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IPOC Frequently Asked Questions

What is proof-of-concept funding?

Traditional sources of research funding are typically intended for basic research. However, discoveries resulting from this research often need additional development to reach important milestones that are critical to commercialization. These milestones help "de-risk" a technology, making it more attractive to licensing partners.  Proof of concept funding helps bridge that gap by supporting activities such as:

  • building prototypes
  • conducting commercial feasibility tests
  • creating a mobile application or software to disseminate information or educational materials
  • demonstrating mitigation of risk
  • addressing issues identified by industry that impair the ability to license or attract capital

How much is awarded?

Projects will be awarded in amounts up to $50,000 with funding distributed in tranches. The timing and amount of each tranche will correspond to the budget request submitted as part of the application. 

What is the timeframe of the award?

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.

What are the eligibility requirements?

  • The applicant must currently be a full-time academic researcher, or emeritus faculty with an active research program
  • The applicant must have an invention report on file with the Office of Technology Management or file an invention report simultaneously with submitting the pre-proposal
  • 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 underlying the innovation must be owned by the University or co-owned by the University and another academic institution. 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.
  • Faculty may submit only 1 proposal per funding round.

Who owns any resulting intellectual property?

Intellectual property resulting from proof-of-concept funding is wholly owned by the University of Illinois.  

What should be included in the application?

The application should be submitted online here:  The application has three components: 1) basic information, 2) a brief description of no more than 3 pages, and 3) the anticipated budget request. The description should include:

  • Overview – Introduce the societal and market problems your innovation addresses.
  • Budget Request & Impact of IPOC Funding – What is the amount of funding you are requesting (up to $50,000) and how will this funding help advance your innovation towards public use, commercialization, or licensing. 
  • Time Needed to Complete the Project -- Preferably within 6-8 months of the start of funding. Proposals that requeuire more than 8 months are still encouraged to apply. Please provide some specifics about yhe timeframe.
  • Specific Aims/Milestones – Propose 2-3 distinct milestones that will be used to track the progress of the project over the course of the funding period. 
  • Market Attractiveness – Describe the envisioned end-product based on your technology and the market it will compete in. Identify the differentiating factors (e.g. better/faster/cheaper) that will make your innovation competitive in the market place or beneficial to society. 
  • Appendix – A maximum of one (1) page of supporting data or references may be included. The appendix will not count towards the three-page limit.

When are applications due?

Applications must be submitted by December 17, 2021.

How are applications reviewed?

An internal review committee, consisting of representatives from colleges, units, administration and the entrepreneurial ecosystem, will review applications. Applications will be evaluated based on the project’s ability to successfully prepare the innovation for commercialization within the scope of the proposed milestones and within the requested budget and time frame. Please note: reviewers are not required to sign a confidentiality agreement prior to the review. Protected or proprietary information should not be included, but applications must provide sufficient information for reviewers to make a determination regarding commercialization potential.

What are the next steps?

The internal review committee will select finalists representing the strongest applications among a diverse balance of innovation areas. Finalists will be invited to present a full proposal, consisting of a pitch presentation and a more detailed budget, to an external review committee.