Startup Funding Programs

The MSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach (CEO) provides up to $10,000 of funding to student and faculty startup companies through multiple programs. Three independent review boards that regularly review pitches evaluate and select all funding recipients. Click the tabs below to explore the many funding opportunities available.

Boost Fund

The Boost Fund provides a grant award of up to $1,500.00 to help startups get over a specific need or hurdle. Any entrepreneur working with the E-Center (both MSU and non-MSU) may apply. Funded by alumni donors, the CEO annually awards up to 24 teams, reviewed on a rolling basis by the Entrepreneurship Center Advisory Board (ECAB).

Basis for Award

Applicants will be assessed based upon on the following criteria:

  • Does the team show viability outside of the funding request?
    Gives examples of material traction; Conveys reasonable confidence in the outlook of the business.
  • Does the team identify a need and show they have exhausted other options to work around the hurdle?
    Has identified a critical need that stands in their way; Has exhausted most reasonable workarounds
  • Will the funds have a material impact on the startup?
    The business will likely fail (or never launch) without this; There is likelihood that the business will be able to get meaninfullycloser to self-sustainability with this grant.

Pitch Contents:

  • Who are you?
  • What is your business?
  • What hurdle do you face? Where are you stuck?
  • How have you tried to overcome it?
  • What do you need?
  • How will your business be better?

Use of Funds

Awards funds are unrestricted and may be used to further the development of the proposed venture as defined by the approved plan. The E-Center must explicitly approve the use of funds for other start-up ventures or any other purposes.

In general, boost grants requests for the following will not be approved for these kinds of requests:

  • Common hardware – e.g. laptop/desktop computers, tablets, phones, printers
  • Payroll expenses or operating funds

Award Amount



  • Pitch Length: 5-min
  • Q&A: 5-min
  • Format: Adobe PDF or MS PowerPoint only
  • Medium: USB drive only

Review Dates:

Feb 16th, 2023
3:30pm (The Hub)
(Apply by 2/09 @ 11:59pm)

Mar 23rd, 2023
3:30pm (The Hub)
(Apply by 3/16 @ 11:59pm)

Apr 20th, 2023
3:30pm (The Hub)
(Apply by 4/13 @ 11:59pm)

May 10th, 2023 – Tentative
3:30pm (The Hub)
(Apply by 5/03 @ 11:59pm)

NSF I-Corps Site Grant

Through the National Science Foundation, MSU provides up to $5,000 in funding for travel to learn from potential customers and MVP development while participating in our NSF I-Corps Site training program. The program is open to all students, faculty, researchers and staff at the university who are working on deep technology and exploring bringing their research innovations to market. Topics for I-Corps Teams originate from research — both sponsored and unsponsored.

Up to $3,000 of travel funds authorized immediately

Upon acceptance to the I-Corps Site program, you will have immediate access to money to use for customer discovery.

Use of Award Money:

  1. Attending tradeshows, expos or other large gathering of people who could fit your customer segment.
  2. Limited materials and supply costs which can be charged on an MSU Procard may be approved to enable more effective customer discovery.
  3. In general, the I-Corps Site award may not be used for personnel or prototyping. Ask our program team how we may be able to support those needs with other programs.

Spending Funds:

  1. Accepted I-Corps Site teams will be given a banner account number.
  2. Travel will be handled through the faculty member’s home department using the provided banner number, and forms will need to be routed through the E-Center for secondary approval prior to travel.
  3. Other expenses may be made using the faculty’s home department procurement card and charged to the provided banner number.

Award Amount



  • Training: 5 sessions
  • Duration: 3 weeks

Review Dates:

Click here for cohort dates.

MSU Sidecar Fund

The MSU Sidecar Investment Fund provides equity investment in companies that have a relationship with the Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach. The goal of the Fund is to grow economic development through entrepreneurship in Mississippi by providing more early-stage capital for MSU student or faculty startups, both directly and through magnifying the interest of outside private investors. The MSU Research and Technology Corporation (RTC) and the E-Center jointly manage the Fund, while RTC maintains ultimate oversight and control.

Fund Overview and Mechanics

  • The Fund may only “sidecar” or co-invest in an existing fundraising round with at least two other accredited, qualified angel investors.
  • The Fund will invest under the same terms, class of ownership, and other benefits negotiated as the other qualified investors.
  • The Fund will commit to invest no more than the greater of: $5,000 or 10% of the total investment round for a particular venture, with a maximum individual investment of $10,000. The final individual investment amount may be less in the event the opportunity is oversubscribed.
  • No MSU employee or RTC Board member can serve on the board of, or have a material financial interest in, any holdings in which the Fund invests.


  • The Fund will only be used to invest in for-profit entities that have at least one enrolled MSU student and/or qualifying current MSU employee who individually or collectively hold at least 25% of the equity of the target entity prior to investment. Alumni who began working with the CEO prior to graduation qualify. To qualify, an MSU employee must have MURA Authority approval for the target entity.
  • Under no circumstances will the Fund be used to provide financial support to any business that is (or otherwise perceived to be): (a) based in a foreign country; (b) engaging in any activity that is illegal under federal and/or state law; (c) lewd or sexual in nature; (d) promoting violence or drug use; (e) gambling; or (f) multi-level marketing.

