Proof-of-Concept Fund

UoM Commercial has established a Proof-of-Concept (POC) Fund to assist in the development of the University's intellectual property towards commercialisation.

About

The POC Fund is intended to propel University inventions and technologies across the funding “valley of death” to a stage where we can demonstrate worth to future potential partners. It is intended to help cover the gap between intellectual property disclosures and spin-out or licensing, where there is a compelling case for enhancing the technology's commercial potential.

The POC Fund can also be utilised to secure matching funds against appropriate grant funding schemes. See below for further details and you can download a flyer to share with your colleagues here.

General Guidelines

Industry Feedback
  • Applications must include written feedback from industry or an interested 3rd party investor as to their interest in your project and the outcomes that should be explored

Overall Scale

  • $500,000 available in funding;
  • Any unspent funds will be rolled over into the pool of funding available for award in the following year

Individual Investment Scale

  • Maximum individual grant size $100,000
  • Minimum individual grant size $10,000

Matching Funding

  • Encouraged but not mandated

Project Timing

  • Projects to be initiated within 2 months of approval, and completed within 12 months of approval

Application Pre-Requisites

  • Intellectual Property core to the application must have been disclosed to the University prior to application for POC Funding

Applicant Eligibility

Potential Applicant

Eligible to Apply?

Discussion / Criteria

UoM researcher within Faculty

Yes

  • All Faculties
  • Must be employed by UoM

Collaborative research – UoM + other institution

Yes

  • UoM must have at least 50% ownership in IP
  • Well qualified UoM researcher
  • UoM researchers undertake more than 50% of work

UoM Spin-off Company

Typically No

  • Investment committee may use discretion, especially where leveraging of other funding is a possibility

UoM funded CRC

No

  • Lack of IP ownership

Other research organisation

No

  • As above

Previous recipient – project extension

Yes

  • However, not to be considered an open ended funding arrangement
  • Objective of providing availability to a broad range of recipients

Previous recipient in new area

Yes

  • Merit based

Project Eligibility

Please note that the Fund’s Executive Investment Committee will not consider applications unless the intellectual property that is core to the concept has been disclosed to the University. Find out more about IP Disclosures here.

 

Eligible

Ineligible

Innovation / Commercial Intent

  • Has a novel product, process or service and the intention to commercialise
  • has written feedback from interested 3rd party
  • Generic research
  • On-going base research
  • no 3rd party feedback

IP & Ownership of IP

  • The technology has been disclosed to the University;
  • Creators/inventors’ confirmatory assignments have been completed;
  • TTO have issued advice that confirms:
    • Their endorsement of the technology
    • UoM has strong ownership rights,
    • UoM has the right to commercialise the technology;
    • no obvious “Freedom to Operate” issues

The novel elements of the technology should be able to be protected and afford protection for its commercial potential

  • IP not yet disclosed to TL
  • IP not developed or at least co-owned by UoM
  • TL has any significant doubts regarding novelty or FTO

Use of Funds

Any expense (internal or external) for:

  • Prototype development and/or validation
  • Technology scale-up and/or validation studies
  • In vivo proof-of-concept studies in relevant disease models for therapeutic opportunities
  • Software coding and documentation to enable field trials or alpha/beta testing
  • External advice on IP, market, business planning, technical and/or competitive analysis to support the commercial potential of the opportunity
  • Labour:  Contract staff employed for a specific purposes
  • Staff payments that would otherwise have been paid by the Faculty
  • Patent application or prosecution expenditures (other funding sources available)
  • Marketing or promotion
  • Conference participation
  • Non-economy travel
  • Purchase of equipment for general usage
  • Staff payments (for spin-out company)

Technical Maturity / POC applicability

  • Research undertaken to date supports the underlying concept
  • POC activity (e.g. prototype development & testing) is the logical next step
  • Planned activity has a clearly defined deliverable that is intrinsic to proof-of-concept
  • Concept only, no base research
  • More fundamental research required pre POC activity
  • Planned activity is really base research, not POC

Merit Criteria

Guidelines for assessment of the relative merit of an application are provided below.  Apart from “matching funding” (which is desirable but not mandatory), the application should rate well against all other criteria if it is to be selected:

 

Scores well if:

Scores poorly if:

Need for Funds

  • No other viable source of fund available (or can be obtained in a reasonable time) to reach project’s outcome
  • “matching” funds are required under a grant application
  • Efforts have been made to seek funding from alternative sources
  • Sound explanation provided as to why unreasonable to source funding from alternative sources (Ie the interested 3rd party)
  • No evidence that alternative sources of funding have been considered

