Michigan Translational Research & Commercialization Program

Innovation Hub For Advanced Applied Materials

2017 Request For Proposals & Submission Process

Important Dates

  • March 31,2017: One-page Letter of Intent (LOI) due via e-mail to John Diebel no later than 6:00 p.m. at

  • April 19, 2017: Invitations sent to researchers to submit full proposals from selected LOIs.

  • May 19, 2017: Full Proposals due to John Diebel no later than 6:00 p.m.
  • June 16, 2017: Invitations to Investigators for Oral Presentation to the Oversight Committee.
  • July 13, 2017: Oral proposal presentations to the Oversite Committee.
    Award announcements will be made shortly thereafter.
  • August 1, 2017: Selected projects will begin
  • October 23, 2017, January 23, 2018, April 23, 2018, August 20, 2018: Operational Review by Oversight Committee (subject to final scheduling)

Program Description

The Michigan Translational Research & Commercialization (MTRAC) program is sponsored by the Michigan Strategic Fund / Michigan Economic Development Corporation and supports collaborative translational research projects led by teams of researchers, and business advisors as needed, working in the area of advanced applied materials. The mission of this program is to advance materials-based technologies into commercial development that address poorly met market needs. 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.

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

Assistance with business development will be provided by John Diebel, 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.

Training Opportunities to Improve Likelihood of an Award

In conjunction with the University of Michigan and MEDC, Michigan Tech will be offering entrepreneurial training during the proposal selection process designed to improve the project design and presentation. The intent of these training opportunities is to assist faculty researchers in understanding the nuances that make commercialization efforts different from other research projects they have been involved with. Participation in I-Corps customer discovery training has been documented in the University of Michigan MTRAC Transportation Program to increase the likelihood of an MTRAC award by 3X. The National Science Foundation has documented similar results for I-Corps participation in award success in their SBIR/STTR programs. Customer discovery skills also increase the probability of ultimate commercial success. The offered training for MTRAC is modeled on I-Corps training to deliver similar skills in a compressed time frame.

Training Session Key Dates

All training sessions will be offered remotely to off-campus applicants

 March 23, 2017    4:00 – 5:00 pm 
How to Present a Business Problem
This one hour session discusses how researchers can effectively focus on “what problem they solve” in the Letter Of Intent rather than the specifics of the technological solution. Please register for this training session by filling out the brief contact form, which can be found here.

 April 21, 2017    1:00 - 5:00 pm 
Customer Discovery Series Kickoff
This four hour session will kick off a three week exposure to the process of customer discovery to determine real customer needs, framing a value proposition and understanding the business ecosystem that will affect commercial development of a technology. A wrap up session will take place at 1:00 pm May 12.
Please register by no later than Friday, April 14 HERE

 July 10, 2017    3:00 – 5:00 pm
Presentation Delivery/Story Telling
This session is designed as a final preparation to pitch to the MTRAC Oversight Committee.  Trial runs and discussions of milestone development will be offered.

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 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.




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)