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General Questions

Questions Specific to Application Process:


General FAQs

Q. I am a former McMaster student and have recently started a company, am I eligible to apply for funding?

At this time, we are limiting eligibility to start-up companies that meet both of the following criteria: (a) are or will be incorporated for the purpose of commercializing an innovation, knowledge or intellectual property arising from research labs at McMaster or its affiliated hospitals, AND (b) at least one company founder is a member of the McMaster community (faculty, student, staff, alumni). In the future, we would like to broaden the eligibility  requirements.  Please check back often as we update our program.

Q. I am a McMaster Faculty member consulting for a local start-up, is the company eligible to apply for funding?

At this time, we are limiting eligibility to start-up companies that meet both of the following criteria: (a) are or will be incorporated for the purpose of commercializing an innovation, knowledge or intellectual property arising from research labs at McMaster or its affiliated hospitals, AND (b) at least one company founder is a member of the McMaster community (faculty, student, staff, alumni). In the future, we would like to broaden the eligibility  requirements.  Please check back often as we update our program.

Q. Is there a minimum or maximum amount of investment that I can apply for?

McMaster Seed Fund expects to make investments of up to $500K to enable start-up companies that are commercializing McMaster research. Applications will need to provide a reasonable and justifiable budget that indicates how the funds will enable the company to meet value-creating milestones to meet their business and investment objectives.

Q. What is the consideration to McMaster University in exchange for this investment?

McMaster Seed Fund will give you money now in exchange for a promise that the start-up company will grant shares to McMaster at a future date when the company raises money on a priced round with a lead investor. As it is often challenging to value companies that are very early in their development and to make it as start-up friendly as possible, the investment will normally be in the form of a SAFE- Simple Agreement for Future Equity.

Q. What is a SAFE?

SAFE stands for a “Simple Agreement for Future Equity”, which is an agreement between a company and an investor. The investors invests money in the company, and in exchange, the investor receives the right to acquire stock in a future equity round, subject to certain considerations set in the SAFE. This agreement was originally created by Y Combinator, an accelerator in the Silicon Valley and has been adopted by other early-stage investors as it is start-up friendly, can be executed quickly  and requires lower legal costs to process as there is no need to determine the valuation of the company. The National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) has worked with other organizations, including the Federal government, to ensure that the Canadian SAFE has been adapted to work with Canadian securities laws.

Q. What support can I expect from McMaster if I am awarded an investment?

Depending on the milestones and needs of your company, MILO staff can provide support through our network of mentors, entrepreneurs-in-residence, investors, and consultants; assist with relevant grant opportunities, advise on IP matters, and act as a liaison within the university. There is an expectation that you will meet regularly with a MILO representative or assigned mentor to ensure you are on track with meeting your milestones and to address any challenges you are facing.

Q. What is the application process?

MILO will oversee the application process. There will be an initial screen of applications to ensure that they meet the eligibility criteria. Eligible applications will be further reviewed by a small team at MILO, who will work with the applicants to ensure completeness of a due diligence package and pitch deck that address the strengths, challenges, and potential opportunities of the start-up. Once ready, applicants will present their investment pitch for evaluation and decision by the Investment Committee.

Applications will be open and accepted on a rolling basis, the Investment Committee is expected to meet on a quarterly basis. Funding is limited and will be awarded competitively. In order to have your application reviewed in time for the first Committee meeting, application must be submitted to MILO by October 29th, 2021 to Leigh Wilson at wilsle@mcmaster.ca.

Q. How will investment decisions be made?

The Investment Committee (IC) is made up of independent, external professionals (investors, serial entrepreneurs, C-level executives) with extensive experience in evaluating start up opportunities in all industry sectors.  Applicants will make an investment pitch presentation to members of the Investment Committee. Final funding decisions are made by the IC.

Q. What is the term of the award?

The expectation is that applicants will use the investment to meet value-creating milestones, such as generate validation data, add key strengths to their team, refine their business model or strategy, gain customer traction, such that they will be positioned to raise their next round of investment within 2 years.

Q. What are allowable budget items?

No restrictions, as long as the use of funds can be justified as reasonable expenses to support advancing the company to their next value inflection point. As such budget can include (but is not limited to) : salaries, consultant fees, prototype development costs, validation and testing required, travel expenses for customer validation. The funding is not for early stage discovery research or past expenses.


Application Process FAQs:

Q. In section 1 of the application, a team is to be described.  Can I still apply as an individual?

Yes, but you should have a plan to hire/collaborate with an additional team member in the near future.  Ideally, there should be at least one  team member with start-up or business experience and the ability to commit significant time into a successful start-up. One of the primary objectives of the McMaster Seed Fund is to accelerate the development of the innovation and start-up venture. To do this effectively, we believe that your company will require at least one full-time equivalent personnel whose focus is on moving the company forward.

Q. Is a business plan and/or commercial partner required to be in place to be eligible?

A formal business plan, secured customer or partner is not required to apply, – however, your team should have considered aspects related to a business plan such as market, competitive analysis and IP landscape, and identified your target market or shown evidence of customer validation.  These are to be addressed in your application form/pitch deck and you can expect to be asked related questions by the Investment Committee.

Q. Do I need to have an incorporated company to apply?

No- but, if awarded, a condition of receiving the investment will be to incorporate as a for-profit Canadian company (prior to transfer of the funds).