Statement of Purpose
The Office of the Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer will invest funds to advance the development of novel applied technologies that have near-term potential for licensing and commercialization. The Technology Gap Fund is not intended to support basic research, but rather it will support activities to advance technologies through the development of prototypes or through final proof of concept that have already demonstrated potential commercial appeal and for which the university has applied for IP protection in the form of a non-provisional patent application (NPA) or Patent Cooperation Treaty application (PCT). The Technology Gap Fund is designed to facilitate an inventor’s ability to leverage external funding and to serve as a bridge toward product development and commercialization.
Faculty and staff at all University of Houston system campuses who have filed a non-provisional patent application (NPA) or a Patent Cooperation Treaty application (PCT) through the Office of Intellectual Property Management (OIPM) in the past seven academic years can compete for funding through this program. Proposed work must be accomplished within 12 months of funding.
Review and Evaluation/Selection Criteria
Interested parties must submit an intent to submit by January 19, 2016 to firstname.lastname@example.org. In this email, please include the PIs name, the NPA or PCT number, and a very brief description of the technology. Final proposals are due by February 15, 2016. All submissions must be received electronically. The review process will be carried out within six weeks of the proposal submission date. Funding decisions will be made within an additional two weeks of the end of the review process. The overall proposal review process consists of independent review by two separate groups, one a sub-committee of the Intellectual Property Committee, the other a panel which will include internal technical and business reviewers and external reviewers (venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and other members from the business community) with expertise in each area, e.g., health, energy, etc. An aggregate score for each proposal will be generated using the independent scores provided by each of the two review panels. The primary criteria that will be used for evaluation of proposals by reviewers include the likelihood of commercial success of the technology and anticipated need for additional funds to bring the product to market.
Awards will be up to $50,000. No indirect costs are allowed.
Proposal Preparation Guidelines
Requests for Technology Gap funding can be made only after the decision to convert to an NPA has been made. An electronic application is available on SharePoint (LINK). Please contact Shaheen Lokhandwala if you need assistance with the SharePoint website. The application will follow the following guidelines:
A number of questions that will include a description of the technology, current market and applications for the technology, benefits of this technology in the market, state of the research, etc. Please note and stay within the word count guidelines for each question.
A budget worksheet that will ask for detailed and itemized expenditures for the Gap Funds.
Supplemental material of no more than 3 pages to further describe the technology and present tables, figures, and prototype images. Please remember that many of the reviewers are not scientists, so it is recommended that the description is as simple as possible.
Budget and Justification
Budget expenditures encumbered before the award date will not be reimbursed.
Student Wages. Student stipends are allowed; however funding for student tuition or tuition scholarships (waivers) are not permitted. The role and/or task of any personnel on the project should be defined in the justification. This explanation is particularly true for any graduate students employed on the project.
Faculty Stipends. All salaries proposed must be fully explained and justified. Summer salary support for faculty is not normally allowed. Faculty members on 12-month appointments or on sabbatical leave are ineligible for summer salary support.
Other salaries. Visiting faculty members are ineligible for salary support. Salaries for office/administrative staff are not allowed.
Equipment or fabrication costs: In cases where reduction to practice requires a one-time cost to fabricate or produce a working prototype, the investigator should specifically indicate fabrication costs, location of the facilities where the fabrication will occur, and time required to produce the working prototype.
Travel. Any travel funds must be thoroughly justified as essential to the project.
Other. All other budget line items must directly impact the success of the project and need to be thoroughly justified; budget support must be tightly focused on driving innovations and inventions into the commercial marketplace. Responsible budgeting is a criterion for award selection.
Cost-sharing. Cost-sharing is encouraged and may be considered in the project evaluation and award.
Expectations for Technology Gap Funds Applicants
In the past, successful Technology Gap Fund applicants have invested significant time in learning and understanding what it takes to successfully commercialize their intellectual property. These efforts have included taking part in the NSF I-Corps program, Red Labs, or the 3 Day Startup Program.
While these are the most preferred and useful ways for an inventor to educate themselves, there are many ways to gain knowledge independently. For example, the following link contains a number of instructional videos used by the NSF I-Corps program: http://venturewell.org/i-corps/llpvideos/.
By viewing these videos, inventors will begin to understand some strategies for commercializing their intellectual property. The IP Committee also strongly urges inventors to go one step further by conducting customer interviews in order to more accurately identify the best market for their technology.
By taking advantage of one of the many resources available on campus or learning individually, inventors will find the Technology Gap Fund application much easier to complete and their odds of being funded will greatly increase.
Review Criteria and Selection Process
The primary criteria that will be used for evaluation of proposals by both of the review panels include the likelihood of commercial success of the technology and anticipated need of additional funds to bring the product to market. Elements considered in the criteria scoring may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Technical merit
- Feasibility of commercialization and/or licensing
- Market potential
- Analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
Each proposal will receive a final score used to rank the proposed work. Funding will depend upon the volume of proposals submitted in any one funding cycle and the availability of funds. The final score will be calculated by combining the IP subcommittee score and the external review panel. Awards will be up to $50,000 depending on the project, with approximately 5 awards in any one calendar year.
A report that describes progress towards commercialization of the project must be submitted at 6 months and at the end of the 12-month period. Milestones (e.g., completion of proof of concept) and deliverables (e.g., prototype or product completion) must be clearly identified and a product development plan with milestones for the subsequent cycle should be provided for consideration of any additional funding. All unused funds will be returned at the end of the award.
Updated December 3, 2015