A competitive award supporting selected Penn student founders who are graduating in 2024 and will be working on their venture full time after graduation.

Application Deadline: 11:59 PM Eastern on Sunday, March 10, 2024.

Event Schedule

Application Timeline

Date Event
Monday, February 12, 2024 Application Opens
Sunday, March 10, 2024, 11:59 PM ET Application Closes
Friday, March 29, 2024 Finalists notified
Friday, April 3, 2024 Finalists interview with Selection Committee
Monday, April 8, 2024 Winners notified
Thursday, April 11 and Friday, April 12, 2024 Winners have in-person follow up meetings on campus
Monday, April 15, 2024 Other applicants notified

Fund Your Startup

Selected recipients receive an award of up to $50,000, to help them achieve their entrepreneurial goals directly following the completion of their University of Pennsylvania degree.
About The Award
The award will be disbursed in tranches, pending the awardee’s ability to meet all requirements for each tranche This is a very competitive award and only 1-2 recipients will be selected this year.

The Draper Bridge Fund Awards are provided by a generous donation from The Draper Foundation at the behest of Tim Draper.

Finalists must be available to interview with the Selection Committee on Friday, April 3, 2024. No alternative dates/times will be offered. Applicants who are enrolled in an academic program based in Philadelphia will be required to meet with the Selection Committee in person. Applicants who are enrolled in an academic program with a home base location outside of Philadelphia may be permitted to interview virtually.

Rules & Requirements

Lead Applicant & Team Members
  • The Lead Applicant must be a currently enrolled student in a degree granting program at the University of Pennsylvania and must complete their degree program and graduate in 2024. The Lead Applicant must be the person under whose SMA account the application is submitted.
    • Note: If Student A is the Lead Applicant, then the application must be submitted under Student A's SurveyMonkey Apply account.
  • The Lead Applicant must have played a significant role in conceiving the venture, hold a key management role in the venture, be actively involved in the venture, and participate in the Selection Committee interview process, if selected as a Finalist.
  • The Lead Applicant must hold a C-Suite position within the venture. This must be reflected in the Founders Agreement.
  • Students on a leave of absence from Penn are not permitted to be a Lead Applicant, although they are permitted to be a Team Member.
  • Teams are permitted to have members who are not currently enrolled students in a degree granting program at the University of Pennsylvania, but the Lead Applicant must actively lead the team and drive the venture development. Non-members of the University community may not use University of Pennsylvania students primarily as a vehicle to apply for The Draper Bridge Fund Award. Venture Lab staff may disqualify a team if it determines in its sole judgment that a Penn student's involvement on a team is being used as a front by others.
  • The venture must be currently participating in or have successfully completed Venture Lab's VIP-X program in either Philadelphia or San Francisco.
  • To be eligible for the first tranche of funding, the winning venture must be an incorporated legal entity before the payment can be disbursed.

    • Note: The full payment process for the first tranche of $25,000, including releasing funds to the venture's bank account, must be completed before June 1, 2024. The Lead Applicants are responsible for ensuring that they have a corporate legal entity in place that can receive the funds. The payment process is multi-step and the first step must be completed by April 15, 2024.
  • If the venture is using technology/IP developed or owned by Penn or another academic institution, the Lead Applicant must have negotiated the rights to use/license the IP by the date the applicant interviews with the selection committee, if they are selected as a Finalist. Finalists must submit signed documentation of their right to use third-party developed IP during the interview.
  • The Lead Applicant of an application selected to receive The Draper Bridge Fund Award must complete all of their degree requirements and receive their degree before they are eligible for the first tranche ($25,000) of funding. If graduating outside of the standard May timeline, the Lead Applicant may need to have a follow-up meeting with a representative designated by Venture Lab before they are eligible for the first tranche of funding.
  • To be eligible for the first tranche of funding ($25,000), the Lead Applicant must commit to working on the venture full-time for at least 6 months after graduation.
  • To be eligible for the 2nd tranche ($25,000) of funding, the Lead Applicant must commit to working on the venture for at least an additional 6 months, as well as having achieved clear milestones and meeting the progress requirements of the award. Progress requirements will include but are not limited to providing a report of accomplishments and milestones achieved to-date, an itemized accounting of how the first tranche of funding was used, and a progress report and goal setting meeting with a representative designated by Venture Lab.
  • If the venture is acquired before the company is approved to receive the 2nd tranche of funding, then the venture will be ineligible to receive the 2nd tranche.
  • If the Lead Applicant leaves the venture or begins receiving a full time salary before approved to receive the 2nd tranche of funding, then the venture will be ineligible to receive the 2nd tranche, unless there is another Class of 2024 degree holding alumnus/alumna of the University of Pennsylvania working full time in a C-suite role at the venture.
  • The award funds are non-dilutive and are considered taxable income by the IRS.
  • The Lead Applicant is responsible for filing all tax paperwork and for paying any and all taxes required as a result of receiving this award.
Original Work
  • All submitted materials must be the original work of the participating applicant(s).
  • By submitting an entry, all applicants warrant that the entry does not infringe any proprietary or other right of others.
Use of SurveyMonkey Apply
  • Venture Lab uses SurveyMonkey Apply as the application platform for all programs and awards. By applying to any of the programs or awards offered by Venture Lab, applicants agree to submit and/or upload data to SurveyMonkey Apply and acknowledge acceptance of SurveyMonkey Apply terms and conditions (https://apply.surveymonkey.com/).

