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Illinois Proof of Concept Program (IPOC)

The application period for 2024 funding has now closed. 


Bridging the gap between University innovations and the marketplace

The Illinois Proof-of-Concept program (IPOC) funds projects that facilitate the transformation of UIUC research innovations into products and services that benefit society.

Often this takes the form of development work that demonstrates an innovation's market viability to potential investors and partners. 

The Office of Technology Management is currently seeking IPOC proposals that represent the breadth and depth of campus research and that have the potential for positive societal impact across a variety of areas. 

Applications are due January 16, 2024. Awards will be announced in May 2024 for projects commencing summer 2024.

Proposals should contain a plan of development that will move University-owned research innovations closer to commercialization, public use and/or licensing. The project should contain defined steps and a tangible set of milestones that would overcome a specific, identifiable hurdle to commercialization. Projects will be awarded in amounts up to $50,000 with funding distributed in tranches. 

Examples of project types include, but are not limited to: 

  • Building a prototype
  • Commercial feasibility testing
  • In vivo testing using a relevant disease model 
  • Pre-clinical animal testing and medical device testing
  • Creating a mobile application or software to disseminate information or educational materials
  • Demonstrating mitigation of risk for potential licensees
  • Addressing a specific gap identified by industry that impairs the ability to license or attract capital

Application and review process

  • Download the application template here: 
  • Submit your application here: 
  • Applications must be submitted by January 16, 2024.
  • Applications will be evaluated by an internal review committee based on the project’s ability to successfully prepare the technology for commercialization within the scope of the proposed studies and within the requested budget and time frame. Applications will also be reviewed to determine whether the project meets eligibility criteria. 
  • If invited to proceed, faculty will then make a pitch presentation to an external review committee. 
  • We anticipate announcing awardees in late Spring 2023.
  • More information can be found in the program guide and the FAQs
  • For questions please contact Nicole Nair at or your technology manager.

Eligibility Requirements

The intent of IPOC is to fund translational R&D that takes place within the University (or possibly within a contracted facility such as a testing service). IPOC funds may not be used for work within a researcher’s startup or work performed at another University. If you are unsure whether your proposed use of funds is within IPOC guidelines, please contact Nicole Nair at prior to submitting your proposal.

Proposals are encouraged from all fields of research. Proposals must meet both the investigator and project eligibility criteria outlined below:

i. Principle Investigator & Personnel Eligibility

  • The PI must currently be a full-time academic researcher at Illinois, or an emeritus faculty member who maintains an active research group.
  • The PI must have an invention report on file with the OTM upon which the proposed project will be based. Applications will not move forward if a disclosure is not on file with the OTM.  The invention report can be made at the time of the application.
  • Non-Illinois personnel should be identified within the application and their role within the project should be defined. 
  • Applicants may participate in multiple proposals per funding round (either as a PI or collaborator), however an applicant can only receive one award. 

ii. Project Eligibility

  • Project milestones should preferably be achievable within 6-8 months of the start of funding and must be within the requested budget. Proposals that require more than 8 months are still encouraged to apply.
  • The innovation which provides the basis for the proposal must not be encumbered by any other prior obligations that would preclude the University from moving forward with commercialization (i.e. exclusively licensed, or rights already committed under the terms of a sponsored research agreement or an ongoing collaboration with an industrial partner). Please note that technologies that have been optioned or non-exclusively licensed may be eligible for the program, depending on the circumstances. Please contact the OTM if you are unsure whether your innovation is eligible.
  • The intellectual property surrounding the invention disclosure must be owned or co-owned by the University of Illinois. If co-owned with another academic institution, the University of Illinois must be the lead institution. Please contact the OTM if you are unsure about the ownership of your invention. 
  • The project must be focused on advancing the innovation towards licensing and/or use outside of the University. IPOC funding cannot be used for basic exploratory studies or as general funding for the PI’s lab. Project proposals should address how achieving identified project milestones will move the invention towards commercialization.


More than $2.02 million in campus proof-of-concept funding since 2009 (IPOC combined with prior programs) has leveraged:

  • 42 funded projects
  • 16 start-up companies
  • $300 million + in venture, angel, and government funding