Leading the Way at Weill Cornell—daedalusfund

Launched in 2014, Weill Cornell Medicine’s Daedalus Fund for Innovation is designed to advance early stage applied and translational research projects that have significant commercial potential. The core objective is to bridge the post-discovery/pre-commercial development gap and accelerate qualified projects to the point at which they would be considered “partnership ready,” i.e., attractive opportunities for collaboration and partnering with industry, and strong candidates for licensing and business development. 

Establishing proof-of-concept is essential to attract investment and development partners from industry and the venture community. The Daedalus Fund provides support of $100,000 (or more, if warranted) for key critical path experiments aimed at generating the kind of proof-of-concept and validation data necessary to build value around embryonic technologies and early stage research projects, which will help us grow the number and quality of alliances and collaborations with industry.


Beginning in January 2017, there will be two Requests-for Proposals annually. As in the past, recipients of Daedalus funding will be selected through an internal RFP process. In addition, funding is now offered at two levels:

Level I Awards: Level I Awards will be funded up to $100K for a period of 12 months. Level I Awards are intended to support preliminary proof-of-concept activities that (if successful) would establish a potential basis for a subsequent Level II Award proposal (if additional funding is required). By way of example, Level I Award proposals may, among other things, be aimed at:

  • Identification of candidate therapeutic compounds or biologics, and confirmation that the candidate molecules demonstrate target-specific biological activity

  • Demonstration that a candidate vaccine antigen or technology elicits a functional immune response in a suitable animal model

  • Demonstration that a candidate biomarker detection method is appropriately sensitive and specific under ideal lab conditions.

  • In vitro development and validation of a therapeutic delivery platform

Level II Awards: Level II Awards will be funded at a maximum of $300k for a period of up to 24 months, as appropriate. Any project with a timeline exceeding 12 months will be formally reviewed no later than the end of the first year, and approval of second-year funding will be contingent upon the achievement of proposed technical milestones or value inflection points that must be specified in the body of the proposal. Our hope and expectation is that the research results obtained through Level II Awards will be sufficient to generate partnerable projects and/or technologies within or shortly after the proposed project timeline.

For detailed guidelines and application materials, click here.

In order to help us select the most promising projects for funding in the most unbiased manner possible, proposals are reviewed by an independent Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) comprising recognized scientific and thought leaders drawn from the biopharma industry and the venture community. The SAC utilizes well-established, stringent criteria to help select the most competitive and impactful proposals for funding, and its members also help to oversee and assess progress of the funded projects, which must be milestone-driven and designed to reach specified value-inflection points which can be leveraged to drive high quality alliances with industry going forward. 

Information on the projects selected for funding in past years can be found here.


The Daedalus Fund is managed by Larry Schlossman, Managing Director of WCM’s office of BioPharma Alliances and Research Collaborations. If you have any questions about the Daedalus Fund or the application process, please don’t hesitate to contact Larry at las2041@med.cornell.edu.