• Twitter()
  • Facebook()
  • Print this Story
  • Email this Story
Text Size AAA

LIMITED SUBMISSION: The Moore Inventor Fellows 2020

Created: September 9, 2019

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation announces the fifth competition for Moore Inventor Fellows. The foundation seeks to identify outstanding inventors and innovators who harness science and technology to enhance the conduct of scientific research, strengthen environmental conservation, or improve the experience and outcomes of patient care.

The program focuses on supporting scientist-inventors at a critical stage of research to capture opportunities that otherwise might be missed. The Foundation seeks to provide freedom and support to promising inventors with the most compelling ideas to pursue creative work.

The scope of this call is intentionally wide: proposed projects do not need to fall within the Foundation’s current funding priorities, but should be broadly within the program areas of foundation interest (science, environmental conservation and patient care). The exception is for nominees proposing ideas and inventions that target patient care. Within this realm, the Foundation seeks overlap with the current emphasis on improving the experience and outcomes of patients, including solutions in the areas of diagnostic excellence, medication safety in the community and community-based serious illness care.  This program does not plan to make fellowship awards in ideas that focus on disease specific inventions, randomized control trials for drug efficacy or basic biomedical research.

The aim is to support inventions at an early stage that could lead to proof-of-concept work on an invention or advance an existing prototype that tackles an important problem. Innovations are sought that have the promise of making a long-lasting impact by addressing underlying problems in their field, but a clear path toward commercialization is not a requirement. The Foundation is not interested in supporting projects that are already at a stage where significant venture capital is available. The foundation seeks to measure progress toward a defined goal during the three years of support.

With the recognition that real invention can take surprising turns, creative individuals who have big ideas, deep knowledge and the courage to take smart risks are sought. The Foundation recognizes that inventors and innovators come from a diversity of backgrounds, disciplines and experiences, and seek creative individuals across a broad array of academic programs and research departments. Examples of such programs include, but are not limited to environmental science and conservation, oceanography, biology, engineering, physics, chemistry, materials science, neuroscience, public health and gerontology.

Selection Process

The foundation selection process has two stages. In the first stage, each submission will be reviewed by the foundation staff with advice from external reviewers. In the second, finalists make an in-person presentation on the importance, plausibility, status and possible impact of their proposed line of work to a panel of advisors. After these presentations, the advisory committee and foundation staff will make recommendations to the foundation president for the fellowships.


Each fellow will receive funding for three years at a level of $200,000 per year from the Moore Foundation. Fellows may use the grant funds to support their own salary, hire undergraduates, graduate assistants or postdoctoral scholars and purchase services, equipment, or supplies.

In addition to funds for the fellow, the foundation will provide the host institution with $25,000 each year to cover costs associated with administering the grant award, resulting in a total three-year award amount of $675,000. 

Each host institution will be required to make a contribution of $50,000 in annual direct support of the inventor’s work. This can be “in kind” as released time or access to special facilities for which there is normally a charge.

Additional Information
  • It is our understanding at Northwestern that the Foundation’s science program is not biomedical, not about curing disease, but about path-breaking fundamental science research. The science program focuses on new tools and techniques and research at the frontiers of science.  In addition, the Patient Care area is also not about drugs or treatment, but outcomes and experience of patients in the hospital system.
  • Details of the proposed invention will be held confidential and members of the advisory committee will sign nondisclosure agreements before reviewing any applicant material. The foundation will work with fellows and their host institutions on agreeable language to be shared in announcements of the award winners. 
  • The foundation’s policy states all intellectual property must be managed and disseminated in a manner that leads to the greatest impact. Each award will include IP terms to reflect the needs of each project.
  • Please visit the following links for information on the awardees: 2016 Fellows; 2017 Fellows; and 2018 Fellows
  • Please visit this link for FAQs
  • Candidates must be faculty, research scientists, postdocs, or other full-time staff at eligible institutions.
  • Candidates must be no more than 10 years past receiving the terminal advanced degree in their field (MS, PhD, or MD). A degree received on any date in 2010 is acceptable.
  • Each fellow is required to devote at least 25 percent of their own time to their invention.
Limit on Number of Proposals Per Organization

Each eligible university can submit two nominations for consideration.

