UIC OTM 2012 Proof of Concept Gap Funding Initiative

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█ Program Overview

 

The UIC Office of Technology Management (OTM) is pleased to launch the Second Round of the 2012 Proof of Concept Gap Funding Initiative, a program aimed at helping to advance UIC inventions towards commercialization. This initiative includes $500,000 in funding for projects that will help reduce the technical or commercial risks related to UIC inventions and improve the chances that these inventions can become successfully commercialized. Funding for the 2012 Proof of Concept Gap Funding Initiative is provided by the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, the Colleges of Engineering, Medicine and Pharmacy, and the Office of Technology Management.

The Proof of Concept Gap Funding Initiative will award grants of up to $75,000 for selected projects, however, it is anticipated that most projects will be funded at a lower level. Additional information on program eligibility requirements, proposal submission, review process, and the review criteria are summarized below.

KEY DATES:

  • Pre-Proposal Submission Deadline:  September 26th, 2012 (5PM CST)
  • Invitation to Submit Full-Proposals Sent Out:  October 15th
  • Draft Proposal Due:  Week of October 29th
  • Slides Outline / Draft:  Week of November 5th
  • First Mock Pitch:  Week of November 12th
  • Second Mock Pitch:  Week of November 26th
  • Presentation to Committee:  December 6th
  • Full Proposal Submission Deadline:  November 16th (5PM CST)
  • Presentation Slides Submission Deadline:  November 30th
  • Awards Announced: Week of December 10th
  • Funding Released / Projects to Start:  Beginning of January 2013

RELATED DOCUMENTS:

Questions regarding the POC Initiative should be addressed to your OTM Tech Manager or by e-mailing the OTM at pocgrant@uic.edu. You can also call the OTM office at (312) 996-7018.

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█ Background

 

This initiative is modeled after a novel early stage funding approach being adopted by many universities across the US and is aimed at helping faculty inventions “bridge” the funding gap that is often encountered when a technology tries to move from the basic research arena into the commercial development realm. Discoveries resulting from basic research conducted at universities typically require further development to reach important milestones that are critical to commercial development. It is well documented that many novel and innovative university-based technologies fail to reach these milestones that bridge the gap (also known as the “valley of death”) between research and commercialization. Proof of concept gap funding initiatives are a way to help faculty members refine and answer important questions about their inventions that may otherwise be left unexplored due to lack of funding. The ultimate goal of gap funding is to both technically and commercially “de-risk” an invention such that it becomes a more attractive technology for either: (1) attracting further development funding, (2) licensing to an existing company, or (3) providing the intellectual property around which an entirely new company can be formed.

 

█ Eligibility Criteria

 

  • The Principal Investigator or Project Coordinator must be a full-time UIC faculty member.
  • An invention disclosure, upon which the project is based, must be on file with the OTM prior to the Pre-Proposal submission deadline of September 26, 2012 (5PM CST).
  • The technology which provides the basis for the project proposal must not yet be licensed or optioned.
  • The intellectual property (IP) surrounding the invention disclosure must be owned by the University of Illinois. Please contact the Office of Technology Management if you are unsure of the intellectual property ownership of your invention. If IP is jointly owned with another institution, an inter-institutional agreement (IIA) must be in place with UIC designated as the commercialization lead.
  • Investigators may only submit one project for POC funding. Investigators with multiple technology disclosures on file with the OTM should focus their proposal on the most advanced and commercially promising technology within their portfolio.
  • The proposed project must be focused on a current invention disclosure on file with the OTM and should address how achieving identified project milestones will move that invention towards commercialization. Proof of concept funding cannot be used for basic exploratory studies or as general funding for the Principal Investigator's lab. It is anticipated that part, or all of the funding granted will be used outside of the Principal Investigator’s lab on studies to enhance the commercial value of the technology.

 

█ Submission and Review Process Overview

 

The submission of proposals for the Proof of Concept Gap Funding Initiative will consist of a two-stage process.

Submission of a Pre-Proposal Application Form, which includes a short two page narrative, will be required of all Investigators interested in applying for Proof of Concept Funding. Instructions on how to complete and submit a Pre-Proposal Application are detailed in the "Stage 1" section below.

Pre-Proposals will be reviewed and scored by a University Review Committee composed of Research Deans and select delegates assembled from across the UIC campus. Scoring of Pre-Proposals will be based upon the potential of the proposed project to commercially advance the technology, the market attractiveness of the technology and the ability to build a strong intellectual property (IP) position to protect the technology. In addition, a limited number of discretionary points may be awarded to projects which seek to collaborate with the UIC Innovation Center and/or the recently launched UIC Centre (Collaborative Engagement in Novel Therapeutic Research and Enterprise) focused on drug discovery and development. The hope is that by engaging multiple, intracampus departments and units within efforts such as the POC Initiative, the foundation for innovation and entrepreneurial growth at UIC will continue to be strengthened.

