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Technology Gap Fund

 

About the Technology Gap Fund

This commercialization funding program is designed to support UH inventors as they move their technologies closer to commercial readiness. Funds are available to advance technologies by allowing inventors to decrease technical risk and thereby increase the commercial value of the technology, whether it is licensed to an existing company or used as a catalyst for a startup.

Applications that do not have a clear connection with commercialization and/or technology development will not be considered responsive to this call for proposals and will not be reviewed.

Eligibility Criteria

All University of Houston system faculty and staff are eligible to apply, as long as they have AT LEAST a provisional patent application related specifically to the proposed project filed with the University of Houston through the Office of Intellectual Property Management (OIPM). The applicant must be the PI of said intellectual property. The proposal may have as many co-PIs as appropriate.

Inventors who are currently being funded by the Technology Gap Fund may not apply for further funding. Inventors who have been funded in the past may reapply, however, if the project centers around the same IP as their last funding, they must include a one page document that includes a report regarding their last award and justification for further funding.

Awards

Funding per project will be up to $50,000. Proposed work must be accomplished within 12 months of funding. Extensions in time will only be granted upon review and in the cases of extreme extenuating circumstances.

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 programRed 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.

Letter of Intent Submission

The letter of intent should consist of the following components.

  1. Project title
  2. Names and contact information of participants (please indicate the PI)
  3.  Intellectual property application numbers
  4. A project summary of 200 words or less

Existing industry partnerships are not strictly required; however, projects that demonstrate clear commercial interest and include dedicated industry mentors will be looked upon favorably. All projects should have a clear commercial benefit.

Full Proposal Submission

The full proposal for Technology Gap Funding consists of the following:

  • A series of questions geared towards the specific project aims and milestones of the proposed project. These questions will address industry need, technical merit, hurdles to commercialization and others. Please keep answers to these questions brief (about 250 words).
  • A budget worksheet that will ask for detailed and itemized expenditures for the Funding.
  • Supplemental material of no more than 3 pages to further describe the technology and present table, figures, and prototype images. Please bear in mind that many of the reviewers are not scientists, so it is recommended that these materials are as clear and easy to understand as possible.
  • (For inventors requesting follow-on funding) a one page document that includes a report regarding their last award and justification for further funding

All projects must be designed to be completed in one year maximum. All projects must have two or more measurable milestones with dates for project review. Proposals missing the required information will automatically be delayed.

Proposal Budgets

Budget expenditures incurred before the award date will not be reimbursed. Awards will be up to $50,000.

Budget items may include: external consultants and partners, equipment, supplies, animal care costs, payment to subjects, computer services, and any other costs relevant to the project. Travel expenses are eligible only when the travel is required to conduct the project. The role and / or task of any personnel salaries (research assistant)) or stipends (undergraduate and graduate student) on the project should be defined in the justification.

Ineligible expenses include: funding for student tuition or tuition scholarships (waivers), salary support for faculty members or post-doctoral associates on 12-month appointments or on sabbatical leave, salary for visiting faculty members, salary for office/administrative staff, travel to attend conferences or present findings, “bridging” support to maintain research operations for interim periods between grant termination and funding renewal

An appropriate budget should be designed to permit the completion of all award-related activities within the submitted timeline. If project costs exceed the amount requested on the budget, then other confirmed sources of funding must be identified and shown on the budget.

Application Evaluation Criteria

Proposals will be evaluated by internal and external technical and business reviewers for the likelihood of commercial success of the technology and anticipated need of additional funding to bring the project to market. Elements considered in the criteria scoring may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Technical merit: Does this technology solve industry problems better than existing methods?
  • Feasibility of commercialization and/or licensing: Does it seem reasonable that this research can be translated into a useful product?
  • Market potential: Is there need in the market for the proposed product or service?
  • Project feasibility: How likely is it that the project milestones can be achieved within the projected budget and timeframe?

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. A sub-committee of reviewers will make final funding recommendations to the Vice President / Vice Chancellor for Research and Technology Transfer with approximately 5 projects funded in any one fiscal year.

Project Reporting Requirements

6-Month Review:

The purpose of the 6-month review is to assist the research team in meeting their project goals. A 1-page status report discussing progress on the project goals must be submitted after 6 months of receiving funding. Continued funding will be dependent on demonstrated progress of proposed milestones. This status report should be submitted via email to oipm@central.uh.edu. The status report should address the following two questions:

  • Are you on track to complete all project work? If not, please comment as appropriate.
  • Are there any technical or business issues, resources, or contacts that we can assist with?

Final Report and Meeting

A final meeting with each awardee team will be held to discuss results of the project. A written report is required 3 days prior to the meeting date to be submitted via email to oipm@central.uh.edu. Format of the report is flexible, but there should be a focus on endpoints and their commercial significance. All unused funds will be returned at the end of the award.


Updated February 3, 2017