Technology Commercialization Grants

Budget Deadline: February 27, 2015
Proposal Deadline: March 5, 2015

Program Description

The REF Technology Commercialization (REF-TC) Grants were initiated through a gift from John and Ruanne Opie. REF-TC Grants are designed to provide faculty, staff, and students with resources to support the initial steps toward commercialization of technologies developed at the University. In particular, REF-TC Grants are intended to fund activities that are outside the scope of existing academic research funding programs but that are too early in the development process for commercialization funding programs such as SBIR. Funded projects typically focus on early state commercial development, such as for example, proof-of-concept, or otherwise developing a technology to a point where it can be the focus of a competitive SBIR Phase I proposal. Activities related to testing and validation of the market need or interest in the technology may also be supported, as might other activities that are beyond the scope of internal support resources and are designed to lead to successful commercialization, licensing, or creation of a start up company. A PI may only submit one proposal per category. REF-TC Grants may be up to $25,000, are limited to a one-year award period, and can not be extended. Unexpended funds at the end of the project period will revert to the REF pool.

Evaluation of Proposals

REF-TC proposals will be evaluated on:

  1. The plan for market assessment and commercialization of the technology and description of how REF funding is critical to that plan.
  2. Competitive advantages and the distinction of the technology proposed for commercialization over alternatives in development or currently in the marketplace.
  3. The likelihood of leading to future funding or to support further commercial development of the technology.
  4. The likelihood that the proposed activities would not be competitive or eligible for funding under other academic research or commercialization funding programs.
  5. Matching funds are not required; however evidence of a third party commitment to participate in commercial development of the technology needs to be clear in the proposal. Such commitment can be in the form of matching funds, follow-on funding, or in-kind support. Reasoning for a lack of such commitment should be provided if none is present.

The following criteria will also be used to evaluate submissions:

Technical Maturity: Is there theoretical or empirical evidence that shows the technology will perform as expected?
Entrepreneurial Maturity: Has the PI shown commitment to participating in activities necessary for commercialization beyond early stage laboratory discovery? Has the PI assembled a team of collaborators, advisors, or mentors, with complementary experiences and backgrounds that will enable commercial progress in addition to technical progress?
Actionability: Does the proposal present a reasonable plan to achieve important and specifically identifiable technical advancements that are on a path to market entry or licensee recruitment?
Licensability: Does the technology present opportunities for distinct market advantage that leverages an existing or prospective proprietary position for technical (i.e. solving a market problem that has never been solved before) or economic benefit (i.e. solving a problem that has been solved before but is substantially cheaper, better, or faster than alternatives)? Can prospective customers be specifically identified?

Proposal Format

All proposals must include a completed Required Elements Checklist—TC to ensure all necessary documents have been submitted. Please review this checklist prior to writing your proposal as it explains the requirements and page limits. With an expectation of a heavy volume of submission for this competition, please adhere to all guidelines, including the proposal format.

Budgets

Proposed budgets should be clear and detailed, and must fully justify all expenditures. There will be no indirect costs assessed on REF projects. If a budget contains cost share, it must be shown on the budget form.

Please submit your Budget and completed Cost Share/Matching Support Authorization Form to Carol Wiitanen (cawiitan@mtu.edu or 487-2225).

Cost Share

All cost share is to be disclosed in the budget justification and shown on the budget worksheet. You must also submit a completed Cost Share Authorization form (which is located on the Banner Self Service Site).

Unallowable Expenditures

  • Faculty salary support (including summer salary) is unallowable on all REF Awards.
  • Faculty, staff, and temporary salary support is unallowable on all REF Awards.
  • Graduate student support (stipend, tuition, hourly, etc) is unallowable on all REF Awards. Hourly graduate student support is allowed during the summer semester.
  • Faculty release time

Invention Disclosure Form

An Invention Disclosure Form must be submitted as per the Required Elements Checklist—TC. A copy must also be submitted to Jim Baker (jrbaker@mtu.edu).  

Letters of Support and Submission Requirements

Letters of support from the department chair(s) or school dean(s) must be included and address the significance of the project, the sources of funds available to the project at this stage, and the prospect for future funding after the completion. The letter must address the scholarly and commercial implications of the project and the significance of the proposal for the applicant’s professional development. This letter must discuss the University resources (incentive accounts, Tech Fund, etc.) available to support the project, and how the department/school might support the proposal. 

  • Please submit the Required Elements Checklist, Transmittal Form, and Proposal as one pdf file to ref-l@mtu.edu.
  • Obtain letter of support from the appropriate Chair, Center/Institute Director, or School Dean and include with the final proposal.

Award Modifications

If you need to make a modification to your REF award end date or budget, please send a completed Request for Modification Form (see resources box on this page) via email to refmod-l@mtu.edu. The form should provide a justification for the requested change and be signed by the required individuals. Please send the document as a PDF file.