The Miguel Zubizarreta Accelerator Award For Student Innovation


The Z-Fund is sponsored by Miguel Zubizarreta (CWR '90). Miguel served as the Chief Technology Officer of Hyland Software, Inc. from September 1994 until August 1, 2016 and its Executive Vice President until August 1, 2016. As the original architect behind Hyland's OnBase software, his passion for innovation and insights into technology helped grow Hyland Software from 3 employees to over 2000, and helped transform content management at over 15,000 companies and organizations worldwide. Through the Z-Fund, Miguel hopes "to encourage a new generation of innovators to believe that they can change the world."

Submission Directions

The Z-Fund for the 2016 - 2017 school year has been fully awarded. Applications will not be accepted for the Z-Fund until the fund re-opens for the 2017 - 2018 academic year. Please check this web page in August of 2017 for further information and instructions on submitting your application.


  • CWRU Affiliation: Your team must include at least one co-founder and co-owner who is an active degree-seeking CWRU undergraduate or graduate student, and a majority of the ownership of the company must be CWRU affiliated persons such as students or alumni.
  • Original Work: Submissions must be the original work of the submitting team.
  • Ready for Commercialization: Your venture must have already laid the ground work for commercialization. This could include having a working prototype, a market research report, or other foundational work as appropriate for the venture.
  • One Entry Per Person Per Year: Apply wisely.
  • Previous award winners are eligible to apply


  • Awards are available from $2,500 to $25,000 per project
  • Award amounts will be determined by the Review Committee
  • The funds are intended to provide resources for materials, equipment, manufacturing costs, consulting fees, travel costs, rent, and any other strictly business related expenses

Project Reporting

Student(s) must submit an interim and final report by the following dates:

  • Interim Reports due April 1, 2018, or by applicant's graduation date, whichever comes first: A 2-page Interim Report must be submitted by email to by this date. The report must include:
    • A list of project participants and their affiliation
    • A description of the project goals and the progress to date
    • A spreadsheet or table showing a summary of expenditures to date
    • Scans of all receipts indicated on the spreadsheet
  • Final Reports due August 1, 2018, or by applicant's graduation date, whichever comes first: A 3-page Final Report must be submitted by email to by this date. The report must include:
    • A list of project participants and their affiliation
    • A description of the completed project
    • A page of photographs showing the development of the project
    • Results from any competition(s), or presentations
    • A spreadsheet or table showing a summary of expenditures
    • Scans of all receipts indicated on the spreadsheet

Proposal Review Process

A committee will review all proposals and applicants will be notified by email as to the status of their application. Proposals will be considered under the following criteria:

  • SMART Goals: Has your team selected goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound?
  • Technical Feasibility: Can your team realistically reach the goals you set out given the team's existing skillset?
  • Monetary Feasibility: Is the requested funding appropriate for the project goals?
  • Market Feasibility: Does the committee believe this venture has a market where the venture could ultimately be successful? 

Review Committee

The review committee consists of:

  • Ian Charnas, Manager, Sears think[box]
  • Michael Goldberg, Professor, Weatherhead School of Management
  • Joe Jankowski, Chief Innovation Officer, CWRU
  • Bob Sopko, Director, CWRU LaunchNet
  • Ted Theofrastous, Managing Attorney, CWRU IP Venture Clinic

Fund Administration

Receiving an award from the Z-Fund provides a valuable learning and life-skills opportunity for students to develop and experience a number of critical professional practices that include: project planning and management, budget ownership and management, fiscal responsibility, and professional reporting. Therefore, students who are awarded funds will receive checks for the awards and be fully responsible for their use and management. Students are expected to keep accurate financial records, and a summary of transactions plus scanned receipts must be included in the interim and final reports. Please be aware that monetary awards may be taxable. Please consult a tax professional if you have questions.

Fund Disbursement

Before disbursement can begin, award recipients will be required to sign an agreement indicating acceptance of terms outlined for the Z-Fund. Award receipients will then receive a check for 50% of the total award value. A check for the remaining 50% of the total award will be awarded after completion of the interim reporting requirements. When the final report is due, students must return unspent or undocumented funds to think[box] via a check made payable to "Case Western Reserve University" delivered to think[box] Department Assistant Ruth D'Emilia in RMB (Richey Mixon Building) room 221.

Intellectual Property (IP) Disclaimer

The Z-Fund claims no ownership of intellectual property created by applicants. All intellectual property and other business property will remain owned by the applicants.