Proof-of-Concept Awards Program

Advancing promising UIC innovations addressing a commercial need

The POC Awards Program is a powerful way to advance innovative research and translate it into impactful business ventures. The program provides up to $200,000 per project over two phases to advance UIC innovations. Projects consist of a defined set of milestones that, when completed, help overcome hurdles to commercialization. The program is managed in partnership with the Office of Technology Management.

  • 67 POC projects funded

  • $4.4M Total funding awarded

  • 10 Start-up companies formed

See list of previously funded projects

POC Project Proposals

Specific details for submitting POC proposals.

The aim of the UIC Proof of Concept (POC) Awards Program is to accelerate the commercialization of technologies being developed at UIC by helping to bridge the funding gap that often exists between translational research and commercialization.

Projects must be focused on commercial product development or testing. The outcome of a UIC POC award should demonstrate commercial viability and position the technology for industry or investor engagement.

Project criteria:

  • Strong protectable IP
  • High commercial potential
  • Low execution risk
  • Measurable milestones

POC funding cannot be used for basic exploratory studies or as general funding for the PI’s lab. Project proposals should address how achieving identified project milestones will move the invention towards commercialization.

Phase I projects will receive up to $50,000 over a six-month period to develop a technology or invention towards important milestones critical for commercialization.

Projects that successfully complete Phase 1 milestones may be eligible for Phase II funding.

Phase II awards provide up to $150,000 over a 12-month period to support further development of completed Phase I projects.

Final award amount will be determined by the scope of work and contingent upon successful completion of milestones developed according to input from selection committee.

In addition to funding, selected projects will receive support from the Office of Technology Management to provide guidance on commercial development including market landscape, IP analysis, and industry feedback on commercially relevant milestones.

Applicants must be full-time UIC full time faculty, staff, and researchers with dedicated research space and resources and have an invention disclosure on file with the Office of Technology Management. The invention disclosure must be submitted prior to the submission of a POC pre-proposal. Forms and instructions on disclosing a technology can be found here: OTM Submit your idea.   Any questions, please contact a technology manager.

The technology or invention the proposal is based on must not be exclusively licensed or encumbered by any other prior obligations that would prohibit commercialization.

To apply, investigators must submit an application. The application is available here.

The application requests the following:

  • Technology Background – Present a high-level overview of your technology and how it will address a problem in the market.
  • Rationale and Significance – Describe the technical rationale behind your studies.
  • Key Studies – List 3-5 key steps/studies you need to achieve in order to demonstrate and validate commercial viability for Phase I of the study. Success parameters and an estimated budget should be provided for each step or study listed.
  • Project Risk and Mitigation – Identify current technical or commercial risks associated with your technology and how your proposed project will address these risks and thus, significantly impact the commercial potential of your technology. Also, describe how the commercial competitiveness of your technology will increase after the proposed project is successfully completed, and what your next steps are in the development/commercialization process.
    • Competitive Advantage – Describe the technology’s development to date. Explain what will differentiate your technology in the market place and create a competitive advantage for your product. Also, provide any industry-specific feedback that you have received on the competitive advantage of your technology and its ability to fulfill an unmet need in the marketplace.
  • Appendix – A maximum of one page of supporting data or references may be included.

Applications are reviewed by an internal committee composed of UIC faculty, technology managers from the OTM, and other select individuals from across the campus. Applications are evaluated based on scientific merit and the feasibility of completing the project within the requested budget and timeframe.

Selected applicants will be asked to present a pitch of their proposal, which will consist of:

  • PowerPoint presentation
  • Detailed budget

Finalists will participate in project planning meetings and mock pitches with the Office of Technology Management as they prepare for the final pitch day presentation.

Finalists will be selected by December 1st and will have an opportunity to pitch their proposal to an external review committee of industry and investment experts.

The final presentation review committee will be a multidisciplinary committee of scientists, industry professionals, and investors, from outside of the University. POC awardees will be selected based on the project’s ability to successfully prepare the technology for commercialization within the scope of the proposed studies and within the requested budget and timeframe.

Apply now

Submission Deadlines

Oct 1 Applications open
Nov 2 Deadline to submit application
Dec 1 POC finalists announced
Week of Feb 1 Final pitch day
Week of Feb 8 POC winners announced