Frequently Asked Questions


What is Stanford Medicine Catalyst ? 

Catalyst is a joint strategic effort between the School of Medicine, Stanford Health Care, and Stanford Children’s Health, and serves as Stanford Medicine’s flagship innovation program to support inventors across the Stanford community in developing and accelerating their most promising innovations for transforming health.

What sort of innovations does Catalyst support?

Catalyst supports transformative, prototype-stage innovations across the spectrum of healthcare, including Digital Health, Medical Technology, Diagnostics, and Therapeutics. While we are interested in hearing from innovators at any stage of their project’s lifecycle, best fits include the following characteristics:

  • A unique innovation, with a clear market or healthcare need, which has the potential to transform health.
  • A team with the commitment, passion and expertise to develop this innovation to help change the world (not necessarily a fully-formed team). And, a lead who personally can commit to daily involvement in the project, and responsibility for hitting project milestones.
  • Your innovation has some level of enablement, beyond a concept, or basic science: an early working prototype, feasibility data, or other early data to validate the potential of your innovation.
  • You have not created an incorporated entity for the purpose of profiting from the output of the research efforts underlying the innovation’s progression, and/or which might be deemed a conflict of interest under Stanford’s Conflict of Interest Policy—including, for instance, taking actions such as having received for-profit investment, having licensed the innovation, or having an entity that has received future option rights for such license.
  • Additional funding (up to $1M) and Stanford health system/ operational support will allow you to accomplish your next foundational project milestones within approximately 9-12 months and enable the project’s translation post-Catalyst.
  • Your team has broad diversity in experience and background


Who is eligible?

Catalyst supports healthcare projects from inventors across Stanford’s community—including projects from faculty, staff, and students.

Does my innovation need to be patented/ protected by intellectual property?

Most Catalyst-funded innovations have developed a pathway for intellectual property protection, inclusive of engagement with Stanford’s Office of Technology Licensing with a minimum of a provisional patent application (an issued patent is not required). However, it should be noted that certain projects may not need patent protection for their long-term success and contributions to Stanford and global healthcare innovation.

What project stage is appropriate for the Catalyst program?

Catalyst funds projects with some level of enablement, beyond solely a concept or basic science – e.g. with an early working prototype, and/or feasibility data, or other early data to validate the potential of your innovation.

What expectations does Catalyst have for post-Catalyst “translation”?

Catalyst engages with projects at an early stage, after the project has achieved some level of enablement, with an expectation that the project can translate beyond the current stage of research/development after successful completion of its foundational project milestones in Catalyst. For some projects this translation will mean incorporation, and funding from outside investors. For others, this may include partnering with industry, licensing technology, or translation/integration into clinical care. In other words, Catalyst aims to advance innovations from prototype to execution or from beta to production application, enabling immediate impact for patients – or as soon as possible following graduation from Catalyst.

What resources does Catalyst contribute?

Catalyst fosters selected innovations by offering capital (up to $1M), operational-support, mentorship and access to industry and investment experts. Catalyst is not a research grant. Catalyst rolls up its sleeves with you – aiding your project along the way – delivering necessary resources, such as program management, validation resources, testing and enterprise-level deployment and implementation within Stanford Medicine clinical settings or its broader health care system, go-to-market resources, readiness for independence and exposure to outside investors.

What is the application process?

Currently, Catalyst opens application windows for incoming innovations on an annual cycle. During each application cycle (cohort), each project is thoroughly reviewed and evaluated by the Catalyst team, alongside guidance from expert teams from Stanford Medicine, partnering industry entrepreneurs, operators and investors. The applicant pool is then cut down to finalists and advancing projects move through successive evaluation stages and emerge as Catalyst award recipients.