One of the major challenges in commercializing university technology is the prototype funding gap—the void between early stage research and a technology that is ready for the marketplace. It is not unusual for university research to evolve to a point where obtaining federal research funding is difficult because the work is too applied. Obtaining industrial or venture capital support is often problematic as well because the work is considered too early or too risky.
The goal of technology-to-market gap funding is to break down these barriers to industry licensing of university technology or investment funding of start-up companies based on university technology. Gap funding helps the inventor reduce an invention to practice (proof-of-concept), develop more experimental data for better patent applications, or make an invention or copyright more commercially interesting to a company or an investor.
Proposal submission is currently closed. UNMRI will be accepting proposals again in September 2024.
In order to be eligible for funding from the Gap Fund @ UNM, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be a faculty member at the University of New Mexico
- Have disclosed the underlying technology in your proposal to UNM Rainforest Innovations in an invention or copyright disclosure form before submitting your proposal for gap funding
- The underlying technology must be unlicensed
Projects will be selected for funding through a review process. A Gap Fund @ UNM Committee, comprised of UNM, UNM Rainforest Innovations, and business community members, will evaluate the proposals for the merit and uniqueness of the technology as well as its potential for commercialization. Some of the questions to be considered by the committee are:
- Is the project technically sound?
- How novel is the technology? Is it likely to lead to patents or other forms of intellectual property?
- Is the proof-of-concept reasonably feasible to justify funding a project at this time?
- Can the project be successfully completed within the timeframe and budget indicated?
- Does there appear to be a strong market need for the product?
- Would the product have sufficient advantages and features to give it a sustainable competitive advantage?
- Does your perception of the market opportunity—relative to market size, ease of entry, competitive situation, etc.—justify the project cost?
- Will licensing and/or new company formation be difficult or easy?
The following outline of section titles below is a guide for proposal content:
- Project title, PI(s) name(s), department(s), and contact information
- An Abstract (no more than 500 words)
- List related UNM Rainforest Innovations technology reference number(s)
- Background Information (what need does this project address?)
- Current State of the Technology
- Timeline (including milestones) (please note that projects can be for no longer than one year)
- Required (if applicable) Regulatory Approvals (IRB, etc.)
- Market (What do you believe are the application(s) and market(s) for the technology?)
- Deliverables (What do you anticipate the outcome to be and the work product to contain? Please include the preparation of a final report as one of the deliverables.)
- Budget (your budget, not to exceed the $25,000 funding limit, can include, but is not limited to, costs and purchases, such as):
- salaries and benefits (excludes using the funds for faculty salary compensation)
- UNM-owned equipment
- shipping and handling
There is no indirect cost applied to the project and no required page limit for the proposal document.
Supplementary supporting documents and full proposal writeup may also be uploaded under Additional Files via the online portal.
The submission period has closed for 2023. For questions about the proposal process, contact the following UNM Rainforest Innovations staff member: