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Proof of Concept (POC) Grant Program

 Rod LaFoy works on headbands for face shields with a Raise3D printer. Photo: Spencer Roberts for Virginia Tech.
Photo: Erica Corder.

Request for Proposals

Efforts to enable the transition and commercialization of inventions created at Virginia Tech support our institutional mission of improving the quality of life and the human condition within the Commonwealth of Virginia and throughout the world. Many faculty, graduate students, and staff are interested in participating in the innovation economy and seeing their work translated into successful products, services, and start-ups. Virginia Tech’s LINK+LICENSE+LAUNCH is dedicated to fostering a culture of innovation and supporting these important activities. Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties (VTIP), in partnership with LICENSE & LAUNCH, is seeking proposals from Virginia Tech faculty, graduate students, and staff interested in moving novel early-stage technologies derived from university research out of the laboratory and into the marketplace through Proof-of-Concept (POC) grant funding.

POC grant funds and associated support are an important tool for advancing innovations beyond the early research phases, helping investigators bridge the gap between basic science and commercialization through a more informed approach that is anchored in user, market and technical realities. While they are not intended to advance the scientific research itself, they are designed to inform applications and improvements of technologies and support subsequent funding opportunities in the Federal SBIR/STTR and NSF I-Corps programs as well from seed funds, startup accelerators, and early-stage investors. The Virginia Tech POC Program provides awardees non-dilutive grants of up to $50k in funding along with LICENSE & LAUNCH commercialization support services.

Anticipated POC project activities could include:

  • Fabrication of technology prototypes or other technology validation and testing.
  • Engagement of relevant external specialized services (e.g., regulatory, testing, etc.).
  • Market and industry assessment and analysis activities.
  • Business model creation and testing, financial modeling, and customer discovery activities.
  • Other projects that help mitigate technical or commercial risk for potential commercial partners.

Eligibility

Proposals must be submitted by Virginia Tech full time faculty, staff, or current graduate students using the application link below. Undergraduate students or persons or enterprises external to Virginia Tech are not eligible to apply. Eligible POC proposed projects must be based on Virginia Tech owned technologies disclosed in a Virginia Tech Intellectual Property Disclosure form received by VTIP, or other early-stage technologies being advanced by full-time Virginia Tech researchers as part of their research focus at Virginia Tech.

Proposal Considerations

  • Preferred projects are based on technology that has been disclosed to Virginia Tech via a Virginia Tech Intellectual Property Disclosure form and that is owned by Virginia Tech under Intellectual Property Policy 13000.
  • Priority will be given to novel technologies that have high societal or economic impact, can be scaled to market in a reasonable time (3-5yrs), and help solve a problem or need for users.
  • Successful proposals will provide specific objectives and tasks for use of POC funds and support services.
  • Proposed POC projects should be capable of completion within 12 months from the award of POC funds.
  • Projects incorporating more than one member on the project team are preferred, preferably incorporating an individual with relevant industry/commercial experience.
  • The project leader submitting the POC proposal shall assume project leadership and be willing to commit reasonable time to complete the POC activities outlined in the proposal.
  • Recommended length of proposals: ≤ 5 pages.
  • Proposals will be reviewed on a competitive basis quarterly. See application deadlines below.

 

How to apply

Complete the proposal application short-form using the link below. You must be logged into the Virginia Tech system to access the form. The submission requires uploading a written POC proposal which should include the following:

  1. Title of the proposed POC project.
  2. POC project team members (individual completing the proposal submission shall be considered the project leader) with a link to an on-line bio for each.
  3. Virginia Tech Invention Disclosure form submission status; e.g., completed or in-process, or an explanation of why you believe one is not required.
  4. Description of the subject technology with a clear articulation of points of novelty, advantages, and desired commercial applications.
  5. Status of any prototyping activities for the technology.
  6. Specific objectives for use of the POC funds and how these objectives are expected to increase the value of the technology. 
  7. A proposed POC budget summary (up to $50K). POC funds cannot be used to cover AY or summary salary for T&R faculty, but can be used for support of graduate students, postdocs, or funding for activities or external resources related to advancement of technology towards commercialization.
  8. Anticipated next steps after completion of the POC project objectives, including desired next-round funding opportunities.
  9. Note: this does not need to be submitted through SUMMIT. Use the form below for submission.

 

Review Process: 

All POC proposals shall be evaluated on a competitive basis by the POC Review Committee, composed of research faculty representatives, commercialization experts from the Office of Research and Innovation, early-stage investment professionals, and at least one graduate student and a Virginia Tech staff member. The POC Review Committee shall score each proposal from a technological, market opportunity, and POC submission team capabilities perspective. The review committee may contact the applicant(s) for additional information necessary to make award decisions.

Due Dates and Award Dates: 

Submissions of POC proposals can be made on a rolling basis, but shall be evaluated in quarterly batches. The quarterly batch submission deadlines are June 15 (award date July 31), September 15 (award date October 31), January 15 (award date February 28) and April 15 (award date May 31) each calendar year.  

Questions:

Please email Mark B. Mondry, Associate Director of LAUNCH: The Center for New Ventures, at mmondry@vt.edu if you have any questions.