Michigan Translational Research & Commercialization Program

Innovation Hub For Advanced Applied Materials

2018 Request For Proposals & Submission Process


Important DatesA researcher gives a talk about his research.

  • January 19, 2018: One-page Letter of Intent (LOI) due via e-mail to Brenda Da Costa no later than 6:00 p.m. at

  • February 14, 2018: Invitations sent to researchers to submit full proposals from selected LOIs.

  • March 16, 2018: Full Proposals due to Brenda Da Costa no later than 6:00 p.m.
  • April 11, 2018: Invitations to Investigators for Oral Presentation to the Oversight Committee.
  • May 10, 2018: Oral proposal presentations to the Oversite Committee.
    Award announcements will be made shortly thereafter.
  • July 1, 2018: Selected projects will begin
  • October 8, 2018, January 14, 2018, April 8, 2018, August 5, 2019: Operational Review by Oversight Committee (subject to final scheduling)

Program Description

The Michigan Translational Research & Commercialization (MTRAC) program is sponsored by the 21st Century Jobs Fund through the Michigan Strategic Fund and administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to support collaborative translational research projects led by teams of researchers, and business advisors as needed. The mission of the MTRAC Innovation Hub at Michigan Tech is to advance materials-based technologies that address poorly met market needs into commercial development. Examples of desirable translational research goals and outcomes include achieving specific milestones on the path to commercializing systems, materials, processing technologies, or devices which serve a well-documented market need. Proposals may address demonstration projects, prototype development, or process scale up that is necessary to attract follow-on funding from third parties.

Where there is any question regarding which of the statewide MTRAC Innovation Hubs is most appropriate to support development of a technology Michigan Tech welcomes projects related to:

  • Novel materials
  • Novel applications of conventional materials
  • Equipment or processes that enable the application of either A)novel materials, b) conventional materials for novel purpose
  • Technologies where the composition of the Michigan Tech Oversight Committee is best suited to assist in guiding commercialization strategies

Examples of previously supported technologies include:

  • Nanowires that form a key element in the detection of foodborne pathogens
  • Porous carbon electrodes for use in a blood hematocrit detection device
  • TiO2 nanotubes etched on orthopedic implants to improve bone adhesion
  • Carbon nanotubes used in an active noise control system for military and passenger vehicles
  • A photonic modulator to improve the data transfer capacity of radio frequency / fiber optic systems
  • Development of an artificial enzyme to improve medical diagnostic tests
  • Organic nanowires as gas sensors
  • Ceramic material for solid-state batteries

Assistance with business development will be provided by Brenda Da Costa, MTRAC Commercialization Program Director and members of the Oversight Committee who are active in relevant commercial sectors. PIs are expected to commit to regular meetings with the Commercialization Program Director and quarterly meetings with the Oversight Committee. Cooperating institutional support in the preparation of program reports will be required on a six month basis to consolidate financial reporting to MEDC. Additionally, entrepreneurial training to improve applications and the ultimate commercialization outcome will be available to applicants through additional MEDC support.


Eligibility Criteria

All proposals must relate to an advanced material technology previously disclosed to the office responsible for technology transfer at a Michigan state research university, hospital, or non-profit research center with a designated technology transfer office such as Michigan Tech’s office of Innovation & Industry Engagement.  A commercial application must be identified for the technology. The PI must be willing to become involved in initial and follow-on business development activities such as customer discovery, competitive analysis, follow-on funding development, proprietary protection strategies and assessment of the intellectual property landscape surrounding the technology.  Such activities are critical to the success of the program so awards will be limited to applicants willing to commit to participation in such programs.  Licensed technology is not eligible for MTRAC funding though optioned technology is eligible.


Budget Period and Amount

Proposal funds are granted for a one-year period subject to milestone achievement. Budgets are anticipated to range from $30K-50K of direct costs per year.  Matching funds (1:1) are required of each project.

Frequently Asked Questions 


What is the Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization Innovation Hub?

The MTRAC program was modeled after a successful commercialization process developed by the Wallace H. Coulter foundation to promote commercialization of medical devices through the collaboration of Biomedical Engineers with medical clinicians to solve specific problems. The MTRAC program is designed to de-risk a given technology as rapidly as possible to attract subsequent rounds of development funding. The process depends upon close involvement of an Oversight Committee which actually selects the projects and a strong understanding of the customer need addressed by the technology.  


What kind of projects will be funded?

Michigan Tech’s Innovation Hub is focused on commercializing technologies related to advanced applied materials. To support commercial development the projects should include unique intellectual property as evidenced by an invention disclosure on file with the university’s office of Innovation & Industry Engagement that clearly states the invention’s novel features and target market. A key element in the project selection process is demonstration that the technology has the potential to fulfill an unmet need in a market of commercial significance. PI’s should be able to clearly describe a path to commercialization.


What will budgets for selected projects be like?

A typical project might include total funding in the range of $60,000 - $100,000 which would include 1:1 matching funding comprising 50% of the total project budget. Indirect costs of up to 15% of the MTRAC award portion may be requested. Indirect costs cannot be counted as matching funds. Faculty release time, relevant federal support dollars or outside investment qualify as matching funds. University internal funding would also qualify as matching funds. Budgets should address milestones that de-risk a technology in preparation for follow-on investment. Researchers are strongly encouraged to discuss budget development with the Commercialization Program Director prior to submission.


Who will determine what projects are funded?

Projects are selected by the ten-person Oversight Committee. The committee contains venture capitalists, materials experts from various fields, and successful entrepreneurs.


What further role will the MTRAC Oversight Committee play after project selection?

Oversight Committee Members are expected to help mentor selected projects so that project milestones are met and to provide quarterly guidance.


What is the proposal submission process?

The proposal process is a three stage evaluation. The Oversight Committee will first review a short letter of intent after the submission deadline of March 31, 2017. Based on the LOI, the Committee will invite five page proposals that explain the technology and proposed path to commercialization. Based on a review of the full proposals the Committee will invite PIs to make a personal presentation in the final stage of the process. After the personal presentation final project selections will be made.


What are the selection criteria?

A materials based solution to a commercial problem, a credible and actionable path to commercialization, protectable intellectual property, and the willingness of the PI to engage in commercialization activities.

Proposal Submission Guideline, Templates, & Forms

Proposal submission is a two-stage process. Step 1 is to submit a one-page Letter of Intent (LOI).

Selected projects will then be invited to submit a Full Proposal.

Proposal Instructions

Budget Worksheet (for Michigan Tech applicants)

Budget Worksheet & Signature Form (for non-Michigan Tech applicants)