Investment Process

  • The E-Center staff will first review qualified opportunities to ensure the opportunity meets established guidelines. Once satisfactory, the E-Center will draft a memo indicating a preliminary, non-binding amount the Fund intends to invest should the deal proceed. The amount will be based on the above guidelines and the available balance in the Fund account.
  • The E-Center will perform due diligence. The E-Center may collaborate with other potential investors to conduct such due diligence.
  • After performing necessary due diligence, the E-Center Director will draft a formal recommendation to the E-Center Advisory Board (ECAB). The recommendation will be voted upon by a quorum of the ECAB and approved with a 2/3 majority of the Board. If an ECAB member is part of the investment round as an individual investor or has a material financial interest in the target entity, he or she must recuse him/herself from participating in the ECAB’s discussion of the investment and voting.
  • If approved by the ECAB, the E-Center Director will submit a memo, along with a copy of the subscription agreement, a company operating agreement, and any other requested documents to the Office of General Counsel and Director of RTC for review and approval.
  • Upon approval of the General Counsel and the RTC Director, the memo and other requested documents will be submitted to the RTC Sidecar Fund subcommittee. Upon approval by the subcommittee, the Director or President of RTC will execute the subscription agreement and payment directly with the target entity.

Exit Event

  • The Fund will seek “drag-along,” and “tag-along” rights in all investments, which will trigger a sale when either the target entity decides to sell, or a majority shareholder/member sells his/her interest in the target entity.
  • In the event “drag-along” and “tag-along” rights are not secured, the E-Center Director may draft a recommendation to the ECAB. The recommendation will be voted upon by a quorum of the ECAB and approved with a 2/3 majority. If an ECAB member is part of the investment round as an individual investor or has a material financial interest in the target entity, he or she must abstain from voting.
  • Proceeds of the Fund, less applicable taxes, and fees as established in Section 1, shall be used at the discretion of the E-Center in the following priority: (i) Replenishment of the investment fund to the determined minimum level; (ii) Growth of the Fund to target size; and (iii) Disbursement of remaining earnings to the E-Center.

Investment Up To



  • No pitch is required. Document review only.
  • Interested applicants should schedule a meeting with the Director of the E-Center.

Required Documents:

  • Agreed Term Sheet with at least two (2) qualified investors
  • Business Plan
  • Min 36-mo Financial Projections
  • Pitch Deck

Notification & Disbursement

  • Applicants will be notified of their award status via email within 24-hr of their presentation date.
  • Awardees may be supplied with additional feedback of their presentation and application within one week of the notification.
  • Awardees must promptly remit an invoice, signed W9, and award paperwork within 5 business days of notification. Failure to do so may delay award up to two months.
  • Awards will be issued by check on Friday approximately 2-3 weeks after notification of award.
  • When award payments are ready, awardees will be notified for pickup in the CEO Main Office.

Terms of Award

  • Grant money from MSU is taxable income for you and/or your company. The E-Center does not withhold taxes nor can the E-Center provide any tax guidance on ensuring compliance with tax regulations. You can find trusted CPAs who have worked with the E-Center here.
  • Awardees must submit at least four quarterly reports of their progress after receiving an award. The E-Center will provide a template for this report, which includes financial (company sales revenue, projected sales, payroll, external investments), product traction (user/clients served), employment information, and progression to goal.
  • Awardees will provide a detailed summary of expenditures made.
  • Awardees must comply with any stipulations or contingencies proposed by the review board and listed in the notification email.
  • Awardees are strongly encouraged to stay involved with the E-Center and help its mission, including mentorship of future teams.
  • Awardees agree to use grant solely for the purposes enumerated and described within grant request.
  • Awards are offered expecting no return, equity position, or royalties from entrepreneurial businesses and are funded through private contributions.
  • The review boards have the discretion, on a case-by-case basis, to consider exceptions to eligibility and use of funds. This is uncommon and must be discussed in advanced.
  • Under no circumstances will MSU provide financial support to any business that is (or otherwise perceived to be): (a) based in a foreign country; (b) engaging in any activity that is illegal under federal and/or state law; (c) lewd or sexual in nature; (d) promoting violence or drug use; (e) gambling.
  • Awardees shall follow conduct their business practices in a way that is consistent with the MSU Code of Student Conduct (OP 91.100), promote and adhere to responsible business practices, and maintain the highest standard of ethical behavior. Awardees shall refrain from conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, discrimination, or exploitation.
  • By accepting funds from the Mississippi State University and any other associated funding sources, the award recipient affirms that his/her business is in compliance with all local, state, and federal tax laws and license requirements and that his/her business will maintain compliance with all appropriate tax and business compliance guidelines as set forth by the appropriate jurisdictions.