About SPARK-VT

A message from Provost Rosowsky and Vice President Galbraith

The University of Vermont is one of the nation's premier small research universities and is home to a diversity of research programs led by world-class faculty across multiple disciplines.

Innovative and creative work at UVM has enriched the lives of many thousands of UVM students. Such work has also greatly benefitted the community by advancing new ways of thinking about the environment, social systems and human health, as well as supporting statewide economic development.

As the breadth and magnitude of our research grows, we also seek to provide opportunities for our faculty and students to successfully bring innovations to market and launch new companies. This is critical to our success as a research university and in fulfilling our mission as a land grant university.

To accelerate this translation of new knowledge into tangible benefits to society, the Offices of the Provost and of the Vice President for Research are pleased to sponsor SPARK VT. This program is based on a pioneering program at Stanford University which was initially adopted by the Department of Medicine at UVM. SPARK VT brings the experience and insight of a panel of distinguished and successful entrepreneurs to the critical evaluation of promising innovative applications of new knowledge. Those adjudged to be most meritorious receive start-up funding and milestone evaluation by the panel.

David Rosowsky, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE
Provost and Senior Vice President 

Richard Galbraith, M.D., Ph.D.
Vice President for Research

The History of SPARK-VT

Inspired by and based on a program developed at Stanford University, Department of Medicine Chair Polly Parsons, M.D. launched SPARK VT as a pilot in late 2012. Under Dr. Parsons' direction, the program's steering committee — which included Professor of Medicine Mercedes Rincon, Ph.D.; department business manager Eric Gagnon, and other Medicine Faculty — put out a call to its faculty members and researchers for proposals aimed at translating novel ideas into therapies, diagnostics, or devices that could "advance rapidly into clinical care through commercialization or other pathways." This left a wide berth for any number of ideas — from therapeutic devices and medical applications available on smart phones to new chemical compounds or pharmaceuticals. SPARK-VT grew to include the Departments of Neurological Sciences and Obstetrics Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences in 2013-14 and university-wide in 2014-15.