Tufts Launchpad | Accelerator
The Tufts Launchpad | Accelerator (TLA) is a grant program funded by the University to address the greatest challenge in academic technology transfer, which is the funding gap – often referred to as the “valley of death” – between where federal funding of basic research ends and commercial interest begins.
In many instances, university generated technologies and inventions, at the point at which they are disclosed to the technology transfer office, are just too early to attract established companies or investors interested in funding a start-up. The goal of the TLA Program is to advance Tufts invented technologies along a path toward product development, de-risking technologies by moving them past a critical risk/valuation point. Examples might include, in the case of a molecular target for drug intervention, generation of hits or candidate leads, or in the case of a therapeutic candidate, demonstration of efficacy in a relevant preclinical disease model, or in the case of a device or instrument, development of a prototype. The application process for the second round of funding is outlined below.
Meet the TLA Manager
Tufts Launchpad | Biolabs (TLB) Liaison
Tufts Launchpad | Accelerator (TLA) Manager, and an Assistant Director in the office of Technology Transfer
To accelerate research projects towards one of the following outcomes:
- Securing follow-on industrial funding for continued R&D.
- Forming a start-up company.
- Licensing technology to an established company.
The Tufts Launchpad | Accelerator (TLA) Program is designed to support translational research aimed at extending preliminary observations, establishing proof-of-concept, scaling-up a product or process, and generating (or enhancing) intellectual property (IP) positions.
Only applicants who meet and agree to the following criteria will be considered eligible to submit an application.
- The Principal Investigator (PI) must be a full-time Tufts faculty member or emeritus faculty with an active University research lab.
- The PI must have an invention disclosure on file with the Office for Technology Transfer and Industry Collaboration (OTTIC), upon which the proposed project will be based, prior to applying.
- The technology, which provides the basis for the project proposal, must not yet be licensed or optioned to a third-party.
- The IP surrounding the invention disclosure must be owned by Tufts. Please contact OTTIC if you are unsure of the IP ownership of your invention. If IP is jointly owned with another institution, an inter-institutional agreement (IIA) must be in place with Tufts designated as the commercialization lead.
- The project proposal must be focused on commercial product development or testing. Funding cannot be used for basic exploratory studies or as general funding for the PI’s lab. Projects should address how achieving identified project milestones will move that invention towards commercialization.
- Only one TLA project may be submitted per PI per funding cycle. Investigators with multiple technology disclosures should focus their proposal on the most commercially promising technology within their portfolio.
- If you are a previous TLA Program recipient and your project is still in progress and/or still receiving TLA Program funding, you are ineligible to apply.
- Each project milestone should be achievable within 6 months. The first project milestone should be achievable within 6 months of the start of funding within the requested budget.
- You must adhere to the template and word limitations in the application. Any words over the maximum allowed will be deleted and not evaluated.
- By submitting this application, you acknowledge that your project proposal is eligible for submission based on the criteria set forth above.
- Only applicants submitting an application and who are subsequently invited to present their work to the external evaluation committee will be considered eligible for funding.
If you are asked to present to the external evaluation committee you must be able to:
- Work closely with your case manager from OTTIC to develop a presentation in PowerPoint format.
- Be available for at least 2 in-person meetings with the OTTIC team to discuss your project and conduct mock presentations.
- Present your proposed project to the external review committee on the date and time selected for you.
- Work with the TLA Program team to negotiate the appropriate milestones and budget to complete the work.
- Recognize that funding will be determined by the external evaluation committee to align with the work necessary to achieve proof-of -concept and return unused funds upon completion of your final milestone.
- Upon selection for funding, participate in commercialization related activities and provide regular updates to the program team.
- Awards will be up to $75,000 per project, although larger requests will be considered.
- The TLA Program will generally fund 4-6 projects each year.
- Funding is for direct costs only and is not subject to Tufts’ Facilities & Administrative (F&A) Costs on Sponsored Awards: Recovery and Distribution policy.
Proposed projects should last between 12 to 18 months
- The PI will lead and oversee the project.
- The project team may include Tufts’ post docs and grad students in addition to the PI.
- All IP, including background patents, must be assigned to Tufts.
- Budget items may not include salaries or capital equipment. Certain other types of expenses are also excluded (for example, cost share on sponsored awards).
- Upon completion of each milestone, the PI will submit a brief (one-half to one page) milestone summary to the TLA Program (Farnaz.Bakhshi@tufts.edu).
- Any change in project scope or use of funds requires prior approval (for example, any extensions).
- Within thirty (30) days of completion of the project, the PI will submit a final report to the TLA Program (Farnaz.Bakhshi@tufts.edu).
- Applications are due on March 1, 2020.
- Applications must be received no later than midnight on the day of the deadline in Microsoft Word (.doc/.docx) or PDF (.pdf) format. Applications should be submitted by e-mail to Farnaz.Bakhshi@tufts.edu. The subject line should read “Tufts Launchpad | Accelerator Application.”
- All applications are non-confidential.
- Applications will be reviewed internally, and a subset of applicants will be invited to present to the external evaluation committee comprising entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and industry leaders.
- Applications chosen for presentation to the external evaluation committee will be announced April 6, 2020.
- Presentations to the external evaluation committee will not be kept confidential and should only contain non-confidential materials.
- Solicited presentations will be due on May 4, 2020.
- Funded projects will be selected based on feedback from the external evaluation committee. All applicants will be notified of funding decisions by June 1, 2020.
- The review criteria will emphasize the commercial potential of the research project; the existence of (or possibility of filing) intellectual property; and the delineation of a clear R&D roadmap detailing how TLA funding will lead to a value-creation inflection point.
- Particular consideration will be given to those projects that could result in a start-up company.
- March 1, 2020: Deadline to submit non-confidential applications
- April 6, 2020: Announce decisions / solicit presentations
- May 4, 2020: Deadline to submit non-confidential solicited presentations
- TBD: Present to the external evaluation committee
- June 1, 2020: Announce funding decisions
- July 15, 2020: Funds released for awarded projects
In January, the Office of the Vice Provost for Research introduced the Tufts Launchpad | Accelerator (TLA), a program designed to support translational research aimed at extending preliminary observations, establishing proof-of-concept, scaling-up a product or process, and generating or enhancing intellectual property positions. For this first funding cycle, nine applications were received and reviewed with input from an external evaluation committee comprising venture capitalists, industry experts and business leaders. The applications listed below received awards ranging from $20,000-$75,000.
Principal Investigator: Prashant Deshlahra, Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering, School of Engineering
Principal Investigator: Krishna Kumar, Department of Chemistry, School of Arts & Sciences
Principal Investigator: Valencia Koomson, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, School of Engineering
Principal Investigator: Chunmei Li, Department of Biological Engineering, School of Engineering
Principal Investigator: Charles Mace, Department of Chemistry, School of Arts & Sciences
Principal Investigator: Qiaobing Xu, Department of Biological Engineering, School of Engineering