Request for Applications

Program Year 2024

Key Dates

2024 Program Dates

Applications Open: April 2, 2024

Applications Due: May 1, 2024

Phase 1 Begins: June 2, 2024

Program Synopsis

This is the second year for the new Veterans Administration’s Translational Education and Mentoring Center (VA-TEAM) programming.  VA-TEAM is a BLRD funded Center within ORD established to increase translational awareness and knowledge within the VA, move VA-funded research toward commercialization, and help VA researchers consider the challenges of translation as they pursue research.

The primary objective of this program is to provide a mentorship and training program to enable VA investigators to translate their research concepts to the clinical market so veterans can benefit from VA-funded research. A further objective is to more broadly educate investigators on the elements of commercialization to prime the pump for future translational projects. The program builds upon a pressure-tested translational mentorship and training methodology involving a combination of mentorship, didactic content, and active participation by awardees.

The program is designed to provide innovators with the specialized business frameworks and essential tools for successful translation of biomedical technologies from the lab (concept) to the market (clinic). Through this program, the VA fosters the development and commercialization of early-stage biomedical technologies by engaging investigators who are interested in better understanding the value of their innovation in addressing an unmet market need—especially if there is a benefit to Veteran health care. The curriculum and customized mentoring provided by the program are intended to guide investigators as they assess the commercial viability and potential business opportunity for their innovation.

Program Structure

The program is a 48-week long program, divided into two phases, and consists of weekly teleconferences, lectures, and homework, plus an in person group event.  Participants in the program will develop a comprehensive set of core skills that will enable them to:

The teams will be guided through a series of lectures and interactive exercises, pressure-testing commercial viability of ideas using universal business criteria as well as the unique requirements of medical commercialization. Participants also work weekly with experienced business advisors and subject matter experts who provide insights into the market sector, intellectual property, regulatory, and reimbursement requirements specific for their projects.

The first 10 weeks, Phase 1, of the course, will focus on characterizing the unmet market need, identifying the customer and stakeholder segments, conducting customer and stakeholder interviews, and validating the business opportunity. The remaining weeks, Phase 2 of the course, will provide commercialization planning support, covering intellectual property strategy, regulatory and reimbursement requirements, risk assessment, milestone creation and valuation, and preparations for licensing your work to commercial partners.

Sixteen teams will be selected to participate in Phase 1.  Of these teams, eight will be selected at the end of Phase 1 to continue to Phase 2.

 Phase 1
Exploratory Education

The first phase will consist of a series of online workshops consisting of training in specific knowledge areas necessary for translating academic research to commercialization, and will highlight the unique environment of accomplishing this for veteran health care. Each team will be expected to attend each workshop and prepare homework specific to their projects between each session. Teams will be expected to interview 4-6 stakeholders in their field to validate the clinical need. At the end of this phase, each team will prepare a short pitch to present to our leadership team, selection committee, and their peers. The best pitches will be chosen to participate in the second phase. The goal of the first phase is to broadly increase awareness of the commercialization process and develop a more robust translational research culture within the VA. Teams from all four VA research services are invited to participate.

Phase 2
Mentoring and Management

In this second phase, focused on mentorship and project management, teams chosen through the pitch competition will be vetted by our oversight committee, and then selected for participation. This committee will select projects that already have sufficient near-term research funding, have potential to impact on veteran care, are near the point of translation, and are attractive for commercialization. The program builds on an already validated and deployed model, and is divided into the following components:

Budget and Project Period

This is an educational program and does not have attached funding.

Projects selected for Phase 1 will begin on June 12th, and present their learning at the Pitch Day in late August.  Projects selected at the Pitch Day to continue to Phase 2 will begin in late September and continue through the Final Presentation at the middle of March 2024.

Program Eligibility

General Information


Projects described in the application must relate directly to applications in health care, and special consideration will be given to projects with potential to positively influence Veteran healthcare. The objectives of the project should include an outcome that will benefit patients. Evaluation of each proposal will be on the basis of strength of clinical need, potential health care impact and significance, focus on Veteran needs, experience of the investigators, and the potential for commercialization.


Completion of a two-page application for Phase 1 is required for consideration in the program.  All applicants must meet the eligibility requirements at the time of application.  Participants in Phase 1 will pitch their projects, including what they’ve learned during Phase 1,  to the Selection Committee as their application for acceptance in Phase 2.  Sixteen teams will be selected for Phase 1, and eight teams will be selected for Phase 2.

More information and the application may be found at or by contacting the program director at 

Point of Contact

Ken Gustafson, PhD

Director, VA Translation Education and Mentoring Center

Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center