The Catalyst Grant Program supports discovery – the creation of new knowledge – and innovation – bringing ideas to the broadest possible audience through commercialization. Successful grants must be built on strong science as judged by expert reviewers and clear commercialization outcomes that move technologies closer to market. UWM has a broad array of scientists working in many fields of discovery, and commercialization outcomes vary depending on the stage of discovery or the technology. But in all cases, the common thread is the dedicated and creative researchers – faculty, students, and staff – that make it all happen. The Program is designed to focus on areas where UWM has the greatest potential to impact the local economy through commercialization activities including science and engineering.
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Investigators will be asked to submit a short abstract of one to two pages. A limited number of full proposals will be invited based on assessment of the commercial and intellectual property potential by the UWM Research Foundation. Full proposals will be reviewed by external reviewers. Final recommendations to the funding organization(s) will be made based on external assessments and commercial assessment by the UWM Research Foundation.
**Abstracts should be submitted in PDF form to: firstname.lastname@example.org. This short abstract should not exceed two total pages. Budget, CV and WISPER record are not required at the abstract stage. A complete budget is not required at this stage, as well.
Scientific reviewers will be asked to prioritize all reviewed proposals and rank proposals against national standards (top 10%, next 40%, bottom 50%)
Applications will be reviewed by entrepreneurs and/or investors and asked to rank proposals based on the following criteria:
Qualifying grants will be reviewed by the UWM Research Foundation following the program’s goal of fostering economic development and made based on the following criteria:
One of the goals of the program is to foster the development of intellectual property and the commercialization of UWM technologies. It is a requirement of the program that the proposed work be directly related to an active intellectual property matter with the UWM Research Foundation. This may include an invention disclosure already submitted to UWMRF, a new invention disclosure related to the proposal (new disclosures should be submitted in advance of the abstract deadline), an active patent application (provisional or utility application), an issued patent managed by UWMRF or an active copyright matter.
Confirmation: You should receive a confirmation that your abstract has been received within one business day of submitting it. If you do not receive a confirmation email, please contact the UWM Research Foundation immediately.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) created the Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program to help accelerate the transfer of academic research into the marketplace. Leading entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley have worked to adapt the “lean launch” methodology for faculty around the country to help researchers better understand the markets of their technologies. In 2015, UWM and the UWM Research Foundation were awarded a three-year grant from NSF to bring this important program to Milwaukee, creating the first NSF I-Corps Site in Wisconsin. This methodology is a natural complement to the Catalyst Grant Program. The Catalyst Grant Program pairs strong science with strong commercial potential, and I-Corps helps researchers understand and validate the commercial potential for their work. Several teams funded by Catalyst Grants have used I-Corps to better understand the path to market. And I-Corps is now used on the front end of the Catalyst Grant Program.
Dr. Junhong Chen received one of the first catalyst grants in 2008, and his Catalyst Grant award in 2011 was instrumental in refining the sensor platform that is the basis for his startup company, NanoAffix Science, LLC., that is working to bring a novel sensor technology patented and licensed by the UWMRF to market. Since then, Dr. Chen has attracted more than $7.7 million in grants and received more than a dozen awards from the National Science Foundation for his innovative research.
Dr. Dave Clark’s Catalyst Grant in 2014 was a pilot project to examine ways to create software tools to serve a need he had identified among regional companies. Dr. Clark participated in the NSF Milwaukee I-Corps Program as well as the national I-Corps program where he and his team conducted more than 200 customer interviews. Informed by the valuable market insight, Dr. Clark is using his 2016 Catalyst Grant to create the first marketable product.
Catalyst Grants (2012 and 2014) were instrumental in the creation of UWM’s latest startup company, SafeLi, LLC., launched in 2017 by Dr. Carol Hirschmugl and Dr. Marija Gajdardziska-Josifovska. Through the NSF I-Corps entrepreneurial training program, the team was able to define a target market for their technologies. They have recently completed a license agreement with the UWMRF, and are pursuing support to prove the technology in battery applications.