Key Dates
  • Internal Letter of Intent Due: Thursday, September 19 (by 11:59 PM)
  • Internal Proposal Due (by Invitation): Monday, October 14, (by 11:59 PM)
  • Notification by: Tuesday, November 5
  • Sponsor Application Due: Friday, December 13 (by 5:00 PM PT)
  • Finalist Presentations Due (by Invitation): Week of April 20, 2020
  • Finalist in-person presentations: Week of May 4, 2020

Note: All eligible investigators who submit a letter of intent by the deadline above will be invited to submit an internal proposal.

Submitting a Mandatory Letter of Intent

Faculty members interested in applying are required to submit a letter of intent (LOI) by the deadline specified above. If interest exceeds the number of submissions the university is allowed, an internal competition will be held.

  1. Click here to access the LOI form.
  2. Name the LOI as follows:  “LastName-FirstInitial-Moore-Inventor-Fellows-2020”, replacing “LastName” with your last name and “First Initial” with your first initial.
  3. Submit your LOI by completing this web form. Note: Supplemental documents are not accepted.
  4. To receive a confirmation email and copy of your submission, check the box (“Send me a copy of my responses”) and enter your email address.
  5. Click “Submit”.
Internal Proposal Guidelines

Proposals should be prepared with 1 inch margins, all around, 12 point font size and type and are required to contain the following components:

  1. Cover page (1 page limit) with descriptive title, your name and departmental affiliation, NU key personnel, and external partners.
  2. Introduction (ONLY if you previously submitted an internal proposal to this program) that includes the following components (0.5 page, max):
    • Summarize how your research proposal differs from your previous submission(s).
    • Summarize how your application as a whole differs from your previous submission(s) (i.e., publications, honors, awards, accomplishments, etc.).
  3. Statement of invention (2 page limit, including citations and figures):  The first paragraph should describe clearly and without jargon the invention, the problem it seeks to address, and its potential impact. The statement of invention should also include the following information:
    • Description of invention
    • Importance in the area of science, environmental conservation, or patient care and experience
    • Stage of invention
    • Current funding
    • Feasibility
    • Approach for measuring progress during the grant term
  4. Summary CV to include (2 page limit):
    • Educational and professional background
    • Key accomplishments, honors and demonstrated areas of expert knowledge
    • Other background information relevant to this invention
  5. Names of two references (one reference may be your Department Chair/Division Chief) that can evaluate your promise as an applicant and your invention. One reference must come from outside Northwestern. For each reference, indicate his/her title, affiliation, and most notable awards/honors.
  6. A recommendation letter from your department Chair/division Chief. If you are a Department Chair and/or your Department Chair is a key personnel on any proposal for this competition, please provide a letter from your Research Dean. NOTE: This letter must indicate that you will have at least 25 percent protected time in pursuit of your invention for the three-year duration of the award.

Moore Inventor Fellows evaluation criteria will be used in reviewing the internal proposals:

  1. Inventor
    •  Demonstrated creative potential
    •  Strong technical ability for the proposed line of work
  2. Invention
    • Importance of the invention in areas of interest to the Moore Foundation - science, environmental conservation, or patient care
    • Invention at an early stage that requires this funding for rapid progress
    • Plausibility of this invention to achieve the stated impact
    • Ability of dedicated funding and time to propel this innovation to the next stage of development; commercialization is not a requirement
    • Strength of the institution’s commitment to the applicant’s invention activities
Uploading the Internal Proposal
  1. Prepare your proposal as a SINGLE PDF FILE. It should be named ”LastName-FirstInitial-Moore-Inventor-2020," replacing "LastName" with your last name and "FirstInitial" with your first initial.
  2. Click on the web form link provided in the email inviting you to submit the internal proposal.
  3. To receive a confirmation email and copy of your submission, check the box (“send me a copy of my responses”) and enter your email address.
  4. Click “Submit”.
Contact and Additional Information

For questions about this funding opportunity, please contact: Sarah Fodor, Executive Director Foundation & Corporate Relations, Alumni Relations & Development, (847) 491- 4584, s-fodor@northwestern.edu.

For questions about the limited submission process, please contact: Karen Cielo, Interim Director, 847-467-0043, k-cielo@northwestern.edu or Limited Submissions website.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, Fellowships