Program for science-based start-ups awarded up to $3.2 million in funding


The National Institutes of Health has awarded a grant through the IDeA Program to iRED University – a new collaboration between DESCA, formerly the Delaware Sustainable Chemistry Alliance, the University of Delaware, and InsiteHub, a Newark-based consulting firm.

The program will deliver an online entrepreneurial curriculum geared to early-stage startups to aid in identifying their most viable applications as early as possible and connect them to an innovation and mentoring ecosystem.

The program is funded through a three-year grant totaling up to $3.2 million, of which more than $980,000 will be directed to DESCA. The Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant is now in Phase I, with follow-on funding expected in Phase II.

According to the National Science Board 2018 Science & Engineering Indicators, university invention disclosures totaled 22,507 in 2015 (compared to 13,718 in 2003), and patent applications almost doubled over the same period. In 2016 alone, with more than 6,600 chemistry and sciences patents. Yet many of these patents never realize their full commercial value.

iRED University will be delivered through a rigorous and engaging online curriculum, according to a release. The curriculum will lead innovators from ideation, identifying market gaps, and execution of a product strategy. The platform will also provide the ability to assess participants at the point of registration and allow them to develop and access a personalized curriculum that can be customized for their specific gaps. This helps both new and experienced innovators.


The product will be initially launched in Delaware and open to the entire Northeast when launched.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) established the IDeA (Institutional Development Award) Program in 1993 to broaden the geographic distribution of NIH funding and enhance competitiveness for funding in states with historically low NIH funding.

The states that fall within the Northeast Region besides Delaware include Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Other regions include the Southeast Region (West Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Puerto Rico, Missouri), Central Region (North & South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Omaha) and the Western Region (Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii).

The core team for this new partnership includes Dr. Julius Korley, associate vice president UD Office of Economic Innovation & Partnerships (OEIP), Louis DiNetta, technology business development manager for the Delaware Small Business Development Center, John Royer, CEO, of Insite Hub, and Dora Cheatham, executive director, DESCA, and combines expertise in technology development and commercialization, online curriculum development and execution, business development and new product commercialization and SBIR/STTR expertise.