Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Grant funding for TTO operations and programs: An overlooked resource


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 11th, 2022

A detailed article on accessing grant funds for internal TTO projects and programs appears in the December issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe access the complete article, or for further subscription details, click here.

Federal grants are the lifeblood of university research, and TTOs also benefit from the innovations that spring from that funding. But tech transfer offices can benefit more directly by applying for and gaining grant funds to pay for their own internal projects or initiatives, as several TTOs are proving. And as federal agencies have become keen to support innovation and entrepreneurship, ignoring these opportunities may amount to a significant missed opportunity.

While the dollar amounts are small compared to the billions spent on research every year, these grants could be meaningful to the TTOs and help them accomplish some key deliverables using money they would have otherwise had to extract from their budgets — or not run the programs at all.

Two technology transfer units that take advantage of federal and other grants are Innovation Gateway at the University of Georgia and CU Innovations at the University of Colorado.

Ian Biggs, chief operating officer of Innovation Gateway, says the program has recently garnered four grants, two of which have been “transformational in terms of how we operate.” He cites their I-Corps grant, which they got about three years ago, as having “the single biggest [impact on our operations] that we’ve had [from a grant].”

The grant garnered $500,000 over five years and funded 30 I-Corps teams a year at $3,000, plus $10,000 for administration and other costs in the program. In addition, Biggs later applied for an I-Corps add-on grant that paid $100,000 for changes he needed to make to convert the program to online delivery during the pandemic. Biggs’ program also recently received a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Federal and State Technology (FAST) Grant, which had a significant positive impact on his team’s ability to help write SBIR/STTR applications.

In Colorado, Kimberly Muller, executive director of CU Innovations, won a $4 million Research Evaluation and Commercialization Hub (REACH) grant from NIH to scale CU Innovations’ SPARK program, which they ran in partnership with Stanford University. Key leadership for this grant application effort was provided by Ron Sokol, Director of the CCTSI (Colorado Clinical and Translational Research Institute), and Rick Duke, a CU faculty member and entrepreneur who has led and worked with CU faculty on several start-ups.

Through this hybrid SPARK|REACH program, CU Innovations offers faculty funding to help translate their ideas. It also provides mentorship in the form of entrepreneurs in residence, regulatory and reimbursement experts, and an educational curriculum in innovation.

Prior to the grant support, CU Innovations ran the SPARK program for two years without external funding but faced prohibitive costs. Muller and her team started looking at funding opportunities and came across the solicitation for REACH. NIH awarded the grant three years ago, and CU Innovations has used it to expand the program, make it available to more people, and disseminate best practices nationwide. Recently, in recognition of the program’s impact, the SBA Office of Innovation and Technology awarded a $50,000 Growth Accelerator Grant to help CU Innovations encourage diversity and inclusion across the spectrum of technology and innovation.

“I think most technology transfer offices have not considered grant funding to support their [offices and programs],” Muller says. “We tried to take a creative approach to offset some of our expenses to scale resources that would ultimately lead to better impact and better ROIs for our offices.”

Although few technology transfer offices are applying for federal grants to support internal operations, the word is getting out, and competition is growing. But the amount of money available is also increasing.

“At the federal level, there are more and more dollars every day being poured into programs like [SPARK|REACH] because [technology transfer is] a national priority,” Muller observes. “I expect [these types of grants] will grow exponentially based on the success of those programs.”

She also pointed out that state programs are opening their eyes to the potential benefits of supporting TTO infrastructure as a means of boosting the economic development activity in their states and regions. “So yes, we are always competing against other academic institutions,” Muller adds. “And I see that only increasing as people realize the true value that this can bring to our organizations.”

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Best Practices in Gaining SBIR/STTR Funding for University Technologies is a two-session distance learning collection filled with how-to guidance on landing critical, non-dilutive funding for university start-ups. Click here for more details.

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Researchers at Brown and Rhode Island Hospital develop COVID-19 breathalyzer test


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 11th, 2022

A team of researchers from Brown University and Rhode Island Hospital have developed a new test that can detect COVID-19 from the user’s breath. continue reading »

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Don’t miss it tomorrow: Returning IP to the Inventor: How, Why, When…Then What?