  • Submissions to The Draper Bridge Fund Award will be shared with Venture Lab staff and with the Selection Committee assigned to review the submissions. Submissions and other data collected as part of The Draper Bridge Fund Award also may be shared with faculty and researchers for the purpose of academic research and/or improvement of the award and Venture Lab’s programming. Results from research of this type may be published in the aggregate, and without disclosing personally identifiable information about applicants.
  • Confidentiality agreements/NDAs are not signed as part of The Draper Bridge Fund Award. The final decision about applying to The Draper Bridge Fund Award and about what information will be shared is the responsibility of the Lead Applicant. It is the responsibility of the applicants to keep confidential information confidential and to maintain the confidentiality of their own intellectual property and trade secrets.
  • If selected to receive The Draper Bridge Fund Award, applicants authorize The Wharton School and the University of Pennsylvania to use their names, interviews, and likenesses in all media, including but not limited to video, print and electronic media, in such manner as Penn may deem advisable for the purpose of publicizing the work of Penn and in materials controlled by Penn. Participants acknowledge that they are not entitled to reimbursement for the use of their name, photograph or participation in any and all media developed about and by Penn. (Please note that MBA students have already agreed to this as a condition of their enrollment at Wharton.)

Disqualification of an Application or Applicant
Venture Lab reserves the right to disqualify any participant, team and/or submission for good cause, including but not limited to the following reasons:

  • Violation of the University’s Code of Student Conduct, Code of Academic Integrity or other policy
  • Violation of any local, state or federal law
  • Content that is pornographic in nature
  • The applicant and/or venture was previously awarded The Draper Bridge Fund Award
  • In Venture Lab’s estimation, the submission does not present sufficient content or material appropriate to merit sending to judges for evaluation and feedback
  • The applicant(s) or submission has not complied with applicable rules
  • The applicant(s) or submission does not meet the eligibility requirements of The Draper Bridge Fund Award

Other Agreements or Relationships
The organizers of the The Draper Bridge Fund Award, Venture Lab, The Wharton School, and the University of Pennsylvania take no responsibility for agreements made or relationships that develop between any of the applicants, reviewers, funders, or sponsors. This includes the decision regarding how to distribute any cash awards among team members. The award funds will be paid to the venture's corporate entity per the direction of the Lead Applicant.
University Claims on Student-Developed Property
Students at the University of Pennsylvania who develop new technologies and/or new ventures while enrolled at the University can generally be assured that the University does not have a claim on the intellectual property of the student’s technology or venture unless one of the following applies:

  • The student is employed by the University and the technology or invention is the result of or related to his or her employment;
  • The student has worked under a research grant or other research sponsorship;
  • The invention is made jointly with a faculty member, Penn employee, or other person required to assign their rights to Penn;
  • The student is commercializing a technology or discovery that was made by a faculty member or other University researcher or employee;
  • The student has engaged services of a University department and has agreed otherwise as a condition of receiving such services.

In general, except as noted above, students in degree-granting programs are encouraged to put their efforts into seeking the advice and facilitation of faculty members and other resources at the University with the assurance that such action in itself will not result in an intellectual property claim on their work by the University. Students with questions about IP and University Claims on Student-Developed Property are encouraged to contact the Penn Center for Innovation with questions about Penn technology and intellectual property. Applicants are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the University’s Patent and Tangible Research Property Policies and Procedures.
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