Technology Maturation Fund Program Request for Proposals

New Program Funds Five Clemson Technologies For Commercialization

The Clemson University Research Foundation (CURF) announced Thursday that it has awarded funding to five Clemson researchers to further develop their Clemson technologies through a newly established program, the CURF Technology Maturation Fund.

“The CURF Technology Maturation Fund is unlike any other source of funding available to Clemson faculty,” said Casey Porto, executive director of CURF. “This funding supports the last critical step that will significantly increase the likelihood of commercialization of Clemson intellectual property.”

Only Clemson faculty members are eligible for the fund while postdoctoral research associates, graduate students and undergraduate students may participate as co-investigators

Winning projects ranged from approximately $20,000 to $36,000 each.

  • Apparao Rao, R.A. Bowen professor of physics and the director of Clemson’s Nanomaterials Research Laboratory, will optimize his roll-to-roll process for carbon nanotube electrode production to make it viable for industrial manufacturing. His team will identify ideal electrolytes, separators and assemble and test prototype devices in collaboration with a commercial partner.
  • Alexey Vertegel, associate professor of bioengineering, has developed a new technology for manufacturing cost-effective natural antioxidants. This patented Clemson technology will be used in a scale-up study to produce two to three tons of antioxidant that can be tested by potential customers to accelerate commercialization.
  • Modi Wetzler, research assistant professor of chemistry, will demonstrate the improved properties of peptides by incorporating his team’s patented pre-PEGylated amino acids and scale-up the synthesis so that there is enough material to distribute to at least 10 collaborators who will, in turn, perform research and publish, thus demonstrating the research market for these new PEGylated amino acids.

The CURF Technology Maturation Fund was established to further enhance the research and innovation culture at Clemson while raising the awareness of Clemson research in the innovation and investment communities. Proposals were solicited through a request for proposals issued by CURF last May. CURF expects to issue another solicitation for proposals next spring.

“We congratulate the Clemson researchers who received funding in the first round of the CURF Technology Maturation Fund,” said CURF board chair Frank Landgraff. “We are excited to support innovation and investment in Clemson research, enabling more Clemson ideas to move from the lab to the marketplace.”


CLEMSON UNIVERSITY RESEARCH FOUNDATION Technology Maturation Fund Program Request for Proposals

RFP Date: May 9, 2014

Response Deadline:   June 30, 2014

This document explains the Technology Maturation Fund, a program managed by the Clemson University Research Foundation (CURF). Unlike any other source of funding available to Clemson faculty, the purpose of this funding is solely to support the last critical step that will significantly increase the likelihood of commercialization of Clemson intellectual property.

Criteria for Proposal Evaluation

Proposals will be evaluated on the following specific criteria:

1. Required Relationship to Existing Intellectual Property: Proposed projects must involve intellectual property that has already resulted in a patent(s), patent application(s), or copyright, and these items should be referenced as part of your proposal by including the appropriate CURF Case ID. Contact a CURF representative to verify ID and status of intellectual property as needed.

2. Demonstrated Path to Commercialization: The request for funding should be sufficient to achieve a measurable milestone in the commercialization process. The types of activities which will be selected for funding will be those that advance the intellectual property or technology to a state where it will be able to be licensed to a commercial entity. In most cases, this funding should be the last resource expended which will result in a license to an outside entity which could not have otherwise been achieved. What is currently preventing a company from licensing your technology? What specific question does your prospective licensee want to have answered before they will consummate a license? The maturation project is intended to address this specific barrier, thereby enabling a license. Proposed activities might include:

•            prototype development

•             field testing

•             generation of data that would be suitable to show prospective licensees

•             generation of samples

In addition to a final report which will be required of all awardees, tangible deliverables may also be required, such as data reports, demonstration of prototypes which have been developed, etc. Proposals for the purpose of equipment purchase will be ranked lower than proposals which outline other tasks as listed above. Proposals should clearly outline steps, timeline, and deliverables anticipated. Also, explain why you believe that the activity you are proposing will make the intellectual property more licensable.

