Research Excellence Fund (REF) - Commercialization Milestone Grant (CMG)

Proposal Information

Budget and Proposal Deadline: Rolling deadline. To insure projects can be undertaken in time to meet commercial opportunities proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis subject to the availability of funds. Contact Mike Morley at to discuss your proposal prior to submission.

Program Description

Commercialization Milestone grants (CMG) are designed to provide faculty and student inventors a means to achieve a specific step or steps toward de-risking, or other tangible demonstrations of commercial viability of an early stage technology. Funded projects will typically focus on specific milestones within a step-wise progression designed to demonstrate how the early stage technology provides a viable solution to a validated market opportunity. Milestone success must be part of the plan to attract additional funding capable of bringing a product from its current stage into the private market. CMG serve as stepping stones toward complementary or follow-on commercialization funding such as the Michigan Tech M-TRAC program, STTR/SBIR awards, I-Corps, Superior Innovations, Technology Transfer Talent Network or other appropriate programs. Investigators are expected to have a clear understanding of the customers their technology could serve as well as the relationship of their technology to competing technologies and solutions currently used to address the identified market opportunity. Projects will be closely monitored on a regular basis by the Office of Innovation and Commercialization to be sure that funds and efforts are being promptly applied to meet project milestones.

To insure projects can be undertaken in time to meet commercial opportunities proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis subject to the availability of funds. Proposals may request up to $20,000 but more modest proposals are likely to be more competitive. Unexpended funds at the end of the project period will revert to the CMG pool.

Project Eligibility

To be eligible for a Commercialization Milestone Grant the technology to be commercialized must be the subject of an invention disclosure submitted to the Office of Innovation & Commercialization by Michigan Tech faculty, staff, or students. The technology should present opportunities for proprietary protection that provide for a sustainable competitive advantage against competing alternatives.

Prior to formal submission, pre-proposals must be screened and approved for submission by Mike Morley or 7-2228. This review will insure the proposal adequately addresses the evaluation criteria discussed below.

Technology which has been licensed to commercial partners of Michigan Tech is not eligible for the program. While graduate students and post-docs can be engaged through project funds to complete specific technical tasks the program will not provide tuition support and is not intended to provide extended post-doc support. Nor does the program provide faculty summer support. Projects that are not making good faith efforts to meet milestones are subject to loss of funding.

Evaluation of Proposals

Commercialization Milestone proposals will be evaluated on:

  • Documentation of a commercially significant problem the technology solves.
  • An understanding of the market and customer segments the technology is designed to serve.
  • Feasibility of accomplishing the proposed milestones within the planned time frame and budget.
  • Relationship of the milestones to be addressed to a feasible commercialization plan.
  • The likelihood that successful milestone completion will provide a foundation for follow-on funding and identification of specific and actionable opportunities for such funding.
  • Contribution to the achievement of the University and strategic plans.

Proposal Format

All proposals must include a completed Required Elements Checklist—CMG 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. When putting together your proposal package, follow the order on the Required Elements Checklist.

The proposal must be formatted according to the following guidelines or it will be returned without review:

  • Times New Roman font at a font size of 12 point. A smaller but legible font size may be used for mathematical formulas, equations, figures, tables, or diagram captions. 
  • Margins in all directions must be at least one inch.
  • The proposal must be single spaced.
  • Page numbers should be placed at the bottom center of each page with the exception of attachments.

Please adhere to all guidelines including the proposal format.

Budget Information

Budgets, budget justifications, quotes, and cost share forms (if cost share is used) must be reviewed and approved by the Sponsored Programs Office prior to final submission.

  • Proposed budgets should be clear and detailed, and must fully justify all expenditures.
  • If you are requesting equipment that is more than $5,000, quotes must be provided.
  • If you are requesting travel support over $1,500, quotes must be provided.
  • The F&A rate on all REF budgets is 0%.
  • Please use this provided budget spreadsheet to complete your budget.

Unallowable Expenditures

  • External and sponsored research as cost share.
  • Faculty salary (including summer salary and academic release time).
  • Graduate student support (stipend, tuition, hourly, etc). Hourly graduate student support is ONLY allowed during the summer semester.
  • Publication expenses.

Student Support Limitations

  • Undergraduate support is allowable and needs to be clearly justified in the proposal.
  • Hourly graduate student support is ONLY allowable during the summer semester.

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).

Budget Submission

Please submit all of your budget materials and completed Cost Share/Matching Support Authorization Form to

Submission Requirements

Once written approval has been secured, please submit one pdf file of your complete proposal package, which follows the order on the Required Elements Checklist, to Mike Morley at and

Award Modifications

If you need to make a modification to your CMG award end date or budget, please send a completed Request for Modification Form via email to 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.