Once the University Review Committee completes its scoring of the Pre-Proposal applications, a limited number of investigators will be invited to participate in Stage 2 of the process and submit Full Proposal applications. Only those investigators who are invited to submit full grant proposals will be eligible to do so. The POC Review Committee will only review and score full proposals that have been invited to participate in Stage 2 of the submission process.

Review of Full Proposal applications will be conducted by an OTM-assembled Proof of Concept (POC) Review Committee composed of venture capitalists, business leaders and technology innovators. Proposals will be reviewed and scored for technological soundness and project impact, strength of the intellectual property and the market and commercial attractiveness of the technology. In addition, investigators will be required to prepare a short 15 minute PowerPoint "pitch" presentation, in collaboration with their OTM Tech Manager, to "sell" the commercial potential of their technology to the assembled review panel. The Committee will consider both the strength of the written proposal as well as the investigator’s vision and passion for the project, as conveyed through the PowerPoint presentation, in determining their scoring. Those projects scoring highest and deemed most competitive by the Review Committee will be selected for funding.


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▀ Stage 1 - Pre-Proposal Application Submission

 

Submission of a Pre-Proposal Application Form, which includes a short two page narrative, is required of all investigators who wish to be considered for Proof of Concept Funding. Pre-Proposal Applications must be submitted to the Office of Technology Management by September 26, 2012 (5PM CST).

The Pre-Proposal two page narrative should succinctly address the following:


A. PROJECT DESCRIPTION / SPECIFIC MILESTONES

  1. Introduce the problem present in the marketplace that your technology addresses.
  2. Present a high-level overview of your technology and how it will address the problem above.
  3. Describe your proposed project, being sure to focus on how successful completion of the project will advance your technology from a commercialization perspective.
  4. Present 2 or 3 discrete milestones that will be used to track the progress of the project over the course of the funding period. Milestones should be logically ordered such that successful completion of one milestone triggers work to begin on the next milestone. Funding for POC projects is milestone based and is released in tranches, so a milestone must be successfully achieved before the next tranche of funding is authorized.

 

B. PROJECT IMPACT

  1. Identify current technical or commercial risks associated with your technology that your proposed project will be able to address, and thus significantly impact the commercial potential of the technology.
  2. If your proposed POC project is successfully completed, describe how the commercial competitiveness of your technology will have been increased.

 

C. COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

  1. Describe an envisioned end product based on your technology and the market it will compete in.
  2. What will differentiate (“better / faster / cheaper”) your technology in the marketplace and create a competitive advantage for your product?
  3. Provide any industry-specific feedback you have received on the competitive advantage of your technology and its ability to fulfill an unmet need in the marketplace.

 

D. APPENDIX (OPTIONAL)

  1. Maximum, one page appendix (PDF or Word format) with any supporting data or references cited in the narrative may be included.

 

A Pre-Proposal Application form can be downloaded by CLICKING HERE.


PRE-PROPOSALS MUST BE SUBMITTED ELECTRONICALLY

TO pocgrant@uic.edu BY

SEPTEMBER 26, 2012 (5PM CST).



► Questions to consider before submitting:

  • Is my technology at a stage in its development where POC funds will retire technical or commercial risks and make the technology more attractive to potential licensees or to attract additional third party funding?
  • Is there a clear vision for an eventual product that will arise out of my technology?
  • Are there any intellectual property (IP) issues surrounding my invention? What is the strength of my IP, its defensibility, its ability to generate new IP?
  • Does my technology address an unmet need in the marketplace or possess a competitive advantage over other products?

 

► Can the OTM provide guidance in preparing my proposal?

Investigators are highly encouraged to schedule a meeting with their OTM Tech Manager to discuss their proposed project prior to submitting a Pre-Proposal Application. This meeting will help generate ideas for creating a competitive proposal and will also allow for a discussion on whether a project or technology may be too early-stage for POC funding. In addition, investigators who are chosen to submit Full Proposals for POC funding will work in close collaboration with their OTM Tech Manager in preparing both their written project narrative and PowerPoint presentation, which they will jointly present before the Proof of Concept (POC) Review Committee.

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▀ Stage 2 - Full Proposal Application Submission

 

As stated previously, a Committee of UIC Research Deans and select campus delegates will review and score all the Pre-Proposal applications received and then choose those Investigators who will be invited to submit Full Proposal applications for POC funding. Only those investigators who are invited to submit Full Proposal applications will be eligible to submit such proposals. Any proposals submitted without an invitation will not be reviewed.

A Full Proposal template will be provided in Microsoft Word format to each investigator invited to submit a Full Proposal application. Investigators are expected to work in close collaboration with their OTM Tech Manager in developing and writing their Full Proposal narrative and preparing their PowerPoint pitch presentation.

A complete, written Full Proposal should include the following:

I. SUMMARY

Maximum 200 word concise high-level summary which highlights the novelty of the technology, its commercial attractiveness, project goals and anticipated next steps. This summary should be primarily non-technical and may be posted on the OTM website if the project is funded.

