Commercialization Fund

VCU reported more than $275 million in sponsored research in fiscal year 2016-17. The scientific and medical breakthroughs taking place at VCU result in approximately 100 new invention disclosures every year. Most inventions disclosed to VCU Innovation Gateway need further development before they become attractive to industry partners, investors or entrepreneurs. Sometimes, these early stage inventions only need a small investment for prototype development and testing or animal studies to de-risk them to a point, in which a company may decide to partner, sponsor research or license them. This is a crucial step to bringing VCU translational research and innovations to market, where they can benefit society.

A total of $300,000 in two rounds of funding, ($150,000 each), will be awarded in the 2017-18 academic year. The funding (up to $50,000 per project) is intended to advance VCU inventions to a more mature stage and thus improve their chances of being out-licensed and brought to market.

Another call for applications will be announced in fall 2018.

Learn about recent recipients

For additional information or questions, contact Zena Singh,

What does the Commercialization Fund support?

This fund supports the development of inventions that have been disclosed to VCU Innovation Gateway. An invention disclosure must be on file or submitted to VCU Innovation Gateway prior to the submission of the funding request. Funding should enable the project to reach an inflection point. Funded tasks will be performed by or under the supervision of the PI, but may also include third-party efforts within or outside the university. The grants will be funded to meet agreed upon project objectives. Funds may be used to pay students or postdoctoral fellows, or to obtain materials and services at or outside of the university. Funding will be based on milestone completion. Overhead charges should not be included in the grant proposal. VCU Innovation Gateway does not allow funding for indirect expenses incurred at VCU or other organizations where the project's milestones may be completed.

Criteria for funding

  1. The work must be directly related to a completed invention disclosure submitted to VCU Innovation Gateway prior to the submission of the funding application.
  2. The proposed work is expected to make the invention available to the public faster in the form of a new product or a service.

Types of work that could be funded: 

  • Prototype development
  • Generation of data (animal data, etc.) for marketing of the invention
  • Development of new applications for a disclosed technology
  • Minor software coding and user interface work
  • Other work at the discretion of VCU Innovation Gateway

Types of work that will not to be funded:

  • Technologies not disclosed to VCU Innovation Gateway
  • Technologies that are ready to be optioned/licensed to a company 

Scoring criteria

The Proof of Concept Review Board will evaluate proposals based on the following criteria. Please note that strong proposals will need to reach completion in 12 months or less.

  1. What is the market need for this product and does the applicant have a clear understanding of the opportunity?
  2. What is the technical risk associated with the project and does the applicant have a clear understanding of that risk?
  3. Are there clear development milestones for the project that are associated with a realistic timeline?
  4. Evaluation of the team
  5. Is there a clear budget with transparent and efficient use of funds related to the milestones?
  6. ­What is the general strength of the proposal and potential of the technology, including potential for intellectual property protection?

Reporting progress

Award recipients will report project progress and accomplishments at their scheduled checkpoints or milestones. A brief final report will be submitted within 30 days of project completion and all participants will be invited for follow-up evaluation. A brief annual status report will be required for three years to assist in evaluating the proof of concept program and determining its direct and indirect benefits, including follow-up funding, licenses, creation of start-up companies, as well as new products or services based on the funded technologies.