proof-of-concept activity, they will be given release from teaching and other other obligations, access to additional space for their activities, and other services at the university. This is truly a unique opportunity in which the university recognizes, and celebrates the role of faculty as innovators, and entrepreneurs, who are central to the future of our college, our university, and our economy. The Faculty Entrepreneurial Fellows program will leverage the established I-POC infrastructure to manage the proof of concept grants that are part of the program. College of Engineering faculty are only eligible for these proof of concept funds through the FEF program. There is no separate I-POC program outside of the FEF program for College of Engineering Faculty.

Who is eligible to apply for the Faculty Entrepreneurial Fellows Program (FEF)?
The Faculty Entrepreneurial Fellows program is open to faculty in the College of Engineering.  Additional requirements outlined in the Illinois Proof of Concept program also apply, and are described at the following link:
Who owns any IP generated by the Professor, or teams, during the FEF Program?
This is a program based at the University, using University funds; any IP generated through this program will be treated the in the same manner as any other IP generated at the University with University funds.
Can I apply for the FEF program with a project that is non-University owned technologies?
The intent of the FEF program is that the project you are proposing has been funded through research grants, contracts, or other University funds. It is not required that you have filed a disclosure with the Office of Technology Management (OTM), or have filed for a patent, before you have applied for the FEF. If you have not disclosed, or informed, the OTM of your technology before submitting your Letter of Intent you can do so when you submit your application by answering a few simple questions.
What role do students play in the FEF program?
It is anticipated that students will play a key role in the FEF program and this is a key criteria of the selection process. In the first year of the program, Faculty Fellows recruited over 25 students to participate in their teams, each semester. As part of the application process, a few questions will ask applicants to describe how they plan to involve students. A new COE course called, TE/ENG 401: Developing Breakthrough Projects, has been created and FEFs each become the instructor of record for a section, in which students who are involved in the FEF project and working with the FEF will follow the same process as those enrolled in independent research projects to receive academic credit for their work.
If I have started a company, is it too late to apply?
No, however FEF funds cannot be used for commercial purposes. The funds are treated like other research funds at the University and are to be used in the process of furthering the research and development, which in this case involves exploring the feasibility and commercialization potential of an innovation based on your research. More details about use of funds can be found here. At the start of the program you will need to make sure the appropriate paperwork regarding conflicts of commitment and interest have been filed with your department and, if appropriate, with the OVCR.
If my technology has already been licensed to a company, am I too far along in the process to apply?
The answer to this depends on the specific details of the license arrangements and the entities involved. If the technology has already been exclusively licensed to a third party, and there is no additional commercialization potential of the technology, this it is unlikely that a FEF could pursue this technology in this program. If the technology has already been licensed to the FEF applicant in a new venture, then it may not be too late, and again would depend on the status of this new venture.
Are Emeritus Faculty eligible to apply?
Any COE faculty who are eligible to pursue research and hold grants at the university are eligible to apply.
Can I apply while on sabbatical?
Yes, anyone can apply, even if currently on sabbatical leave. Faculty Entrepreneurial Fellows are intended to be pursuing their exploration on our campus, and not be on sabbatical leave at another location or institution. A faculty member who is sabbatical leave may remain on campus, and as such, an FEF working on the project with their students at the University would be eligible. If you intend to spend your sabbatical leave away from the University, then you would be ineligible for the FEF program.
I have two technologies/innovations that I’m working on and I am not sure which one to submit. Which one has a better chance of getting funded?
There are several factors that go into the review process, one of these being the commercial potential of the technology.

Read more about the Faculty Fellows in the news:

  • 8/30/16 Read more about the announcement of the second class of Faculty Entrepreneurial Fellows
  • 5/6/16   For Thode and Rogers, FEF program paying early dividends
  • 3/4/16   Professor Golparvar receives innovaton award from Turner Construction
  • 2/26/16 The Faculty Entrepreneurial Fellows program receives national coverage in Tech Transfer Central
  • 7/15/15 Read more about the announcement of the first Faculty Entrepreneurial Fellows
  • 2/24/15 Read about the launch of the Faculty Fellows program today

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors consists of the Trustees who are alumni supporting the FEF program along with representatives from the Technology Entrepreneur Center (TEC) at the University responsible for setting the direction of the FEF program.

Sanjay Srivastava
Sanjay Srivastava
 Sanjay Srivastava

Srivastava co-founded Denali Software, a bootstrapped venture, which was acquired by Cadence Design Systems in 2010. He has invested in several startups in storage, education, and consumer internet sectors. He is currently chairman and CEO of Vocareum, an education technology startup, aimed at building a cloud platform used by teachers to manage large computer science classes.

John Thode
John Thode
John Thode

Thode is president of DigitalOptics Corporation (DOC). Prior to joining the company, John was an executive vice president and general manager of McAfee’s Consumer, Mobile and Small Business unit. Before that, he was VP and general manager of Dell’s Mobility Products Group. Previous to that, he was CEO and President of ISCO International Inc. John has also held a variety of executive positions with Motorola, Inc.

Andrew Yang
Andrew Yang
 Andrew Yang

Yang co-founded Apache Design Solutions in 2001 and until recently served as the CEO since its inception. The company was ranked as one of the top 15 fastest growing software/IT companies in the Silicon Valley in 2008, and one of the 500 fastest growing technology companies in North America in 2009 by Deloitte’s Fast 50 and 500 programs.  He is now also a successful investor and advises startup companies.


Andreas Cangellaris
Andreas Cangellaris
 Andreas Cangellaris

Cangellaris is Dean of the College of Engineering at Illinois and the M. E. Van Valkenburg Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is an expert in applied and computational electromagnetics, a Fellow of IEEE, and co-founder of Illinois’ incubator for innovative engineering curriculum, called iFoundry. His research has produced several design methods and computer tools that are used widely in the microelectronics industry.

Andrew Singer
Andrew Singer
 Andrew Singer 

Singer is a Fox Family Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Director of the Technology Entrepreneur Center (TEC).  He is the cofounder of OceanComm, a new startup developing wireless underwater acoustic communication technology.  He also co-founded Intersymbol Communications, a developer of chips for ultra-high speed optical communication systems acquired by Finisar Corporation

Jed Taylor
Jed Taylor
 Jed Taylor

Taylor is the Director of Operations of the Technology Entrepreneur Center.  He helped start Pattern Insight, a software-based startup out of the CS Department acquired by VMware in 2012.  He also works with startup companies as an entrepreneur-in-residence at EnterpriseWorks, the University of Illinois incubator.  He also sits on the board of several local high tech startups.




Technology Entrepreneur Center

The Grainger College of Engineering

351 Coordinated Science Lab, MC-228
1308 W. Main Street
Urbana, IL 61801

We're here to help! Contact Tara Flesner, TEC Office Manager, at the phone number or email above, and you'll get a quick response during normal business hours.

Social Media

Get Social With Us!