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 11th, 2022

Once an invention is disclosed, the path to commercialization begins. Critical assessments then determine whether the technology has a market, a market need, and can be patented or otherwise IP-protected, and down the road it goes…

In some cases those assessments return with too many negatives — there may be too little interest among licensees or investors, difficulty in scaling up, competition and regulatory risks, and many other challenges that can be too difficult to overcome despite the TTO’s best efforts.

Rather than having the case files simply gather dust, the intellectual property can be — and in many cases should be — released back to the inventor. But that also has its challenges. For one, you must be very clear on restrictions and rights when doing so because there are many players and factors to consider. There’s also the valuable relationship with the inventor, which should be preserved and even strengthened. A delicate touch is necessary to communicate why the IP is being released, what led to the decision, and what the rights of the university, funding sources, and faculty are in relation to the innovation.

To address these issues, Tech Transfer Central’s Distance Learning Division has teamed with Magdalena K. Morgan, PhD, Director of Licensing at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Innovation Gateway, for this insightful distance learning program: Returning Intellectual Property to the Inventor: How, Why, When…Then What?, scheduled for TOMORROW, January 13, 2022. 

For complete program details or to register, click here.  

Also coming soon:

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UAB researchers making progress on potential cure for sickle cell disease


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 11th, 2022

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) are developing a gene therapy that could serve as a permanent cure for sickle cell disease (SCD). continue reading »

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Empire Discovery Institute partners with Novo Nordisk to launch drug development program


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 11th, 2022

Empire Discovery Institute (EDI), a NY-based non-profit drug development accelerator, has entered into a five-year collaborative research partnership with global pharma company Novo Nordisk. continue reading »

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U of Sydney start-up aims to commercialize secure, ultra-fast blockchain


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 11th, 2022

A start-up from the University of Sydney aims to commercialize a secure, ultra-fast blockchain for banking and other commercial uses. continue reading »

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U.S. Export Controls Compliance Practices Benchmarks for Higher Education, 2022 Edition


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 11th, 2022

The all-new 2022 edition of U.S. Export Controls Compliance Practices Benchmarks for Higher Education has just been released. This one-of-a-kind resource provides a rich set of benchmarks and data to compare against your own practices and procedures regarding compliance with export control regulations. You’ll find detailed data on faculty training and preparedness, assessment and risk reports, size of export control staff, and time spent on export control issues along with invaluable peer advice. This study is jam-packed with over 110 easy to scan charts and figures displaying critical data you can’t find in any other publication.  

In significant detail, survey respondents also discuss their response to growing tension between the USA and China and its impact on their export controls regimen. For complete details or to order, click here.

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U of Central Florida researchers develop sustainable fuel cell to power cars


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 11th, 2022

Researchers at the University of Central Florida (UCF) are developing an alcohol-based power source for cars and other technologies. continue reading »

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Northwestern start-up raises $2.2M to commercialize wearable monitor for hydrocephalus


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 11th, 2022

A start-up from Northwestern University has raised $2.2 million in seed funding to commercialize a high-tech skin patch for patients with hydrocephalus. continue reading »

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Case Western start-up receives NSF grant to commercialize robotic road-marking technology


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 11th, 2022

A Case Western Reserve University start-up has received a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award of nearly $1 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to advance a robotic pavement-marking technology. continue reading »

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Biohaven and KU Leuven enter license agreement for novel pain treatment


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 11th, 2022

Biohaven Therapeutics and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven) in Belgium have entered into an exclusive license agreement to advance a novel treatment for pain into the marketplace. continue reading »

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The Guide to Intellectual Property Valuation, 2nd Edition


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 11th, 2022

The Guide to Intellectual Property Valuation, 2nd Edition is the definitive resource to help you draw credible and defensible conclusions regarding IP valuation. Leading IP valuation expert Mike Pellegrino, founder of Pellegrino & Associates, delivers real-world case studies of IP valuation analyses from start to finish in each of the primary IP categories. This practical, hands-on guide presents an objective framework for conducting due diligence of IP rights, performing sound legal analysis, and correlating the impact of IP rights on value.

In the Guide to Intellectual Property Valuation, 2nd Edition you’ll also find advanced tools that will help you navigate common landmines and arrive at supportable, optimum valuations for your innovations. This is not your typical IP valuation text. It goes far beyond the basics of IP valuation, theoretical models, or accounting gimmickry. And you won’t find rehashed topics already covered thoroughly in other resources. This guide provides you with a deeper, more practical analysis that the critical task of IP valuation demands. For complete details and to order, click here.

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