Explore Grants

Explore Grants (previously known as the Brown Venture Launch Fund) serve the Brown community by encouraging student entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into new ventures. It is a collaborative project of the Social Innovation Initiative, the Brown Entrepreneurship Program, and the Office of the Dean of the College.

These grants provide seed money (up to $500) for new, promising ventures at the earliest stages when funding is so difficult to secure from investors. They also offer these ventures the opportunity to apply for three levels of progressively increasing funding using a gated award system. 

Please note: This is not a business plan competition. All that is required of Explore Grant applicants is a clear understanding of a problem or opportunity, a vision or plan for a project or venture to fill this need, and a readiness to take action. 

Click here to see profiles of previous Explore grantees. 

Requirements & Expectations

  • We expect Explore Grantees to have a well thought-out idea. Anticipate follow up questions on the logic of your venture. The Venture Rationale Diagram is a valuable tool to organize your thoughts.
  • We also expect Explore Grantees to have a vision of serving a market beyond Brown University with their venture. Even in the early stages of a venture it is important to think big. Learn more about why in this article.
  • Awards will be granted to individuals or teams. At least one member of the team must be a Brown University undergraduate and a founder of the venture (or comparable leadership role).
  • Award recipients are expected to be active participants in programming and resources that Brown’s entrepreneurship community offers (EP & SII).
  • Each venture needs to create a profile for their project on our website that chronicles the development of their work through each phase.  
  • Specifically, upon receiving the award, the venture should submit a 300-500 word project overview that outlines how the venture will use the funds, the immediate goals for the venture, and how the venture will evaluate its progress in meeting those goals. After award, the venture should submit a 300-500 word personal statement/evaluation report on the learning experiences of the venture's leadership team.

Application Process 

The application for Explore Grants can be found on UFunds. We accept applications and award grants on a rolling basis. 

Explore Grants may be used to:

  • Purchase materials to build a prototype
  • Cover costs to conduct a pilot or develop a proof-of-concept
  • Pay for web platforms and other technical needs to develop a prototype or launch a pilot
  • Cover out of pocket costs for focus groups or market research

Explore Grants may not be used to:

  • Pay for travel to business plan or similar competitions
  • Pay salaries or consulting fees
  • Cover recurring operating expenses of the venture

To discuss your idea with someone on Team SII, click here to sign up for office hours with Alan Harlam or Lizzie Pollock.