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Sprout Foundation Loan Fund for Student Startups in Green Innovation

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Program Outline


Sprout fundings are considered loans, at zero or minimal interest to startups formed by Clarkson University students while enrolled in undergraduate or graduate studies. The purpose of the fund is to complete “proof of concept”, including prototyping, capitalization, beta testing, and other related activities including personnel, research, and stipends . The funds are to be repaid under agreed-upon terms and conditions and will be managed by the Institute for a Sustainable Environment, Shipley Center for Innovation and the Reh Center for Entrepreneurship.


Only Clarkson University students, as defined by enrollment, are eligible to apply for funds under this program. Students must present official articles of incorporation or other documentation proving the existence of the company, in addition to a developed business plan in order to pre-qualify for the program.  A budget outlining the total amount requested and how/where it will be spent must be included as an appendix to the business plan. The terms of the loan may exceed graduation date.


The SFLF will accept applications for funding and provide loans as needed, given capital constraints. Loans are limited to $50,000 or less based on needs. Any interested company must provide a completed business plan through a dedicated Sprout Foundation Loan Fund website administered by the Shipley Center. Links to the website are available on all three governing centers’ websites (Institute for a Sustainable Environment, Shipley Center for Innovation, and the Reh Center for Entrepreneurship). All applications will be collected and approved by the Institute for a Sustainable Environment, the Shipley Center or Reh Center for review in order to receive approval to complete a loan application. Loan applications will be provided to qualified companies and reviewed by a panel of 3rd party experts including an investor, an intellectual property expert, and a sustainability expert.  

The panel will select companies based on specified criteria.  Criteria will receive a point value range of 0 thru 5 that can be applied to each project.  The total score of the project will represent the sum of these applied points as broken down below:


Point Scale





Economic Development


 Venture Capital


 Total Score



The minimum viable score for funding to be considered is 15 points for any business plan. Companies exceeding 18 points will be pre-approved for additional benefits in terms and expected outcomes/milestones.

The accepted business plan template can be found on the Shipley Center for Innovation website or an electronic copy can be requested by contacting the staff of the Shipley Center.

Acceptable Requests for Funding

Funding will be considered for the following requests:

  • Equipment
  • Materials
  • Space
  • Personnel
  • Contracting
  • Legal Services
  • Certification/testing
  • Other (to be considered based on need)


Applications are reviewed on a semi-annual basis, during the fall and spring semesters.


All funding is considered a loan, to be repaid under negotiated terms and conditions. All payments are rolled into future loans to additional student startups to diversify the portfolio and assure that 100% of funds are in use at all times. Funds will be delivered through prior loan payments, with a target cash-on-hand amount of $0.


Loans will not exceed $50,000 in total capital with repayment terms negotiated depending on need and business plan. Loans are contingent on specified milestones and outcomes outlined in the business plan and agreed upon at the time of the loan. Requirements for all funding recipients must include a quarterly progress report reviewing specified milestones and outcomes. Payments will be based with on quarterly report submission.

Failure to repay on a timely basis will result in negative outcomes for loan recipients including interest penalties and refusal of future funding. Negative outcomes will be clearly outlined in the terms of the loan agreement and will be agreed to in writing by all recipients.