Research Universities are known for being centers of innovation and inspiration that often generate a wealth of promising new technologies. Unfortunately, many of these new inventions demand an inordinate amount of money just to get moving, and consequently require investors to get involved at the beginning stages of development. Likewise, these technologies call for high-risk ventures, which are hard to come by and difficult to maintain. Therefore, the challenge of creating a bridge between the culmination of research and the translation of discovery remains problematic.
Several years ago, the University of Rochester’s Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) began designing its first ever Technology Development Fund (TDF). The fund would operate as a tool to help foster the advancement of innovative research. It took a lot of hard work, dedication, and collaboration, but eventually the program was completed, and in October of 2010, OTT unveiled its new initiative!
This new program was developed, in part, to help resolve the deficit issue surrounding research funding and to accelerate the transfer of technology from the bench-side to the bed-side. Similarly, the fund seeks to support pre-commercialization research and prototype development to help increase the value of early stage technologies. The TDF permits strategic investments in promising discoveries, which allows OTT to actively advance and promote groundbreaking technologies for widespread use and application.
Qualified applicants include all University employees; any faculty member, post doctoral fellow, graduate student, etc., who has submitted an invention disclosure to OTT. If you do not have an invention disclosure on file with our offices, but wish to be considered for the fund, you must indicate intent to pursue commercial opportunities when applying.
The TDF solicits proposals twice a year, first in October and again in April, and requires applicants to submit both a pre-proposal and, if selected, a full proposal on or before each specific deadline.
The pre-proposal should be no longer than two pages and should be formatted in Microsoft Word, preferably using the pre-proposal template. The pre-proposal should include: background information about the project, a proposed research and development plan, investigator information, and relevant references (up to 5).
IMPORTANT REMINDER: PRE-PROPOSALS FOR THIS FALL ARE DUE ON SEPTEMBER 1ST, 2011!!
((Note: pre-proposals are typically due at the beginning of October, but this year the deadline has been moved forward. Therefore, if you wish to be considered for the fall 2011 award, you must email your application to the Screening Committee NO LATER than September 1st, 2011!!))
Each pre-proposal is then reviewed and those projects, which best satisfy the criteria outlined in the review process, will be asked to submit a Full Proposal.
The Screening Committee manages the fund, reviews all applications, and is responsible for identifying those projects deemed best to satisfy the criteria. The committee is made up of a number of highly qualified individuals that regularly call on external input from the commercial sector, entrepreneurs, members of angel networks, and the venture community when evaluating proposals.
The TDF application process is easy to navigate through, if challenges arise, mentors are made readily available for your convenience. Applicants may request assistance from a number of professional advisers and coaches; their services are here for you so be sure to take advantage of all they have to offer!
Financial awards are announced 8 -12 weeks from the submission of the pre-proposals. The awards are then presented to the winning applicants and distributed according to department protocols. Rewards range from $40,000 – $100,000 in funding to support projects for approximately one year. The fund supports technical and administrative staff salaries, equipment, and supplies. It does not fund faculty salaries or overhead.
Past Award Winners include:
Research in vaccine development and fuel cell production are the first two projects to be funded under the new University of Rochester Technology Development Fund.
- Jacob Schlesinger, M.D. (Department of Medicine) has been awarded $100,000 to continue to design and test a vaccine for dengue fever, a disease primarily found in the developing world and one that has eluded efforts to develop a vaccine. Schlesinger’s research in this area has received support from the Gates Foundation and the Pediatric Dengue Vaccine Initiative.
- Hong Yang, Ph.D. (Department of Chemical Engineering) has been awarded $60,000 to produce and test a novel catalyst for fuel cells. The catalyst, which is constructed of nano-materials, has the potential to increase effectiveness and reduce cost of the hydrogen and methanol fuel cells.
- Todd Krauss, Ph.D. (Department of Chemistry) has been awarded $80,000 to continue to develop and test a new semiconductor nano-crystal (NC) synthetic procedure that is extremely efficient in converting chemical precursors to NCs. In the last year Dr. Krauss’ lab discovered the fundamental chemical reaction mechanism underlying syntheses of II-VI and IV-VI (NCs), such as CdSe or PbSe NCs, solving a 20-year old puzzle in the field.