New UTK Chancellor’s Innovation Fund accepting proposals

Administered by the Office of Research, Innovation, and Economic Development (ORIED), the new fund is designed to raise awareness, promote innovation, and support entrepreneurship for UTK’s promising innovators.

Faculty at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) will be submitting proposals for the new Chancellor’s Innovation Fund (CIF) within the next two weeks.

Administered by the Office of Research, Innovation, and Economic Development (ORIED), the new fund is designed to raise awareness, promote innovation, and support entrepreneurship for UTK’s promising innovators. By doing so, ORIED will be able to support the commercialization of new technologies, the launch of technology-based start-ups, and provide funding for entrepreneurial opportunities for faculty members and researchers across the campus and its institutes.

“We expect to award up to five proposals in the first round at up to $50,000 each,” said Rob Coleman, ORIED’s Director of Entrepreneurship and New Ventures, noting that a multi-stage process starts with the submission of a proposal by the deadline of 5 p.m. EDT on August 25.

“The Chancellor’s Innovation Fund is an important program for alignment and tie-in with our other UTK entrepreneurial programs, including the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program and UT Research Foundation’s (UTRF) Venture Fund and Entrepreneurial Fellowship programs,” Coleman explained. “Through close cooperation with UTRF and other associated organizations, we will establish the Chancellor’s Innovation Fund as a primary pathway for entrepreneurial growth across campus.”

A special CIF Selection Committee will evaluate the submissions based on specific criteria and select semi-finalists by mid-September to move to the next stage, a pitch competition in mid-October where the semi-finalists will have 10 minutes to pitch the problem they are addressing and the solution they propose.

Winners will be announced in early November.

Evaluation will be based on the proposer’s ability to address an unmet market need, the current state of technology, the proposed technology development plan, and the funding’s impact on commercialization. Scoring guidelines include:

  • Feasibility where the technical viability and commercialization opportunity for the proposed technology is detailed along with a robust plan for developing this capability.
  • Stage of development and intellectual property status to include the current state of development along with data and other proof points that support further development efforts. Proposals should also explain how this technology is protected, via disclosures, patents, copyrights, or other agreements.
  • Market Potential that includes a comprehensive view of the commercial market and an explanation of how the proposed technology will solve current problems, address customer needs, and differentiate itself from other competitive products or services.
  • Impact of Award on Commercial Development where the submitter explains how the funding will be used to strengthen technology development, accelerate the path to commercialization, and provide resources necessary to create a viable product or service.

More information and a description of the application process can be found here.