The GVSU Innovation Fund

In January 2020, President Mantella announced the creation of the Innovation Fund. The Fund’s purpose is to invest in new initiatives to propel Grand Valley forward and to activate ideas that emerged as institutional priorities during our data gathering last Fall. As we focus on the short-term situation it is essential for us to think long-term. What we are facing today will inform decisions and actions taken tomorrow. We must prepare for a new normal. 

As we face it, we must all acknowledge and prepare for the need to build out our digital infrastructure, the need to make new and deepen our networks with alumni, employers, and much more. Initiatives funded should support at least one of the five presidential priorities below.

We are in an era that requires focus in order to bridge from where we are today to where we need to be tomorrow. The Innovation Fund also requires focus today and will pivot to narrow in on the most high-impact areas we will face after COVID-19.

Please consider submitting applications to address issues such as: learning loss – social inequity in the K-12 system, high engagement online learning and the virtual experience, new forms of integrated work and learning, and any other initiative that will allow our students to thrive in new and changing times. 

Your ideas will bring Grand Valley out of this stronger and will help us reach higher together.


Ideas that Address Today's Issues
For a Better GVSU Tomorrow
Rolling Application
Submit by the 15th of Each Month
Idea Must Support One of the Five Presidential Priorities

The Presidential Priorities

Strengthening the Grand Valley Experience: A Lifetime Value

  1. Knowledge and skills for the 21st Century – an education that builds on our longstanding commitment to liberal education to include digital competencies, entrepreneurial opportunities, and cross-disciplinary synergies and expands our experiential learning commitments.
  2. Build on the reciprocity of learning – a signature of the faculty-student relationship at Grand Valley. 
  3. The Laker Lifetime Learning – a commitment established to create an ongoing connection between Lakers and the university.

A Diverse and Inclusive Economic Engine

  1. Expand access to new learners with high-quality online/hybrid adult learning and new pathways to GVSU.
  2. Talent Epicenter to attract entrepreneurs and employers to the talent of Grand Valley, expanding experiential learning and post graduate opportunities while addressing their talent needs


About the Fund

The Innovation Fund is independent of the general Grand Valley fund. It includes resources from reserves and donor funds and will seed experiments directly related to the five presidential priorities above. Those with demonstrated success will be considered in the university budget process as appropriate. We must innovate with purpose around focused outcomes we desire. We are confident in the many talents of our community and are certain Grand Valley will succeed with your effort.


Innovation Fund Criteria


  • The idea must directly support at least one of the five presidential priorities.
  • The funding commitments are a maximum of two years; it is a one-time investment until and unless success is proven.
  • Defined metrics of success in the proposal.
  • The proposal must contain a funding commitment for at least 20 percent of the cost; the university will invest up to 80 percent.
  • Endorsements are encouraged with the submission from those individuals necessary to make the proposal a reality, including the appropriate dean and/or vice president.
  • See the application and FAQ for more information on submission and proposal criteria.


Application and Selection Process


  • Innovation Fund applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.
  • Applications received by the 15th of each month will be reviewed by President's Cabinet, which meets the last week of each month.
  • Decisions will be made and shared during first week of the following month.
  • Proposals received after the 15th of the month may be delayed for decision-making until the end of the following month. 
  • Vice presidents may set up a review process for proposals within their divisions to make recommendations to the President's Cabinet, which will review all requests and determine approval and funding levels.
  • An additional or initial review will be conducted by a small team comprised of representatives from the President's office, Provost's office, Budget office, and others as needed.
  • The team may request more information or analysis prior to forwarding any recommended proposals to President's Cabinet. 
  • Lead authors of proposals and their appointing officers or unit heads will be invited to join President's Cabinet to present their proposal for five minutes followed by questions.

*Note: President's Cabinet is usually scheduled the last Friday of the month from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Please direct any questions about the Innovation Fund to

Selection Process Details

When determined appropriate, the President’s Cabinet provides final approval of Fund proposals. All proposals submitted by the 15th of the month will be reviewed at the next Cabinet meeting (scheduled for the last Friday of the month). Proposal writers and their appointing officer(s) will be invited to briefly “pitch” their concept to the Cabinet with an opportunity for questions and answers.

President Mantella will inform all participants of decision on their proposals during the first week of the month following submission of a proposal (if submitted before the 15th of the previous month).

If using industry or outside organizations as “users” of any product or service, a small advisory council should be formed. The advisory council will be engaged in the ongoing evaluation of the initiative.

Proposals will be reviewed by the small team on a regular basis. Vice President Bernal will request quarterly progress reports from all funded proposals. Each proposal will undergo a full small team review with the lead proposer 12 months after the award of funds. Second year funding may be contingent on this end of first year review. At the end of the two years of funding, proposals will undergo a final review for determination of next steps which may include: extension of support; self-sustained or revenue generating effort continues; course corrections or changes that enable possible success to allow for an extension of funding for a defined period of time and determined final review period and metrics; or, funding ends and initiative is ended.

At the end of two years of funding, the final evaluation will include an expectation for the initiative or unit/department/college/division to contribute back to the Innovation Fund. The contribution level and timing will be determined by a number of factors and will help support ongoing investments for university innovation.

Innovation Workshop Series

Innovation Workshop Series

Part 2 - Budget