Research Administration and Development

Call for Proposals: Commercialization Gap Fund Program

The Office of Research Administration and Development has released a Call for Proposals for the Commercialization Gap Fund ProgramFull-time USM faculty and staff from all colleges are eligible to apply. Graduate and undergraduate students who have discoveries and inventions resulting from their work at USM are eligible to participate as long as they identify an eligible USM faculty member or staff as the Principal Investigator.

The objective of the program is to increase the commercialization of USM inventions and discoveries that align with one or more of the following Maine Economic Improvement Fund target areas: Aquaculture and Marine Sciences, Advanced Technologies for Forestry and Agriculture Technologies Environmental Technologies, Biotechnology, Information Technologies, Composites and Advanced Materials, and Precision Manufacturing.  Novel university developed technologies are inherently very early stage; often too early stage for external investment--yet beyond external funding eligibility for general research. As such, faculty and staff find themselves in a gap between the current state of technology development and commercialization requirements.  USM faculty and staff with clearly defined and/or partially tested inventions have two options under the Commercialization Gap Fund Program Competition to move their inventions and discoveries closer to market, Proof of Concept and Commercial Feasibility Study.

Commercial Feasibility Study (CFS) grants of up to $5,000 for six months are available to pay for market analysis to assess the commercial viability of the invention and discoveries and cost/benefit associated with commercialization.  A CFS study is valuable in helping determine likelihood of commercial success and can be further developed into a business plan or provide the basis for a Proof of Concept grant application.  CFS grantees that successfully demonstrate commercial viability of their inventions and discoveries are eligible to submit Proof of Concept proposals any time during the year.

Proof of Concept (POC) grants of up to $75,000 over two years are available to enable faculty and staff with promising inventions and discoveries to address technical and commercial hurdles--moving them closer to commercialization. POC funds may be used to explore and verify specific technical and commercial dimensions of the inventions such as generating data to support commercial applications; prototype development and testing; software code validation, or other similar activities. Funds cannot be used for basic exploratory studies or as general funding for a faculty member’s lab.  POC applications that do not demonstrate commercial viability of the inventions and discoveries as provided by CFS-funded analyses or by other reasonable analyses will not be considered.

The due date for Letters of Interest is October 1, 2013.  The due date for full proposals is December 3, 2013.  Thereafter, RAD will accept Letters of Interest three times a year on the first Tuesday of October, February, and June, and full proposals three times a year on the first Tuesday of December, April, and August.

On Friday, October 4, 2013, the Faculty Commons and RAD are sponsoring an introductory seminar for USM faculty and staff on how to commercialize discoveries and inventions in an academic environment. The guest speakers will be Kris Burton, Director of Technology Commercialization, University of Maine Department of Industrial Cooperation, and Leonard Agneta, Center for Law and Innovation, Maine Patent Program, University of Maine School of Law.  RAD staff will provide an overview of the current Commercialization Gap Fund competition immediately following the presentations. For more information on the seminar and location please visit the Faculty Commons’ website.

For more information please contact Dr. Samantha Langley-Turnbaugh (780-5084, langley@usm.maine.edu) or Dr. Terry Shehata (228-8239, tshehata@usm.maine.edu).