 

II. PROJECT NARRATIVE:

Maximum 5 page narrative to address the following:

A. Project Description

  1. Opportunity: Succinct overview of your project and the opportunity you are trying to seize in the marketplace.

  2. Research Plan: Present your research plan as a series of discrete and logical milestones that will allow you to achieve your overall project goal.

  3. Project Team: List all UIC personnel and any outside collaborators / contractors who will contribute to the project.

B. Intellectual Property Assessment

  1. Detail the current IP covering the technology.
  2. Present any identified prior art in the IP space and describe any potential implications for protecting the current technology.
  3. What is the likelihood that the current IP will cover the envisioned end product?

C. Market Assessment

  1. Provide an overview of the market where your envisioned end product will compete.
  2. What is the current unmet need in that market?
  3. Present the competitive advantages of your envisioned end product over currently marketed technologies competing in the same space.

D. Project Impact

  1. Describe how successful completion of your proposed POC project will improve the commercial potential of your technology.
  2. Describe the next steps you plan to take following completion of the POC project to continue the commercial advancement of your technology.

 

III. BUDGET JUSTIFICATION

Maximum 1 page, detailed, line-item description of how funds will be allocated for the proposed study. Funds are only to be used to further commercial development of the specified technology and are not to be used as general laboratory funding.

 

IV. APPENDIX

Maximum 5 page appendix which can include a list of references cited in the proposal, data/graphs, any other financial support that can be leveraged to complete the studies proposed, any letters of support and/or biographical sketches of key personnel involved in the project.

 

FULL-PROPOSALS MUST BE SUBMITTED ELECTRONICALLY

TO pocgrant@uic.edu BY

NOVEMBER 9, 2012 (5PM CST)


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█ Application Evaluation Criteria

 

Proposals for funding will be scored based upon the following criteria:

  • Project Impact: Does the proposed project bridge an identified gap in the investigator’s research
    program and effectively “de-risk” his or her technology to a point where that technology becomes more
    likely to generate follow-on funding (SBIR/STTR, VC/Angel) or to attract a commercial partner / licensee?
    Is there a well-defined commercial end product envisioned for the investigator’s technology and how will
    completion of this POC project move that end product closer to the marketplace? What are the qualifications
    and strengths of the investigator(s) with respect to the proposed studies? Are the studies proposed technically
    achievable within 12–18 months and can they be achieved with the requested budget?

Project Impact will be given a weight of 40% in the scoring of proposals.

  • Intellectual Property and Prior Art Summary: Are there any issued patents currently covering the
    technology, or patents pending on the technology? Are there any impediments in the ability to patent or
    protect the intellectual property around the technology? The IP review will look at the difference between
    potential claims for the current technology and existing literature and patents. The review will also examine
    other patented or available technologies and the type and strength of patent claims that will likely be
    available.

Intellectual Property and Prior Art Summary will be given a weight of 30% in the scoring of proposals.

  • Market Attractiveness and Commercialization Strengths: A review of the market for the end product which could result from the intellectual property will be conducted, as well as an assessment of what resources will be required to develop the technology for commercialization. The market attractiveness assessment will incorporate the estimated size and growth potential of the market, the unmet need in the marketplace and the level of impact the technology will have on the market in which it will compete. Any commercialization issues that may affect the value of the technology from the perspective of potential licensees will be identified.

Market Attractiveness & Commercialization Strengths will be given a weight of 30% in the scoring of proposals.

 

█ Award Funding


Proof of Concept Gap Funding Initiative grants are anticipated to be awarded in the range of $25,000 - $75,000 over a 12-18 month period. A maximum of $75,000 in funding can be requested under this initiative, however, it is anticipated that most projects will be funded at a lower level. Funding is only allocable to commercial product development or testing. Funds cannot be used as general support for the Investigator’s lab. Grants are intended to only provide reimbursement for project related expenses and cannot be used to provide salaries for Principal Investigators, or to pay patent costs or for other legal fees. Funding may be used to provide salary support for post-docs, graduate or undergraduate students involved in the project.

For projects which are funded under this initiative, it is expected that funds will be released by the beginning of January-2013, however, there are no assurances that funds will be released by this time. As a result, investigators must not spend any funds prior to those funds having been released into the investigator’s account. POC funding is not released as a lump sum, but rather is contingent upon reaching specified milestones set forth in the project proposal.

 

█ Post-Award Funding Obligations

Funded projects will be required to submit brief, written updates to the OTM following the achievement of project milestones in order to trigger the next tranche of funding to be released into the investigator's account. Continued project funding is dependent upon the successful achievement of project milestones set forth in the Full Proposal narrative. In addition, a brief final report should be submitted at the end of the grant period summarizing the milestones achieved and the next steps the investigator is likely to pursue in the commercial development of his or her technology. This information will help provide the OTM with insights as to whether gap funding is allowing UIC technologies to bridge the commercialization gap and opening up new opportunities for these technologies that may otherwise not have been available without such funding.

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