TE 498 | Illinois Deep Tech Accelerator

Apply now for Fall 2021!

Course Overview

Want to develop a viable and feasible business model that leverages your technology? Commercialize your innovations with this academic-based startup accelerator!

This academic-based startup accelerator will mentor teams in the process of deep tech commercialization. Projects will typically originate from university- or government-funded research but can come from viable deep tech anywhere within the academic ecosystem.

This program will explore principles of building a valid business model including customer discovery, building a team, lean startups, minimum viable product, competition, intellectual property, revenue models, operations, business risks and analogues, market research, raising capital, and marketing.

Coaching will be provided by entrepreneurs and academics with experience in founding and funding successful technology companies.

Funding will be made available for customer discovery and minimum viable product development. As part of the program, team members will get access to a plethora of entrepreneurship ecosystem resources on campus such as innovation spaces, research labs, and maker spaces.

After the conclusion of the semester, an extracurricular event will be offered, where teams will have an opportunity to earn additional funding. The expectation is that by the completion of the accelerator, teams will be prepared to successfully acquire SBIR/STTR grants or institutional investment.


Projects will typically originate from university- or government-funded research but can come from viable deep tech anywhere within the academic ecosystem. We define deep tech as technologies based on discoveries and fundamental science and engineering.

Students who are interested in this program are required to form teams and submit applications for acceptance to the program. Teams and projects will be selected based upon the highest potential of successfully starting an enterprise.

This course is open to all students on campus, pending approval of the application. Teams may include internal or external members as long as there is at least one University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign student team member enrolled in the course. All team members are encouraged to take part in group activities and assessments.

Application Components


Teams are required to submit an application and participate in an interview. Teams selected from this process will be eligible to register for the class.

  • Application | Students will be required to complete the online application summarizing their technology and potential market applications.
  • Summary | As part of the application, students must submit a 5-page summary outlining their research, business, or idea along with a summary of work completed to date (i.e. grants, prototypes, patents, customers, etc.), along with key team members and advisors. Click here for more detailed instructions.
  • Pitch Video | As part of the application, students must submit a one-minute elevator pitch video articulating the following: What problem are you solving? What is your solution? What evidence do you have that the problem is real or substantial? Why are you the team to solve this problem? How will this program enable you to reach your goals? (Upload the video to YouTube--it can remain unlisted--and submit the URL in the application).
  • Team Member Resumes | As part of the application, students must submit team member resumes (combined into one document).


If you have questions about the program or the application, please contact John Thode at jthode@illinois.edu.

Full Rules & Guidelines

TE 498 Rules & Guidelines - This document explains in detail the eligibility and selection process for TE 498, as well as rules and guidelines for the optional extra-curricular competition. The final page is the "2021-2022 Competition Waiver & Rules Acknowledgement" which should be submitted after acceptance into the program. The instructor will give more information about the deadline for signing and submitting this form.