Technology Gap Fund

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). 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.

Eligibility

Faculty and staff at all University of Houston system campuses who have filed a non-provisional patent (NPA) application through the Office of Intellectual Property Management in the past three academic years can compete for funding through this program. When a compelling case can be made, technologies on which a patent has already been granted in the last three years may also be eligible for funding through this mechanism. Proposed work must be accomplished within 6 months of funding with a possible one-time 6 month no-cost extension.

Review and Evaluation/Selection Criteria

Proposals are due by the date indicated. All submissions must be received electronically. The review process will be carried out within four 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 OIPM staff and external reviewers (venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and other members from the local 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 of additional funds to bring the product to market.

Award Amount

Awards generally will be in the range of $15,000-$50,000. No indirect costs are allowed. Investigators are encouraged to seek additional matching funds to leverage the Technology Gap Fund resources. Matching funds are not required to be considered for Technology Gap Fund support but will be viewed as an added-value component to the submission.

Proposal Preparation Guidelines

Requests for Technology Gap funding can be made only after the decision to convert to an NPA has been made. The following sections will be generated using the electronic form provided on the DOR/OIPM website.

  • Executive Summary of why Technology Gap funds are required (150 words).
  • Evidence that Technology Gap funds are not a duplication of other internal or external sources of support. (150 words).
  • Evidence that requested funds will advance the commercial development of the proposed technology (150 words).
  • Discussion of market space and competitive landscape. (150 words)
  • Describe the major milestones that will remain to be accomplished once you complete the project described herein. (150 words)
  • Business plan overview or description of licensing partnership to be pursued. (150 words)
  • Budget and Justification (250 words).

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. [Note: Technology Gap Funds will not be eligible for tuition scholarships (waivers).] The role and/or task of any personnel on the project should be defined in the justification. This explanation is particularly true for the graduate students employed on the project.

Faculty Stipend. 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. Travel funds may not exceed $2,000 unless deemed essential to the development of the product.

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 project evaluation and award.

Review Criteria and Selection Process

Proposals will be reviewed and scored using a method similar to the process used by NIH. The review process consists of parallel independent review by two separate groups, one a sub-committee of the Intellectual Property Committee, the other a panel which will include OIPM staff and external reviewers (venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and other members from the local business community) with expertise in each area, e.g., health, energy, etc. 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
  • Evidence funds are not duplicative
  • Evidence funds will accelerate product development
  • Discussion of the target market and competition
  • Business plan and strategy for partnering, and/or licensing
  • Evidence budget is reasonable and sufficient to achieve milestones
  • Analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

Each proposal will receive a final score on which the funding decision will be made. The final score will be calculated by combining the IP subcommittee score and the external review panel where the IP subcommittee score receives a 40% weighting and the external review panel receives a 60% weighting in the calculation. Awards generally will be in the range of $15,000-$50,000 depending on the project, with up to 8 to 10 awards in any one calendar year. Funding will depend upon the volume of proposals submitted in any one funding cycle and the availability of funds.

Reporting Requirements

A report that describes progress toward commercialization of the project must be submitted at the end of the 6-month period. Milestones (e.g., completion of proof of concept) and deliverables (e.g., prototype or market-image 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. A progress report will also be required prior to any no-cost extension. All unused funds will be returned at the end of the award.


Updated May 6, 2013