If a commercial company has expressed an interest in licensing the intellectual property pending the successful completion of the proposed activities and this interest is documented in the proposal package, preference for funding will be given to the proposal. Please list commercial interactions to date as further evidence of potential commercial interest and provide any support letters from appropriate commercial companies. Examples of appropriate commercial companies include but are not limited to potential licensees, manufacturers, and influential end users.  Proposers are strongly cautioned to avoid making promises or commitments of any kind to potential partners pending the announcement of the funding awards.

3. Technical Merit of the Project: Please explain the technical merit of your project in a way that the selection committee (who may be from different disciplines) can appreciate your technical approach and the distinctive competitive advantage achieved through this approach. Please note that the focus of this proposal should be market and commercialization outcomes, not technical detail.

Guidelines for Preparing Proposals

Funding Availability:

The total amount of funding available will vary each year and the number of proposals funded will depend on the quality of proposals received. Awards will be made at the sole discretion of CURF. When putting together your budget request, please remember that the projects that we expect to fund will be short-turnaround, low dollar requests that have tangible outcomes. This is not traditional research funding.


Any Clemson faculty member who has had interactions with CURF via the invention disclosure and patenting or copyright process is eligible to submit a proposal for the maturation of their already- disclosed intellectual property. Postdoctoral research associates, graduate students, and undergraduate students may participate as co-investigators but are not eligible to lead a project as principal investigator.  As a first step in preparing your proposal, please consult with your Technology Commercialization Officer (TCO) about your desire to participate. Your TCO will be able to provide information about the process and help you to prepare your proposal to its best advantage. Contact information is included below.

Submission of Proposals:

Proposals are due by 5 pm, June 30, 2014. Applicants should complete the Proposal Processing Form (PPF), attach the proposal and submit to your OSP Support Center for review of proposal requirements and budget calculations. When signed by the Associate Dean for Research, applicants should submit the application package via email to: Melody Land, Executive Assistant, CURF (

Proposal Format:

Proposals should include the sections listed below.  The overall length of the proposal should not exceed three pages. It is not necessary to submit CVs.

A.   Title Section

  • Project title
  • List of PI and other investigators, and college and departments (or affiliations). Include only Clemson personnel who will work on the project.
  • PI contact information:  phone number and email address.

B.    Abstract

  • The 1-2 paragraph abstract should briefly explain the central idea of the proposal and the ultimate objectives.

C.    Summary Information

  • Proposed budget, timeline of project including start date and targeted end date, all key milestones and capital equipment. There will be no F&A on these projects so please do not include F&A in your estimate.
  • Status of intellectual property. List the patents, patent applications or copyrights for which the proposal is intended to be a maturation project.  Consult with your designated CURF TCO to confirm CURF ID of related cases.

D.   Narrative:

  • Background/Opportunity/Benefits:  State the specific benefits to be derived from a successful pursuit of the project, including the specific transactions such as licensing that are anticipated.
  • Technical Approach: Describe the nature of the work and the ultimate commercialization objectives of the project. If appropriate, break down the proposed approach into a series of tasks. Each task should have a clearly defined deliverable. Include any plans to leverage external resources (e.g., collaborations with other universities or industrial partners). This section should contain enough information so that a technical evaluation of the proposal can be made, including judgment of the soundness of the project plan, likelihood of its success, and adequacy of facilities, equipment, and workforce.
  • Commercialization Approach: Describe your commercialization strategy for continuing this effort after the Technology Maturation project is completed. Identify specific probable future commercial licensee(s). Your strategy should have sufficient specificity such that future commercial licensing success can be traced to projections made here.
  • Budget: Describe your budget in terms of the following categories: 1) personnel, 2) materials, and 3) “other” if there are uses of funds for items other than personnel and materials.

Contact Information

Lisa Perpall, Technology Commercialization Officer (


Vincie Albritton, Deputy Director of CURF (
Casey Porto, Executive Director of CURF (