Matching Funds

  • Matching funds available if POC Fund invests
  • No other funding source

Application / Value Proposition

  • The technology has clear commercial application(s)
  • The technology has significant technical and/or commercial advantages over existing technologies or fulfils an unmet need
  • Commercial interest in the technology (e.g. letter of support, or funds offered)
  • The technology is looking for an application
  • Only a marginal improvement on what currently exists in market
  • Value proposition is not compelling
  • Other technologies with the capability to provide a similar benefit
  • No demonstrable commercial interest

Addressable Market

  • Target market: Large and clearly defined, supported by credible data
  • No obvious and significant barriers to entry
  • Sits within existing or potential regulatory frameworks
  • Niche market
  • High barriers to entry
  • Regulatory position uncertain

Execution Plan

  • Has created a preliminary plan that describes the development and commercialisation pathway
  • Lacks developmet and commercialisation planning

Team & Management Capability

  • Researcher is qualified in the space
  • Team has expertise relevant to:
    • deliver next stage of project
    • commercialisation
  • Potential to transition to spin-out business
  • No indication team has capacity to deliver project
  • IP is not core area of expertise for the team

National Benefits/Potential Impact

  • Project falls within one of the following Australia Government identified industry growth sectors: Advanced Manufacturing, Food and Agribusiness, Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals, Mining Equipment, Technology and Services and Oil, Gas   and Energy Resources.
  • Project otherwise has potential wider benefits to society
  • Difficult to see societal benefits

RIC’s call for projects

University of Melbourne’s Research, Innovation & Commercialisation team (RIC) is calling for projects for review by the Fund’s Executive Investment Committee (EIC).

RIC will work to help researchers make submissions that are in line with the Fund’s stated technical and eligibility requirements.

The Application Process

An Overview

Step-by-step

  1. Contact the RIC Business Development (BD) person  who is aware of your IP and discuss whether an application for POC Funding is a sensible next step.
  2. Your RIC business Development person will share the Application Form.
  3. Complete the Application Form. Note – there is a section for your RIC BD person to complete as well.
  4. Once an Application is signed by the lead researcher and BD person, the form must be submitted to RIC’s Technology Transfer & Licensing Services team (TTLS)
  5. Suitable applications will be collated and presented to the Fund’s EIC on a monthly basis by a member of RIC TTLS (and BD representative where appropriate).

The Monitoring Process

Funding will be tied to reporting obligations and will be released in tranches tied to milestones where appropriate.

UoM Commercial’s Finance team will manage monitoring and progress reporting. RIC will nominate a BD Person to be an intermediary contact point for UoMC Finance with respect to teams that are successful with their funding applications.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • What costs are covered?

    Any expense (internal or external) relating to the following will be considered:

    • development work (including prototyping, proof of application and patent strengthening work): and/or
    • Commercial viability work (including customer, market, competitor analysis, business case development)

    For example:

    • Prototype development and/or validation
    • In vivo proof-of-concept studies in relevant disease models for therapeutic opportunities
    • Software coding and documentation to enable field trials or alpha/beta testing
    • External advice on IP, market, business planning, technical and/or competitive analysis to support the commercial potential of the opportunity
    • Labour:  Contract staff employed for specific project purposes

    Ineligible expenditure

    • Staff payments that would otherwise have been paid by the faculty
    • Patent application or prosecution expenditures
    • Marketing or promotion
    • Conference participation
    • Non-economy travel
    • Purchase of equipment for general usage

    Otherwise, eligible expenditure will be at the discretion of the Executive Investment Committee.

  • Can I use this fund to help subsidise a collaborative project with Industry?  

    No, but if you’ve pitched your technology to industry and they’ve provided feedback as to why they’re not yet interested, that might help you define a project suitable for this fund.

  • Can I use this fund to match other commercialisation grants?

    Yes, and we encourage it. So long as the suppliers of the other grants allow it. POC Funding can be committed as matching funds for a period of time, conditional upon successful grant funding from elsewhere. For instance, we can use this fund to match Accelerating Commercialisation grants.

  • Do I need to have patented my work?

    No, but an IP Disclosure must have been submitted to the University before the Executive Investment Committee will consider your application.

    The intention is that the Technology Transfer and Licensing Services Team has had an opportunity to:

    • carry out due diligence on University’s rights and potential to exploit the IP
    • confirm there are no obvious “Freedom to Operate” issues that may impact on the commercialisation of the technology
    • Put all necessary agreements in place necessary to exploit the intellectual property
  • Is the POC Fund an investment fund?

    The Fund is not a fund with the intention of producing returns, profit margins and multiples. The goal of the fund is to help get University of Melbourne inventions and technologies to a state where we can demonstrate their worth to potential commercial and other external parties.

  • How is the award repaid?

    It’s not required to be repaid, unless money isn’t spent as approved (reporting is required).