Every semester, students bring a wide range of innovative projects to life at Jacobs Hall and throughout Berkeley’s vibrant design ecosystem. The Jacobs Institute Innovation Catalysts, made possible by the Eustace-Kwan Family Foundation, is a student grant program that provides an avenue for these ambitious student innovators to unlock further potential in their projects. Berkeley students are invited to propose projects that they aim to develop over the course of a semester. Selected grantees will work on their projects with the support of resources from the Jacobs Institute and CITRIS Invention Lab, and as part of a cohort of fellow student innovators. Reflecting a focus on shared investment within the institute’s student design community, the Jacobs Institute Student Advisory Board (SAB) plays a key role in the grant selection process. SAB members, who represent diverse perspectives from the student community, review and make finalist recommendations on grant submissions.
The Innovation Catalysts are awarded on a biannual basis, in January and September; several grants will be awarded during each grant cycle. Two types of grants are offered in the Innovation Catalysts program:
Grantees commit to:
Grantees receive monetary stipends at the start of the grant cycle, as requested in their grant proposals. Stipends are disbursed in the form of department awards from the UC Berkeley Financial Aid & Scholarships Office; please contact them if you have questions about how receiving a grant would affect your financial aid package or taxes. The grantees in each grant cycle will form a cohort, with members serving as peers and resources for each other. In addition to the grant stipends, grantees will receive support from the Maker Pass ecosystem at Jacobs Hall and the CITRIS Invention Lab, including advising from staff and sponsored Maker Passes. Winners of Ignite grants will also receive support for professional-quality documentation of their work.
Applicant eligibility: Applicants can apply as individuals or in teams of up to five members. Everyone on the applicant team must be an active UC Berkeley student and present on campus during the grant cycle. Both undergraduate and graduate students, from all departments and programs, are eligible.
Project eligibility: All projects must make use of the Maker Pass program. Beyond that, we welcome a wide range of projects at the intersection of design and technology innovation, reflecting the multitude of talents and interests in the Jacobs community.
Selection criteria: The Jacobs Student Advisory Board and leadership will evaluate applications based on the strength of the project, written proposal, and applicants. Projects should align with the Jacobs mission and values, make meaningful use of Maker Pass resources, balance innovation and ambition with feasibility, and have potential for high impact on an identified design/technological challenge. Proposals should be clear and detailed. Applicants should demonstrate that they have the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to succeed.
The selection committee will cultivate a grant cohort that represents the diversity of the Berkeley community and fosters an inclusive design community. To that end, students from underrepresented or nontraditional backgrounds are encouraged to apply.
Important dates and events for the spring 2020 grant cycle are as follows.
The application for the spring 2020 grant cohort has closed. The fall 2020 application will open this summer; you can sign up to receive an announcement when it does. The application form requests basic information about your project and then ask you to upload a detailed proposal. Proposals must follow the formatting and content guidelines below:
Content and outline guidelines
To receive announcements about the Innovation Catalysts program, including reminders about upcoming key dates, sign up to receive alerts. Contact Amy Dinh, student services & programs manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions.
Read about the current and past grant cohorts: