Technology Development and Proof-of-Concept Fund
Research and Economic Development through the Office of Research Commercialization and Development (ORCD) is offering proof-of-concept grants for up to $10,000 to support product development and initial testing of new university-owned innovations and technologies with strong commercial potential. Through this program, the university hopes to fill a critical funding gap along the innovation continuum and reduce some of the barriers associated with licensing and commercialization by adding significant value to early-stage innovations.
Award Focus and Scope
Technology Development/Proof-of-Concept awards are intended to increase the readiness level of new university-owned IP including patentable inventions, software, and research tools. Innovations developed outside of the university and which are not owned by the university are excluded from this program. To qualify for an award, the new innovation must be disclosed to the Office of Research Commercialization and Development (ORCD) through the invention report form process. At least one faculty member or university staff member must be included as an inventor on the invention report and micro-grant application. Student-only projects are excluded from this program and students with business ideas are encouraged to work with the Ventureprise office for further support and training. Innovations that are deemed to have a high commercial impact will be given funding priority. Some examples of high commercial impact metrics include:
- Clear demonstration of market need
- Competitive advantages over existing solutions
- Defined endpoints as they relate to licensing and commercialization
- Market size and market accessibility
- Patentability/protectability of the innovation
- Creators’ ability to work with external partners and raise additional funding
Award Amount, Duration, Allowable Costs
Technology Development/POC awards are available for up to $10,000 during rolling 12-month project periods during each fiscal year (starting July 1) until the funding is exhausted. Allowable costs include materials and supplies plus software development fees paid to third parties. Salaries, student tuition, travel expenses, and indirect costs are not permitted under this program.
The micro-grant program is open to all full-time university faculty and staff as well as students working with a faculty or staff member on a project. To qualify for funding, the new innovation must be disclosed to the Office of Research Commercialization and Development (ORCD) through the invention report form process. Upon receiving confirmation of an invention report number, the development and proof-of-concept application may be submitted. Some examples of innovations that are ineligible for funding are:
- Open source projects intended to be made freely available to the public
- Purely academic or literary works without a commercial market
- Older innovations previously disclosed or made public more than five (5) years from the application date
- Innovations with co-ownership with outside entities or contractual restrictions on licensing
- Innovations that are not owned by the university (i.e., personal projects)
Application Guidelines and Review/Selection Criteria
Applications must include the following in a single PDF document, not exceeding three pages (single spaced, 1-inch margins, minimum 11 pt font)
- Project Description (2 pages, max) that includes
- The scope of the proposal, timeline, and anticipated outcomes and deliverables.
- The relevant market needs
- The commercial potential of the innovation and the probable development timeline
- Any interest expressed in the project by potential industry partners, investors, or commercial sponsors
- List of all relevant patent or technology disclosures.
- Budget and budget justification indicating how the requested funds will be used. (1 page, max).
Complete applications should be submitted as a single pdf file using the web form available here.
Applications over three pages will not be accepted. Applicants should expect to receive feedback from the grant review panel within 20 business days.
Applications will be reviewed and evaluated by a review panel comprising faculty and Research and Economic Development staff using the following criteria:
- The likelihood that the project will improve or advance the commercialization potential of university-owned intellectual property.
- The likelihood that the project will lead to follow-on funding from industry, investors, or other commercialization support or licensing.
- The likelihood that the project will lead to a well-defined deliverable such as proof-of-concept, prototype, or a go/no-go decision on commercialization.
The Technology Development and Proof-of-Concept Fund is managed by UNC Charlotte’s Office of Research Commercialization and Development. Questions regarding the program should be directed to ORCD at firstname.lastname@example.org.