Grantmaking Process

The Lemelson Foundation does not seek, nor often fund, unsolicited grant applications. The Foundation’s approach to grantmaking focuses on making commitments that enable us to invest in long-term strategies and partnerships which align with Our Approach and Our Programs.

We do not generally directly support inventors in the creation or development of individual inventions; however such support may be accessible through our partners, as noted on our How to Participate page.


How can I apply for a grant?

Foundation funding is typically by invitation-only from our staff that identifies opportunities in the field.

How does an organization receive an invitation to submit a proposal?

Program staff consults with researchers, practitioners, policy makers, current and previous grantees and others to identify programs which most appropriately match the Foundation’s strategic goals and fit within our opportunity criteria.

Does the Foundation ever accept unsolicited proposals?

The Foundation primarily accepts grant proposals by invitation. However, if your organization’s work is consistent with the Foundation’s strategy and approach, you may submit a preliminary inquiry with concept note as a means of letting Program staff learn about your activities. To submit the concept note, please click here to answer a short eligibility quiz before starting the inquiry and concept note process.

Program staff will follow up only if the concept note follows the 1-page guideline and if it is determined that the concept has a potential for funding.

How do you evaluate submitted proposals?

Invited proposals are evaluated based on the following:

  1. Direct alignment with Foundation strategy
  2. Fit within Opportunity Criteria, which includes Direct Impact, Leverage, Opportunity for Learning and Financial Commitment
  3. Fit within Secondary Criteria, which includes Population Served and Environmental Sustainability Plan
  4. Quality of project.

Do you give grants to independent inventors or individuals?

In compliance with IRS tax laws, we are unable to provide funding directly to individuals (ie. someone not associated with an organization or entity that is able to demonstrate a charitable purpose).

Can you suggest other funding sources?

The Foundation Center maintains a comprehensive listing of U.S. foundations and their areas of interest. The U.S. Government also offers many grant opportunities.

What happens after my full proposal is submitted to the Foundation?

Proposals, including a budget and budget narrative, are evaluated by Foundation staff. Depending on the size of the grant request, the proposal is either presented to the Foundation’s Executive Director or the Foundation’s Board of Directors for funding consideration. Meritorious grant proposals that fit within the Foundation’s Strategic Goals and Opportunity Criteria are awarded. After an approval, Foundation staff works with the awardee and Institution to draft an agreement letter that capture the intent of the program or project as well as includes Foundation terms and conditions for the award.

How long does the proposal review process take?

It depends on the grant cycle and the timing in which you submitted your proposal. Typically, from start (which we define as when Program staff requests a proposal) to finish (which we define as an award letter being sent to an organization) takes 6 months.

Do you have a proposal format?

The Foundation does have a required proposal and budget format that are sent to applicants when a full proposal is officially requested.