University Proof of Concept and Seed Funds
Applying to the FUNDS
A) First Contact
A researcher wishing to apply for Funds should contact either the Technology Transfer Manager at Isis Innovation with whom they are already working or the Seed Fund Manager at Isis Innovation (email@example.com) to be put in touch with the appropriate Technology Transfer Manager.
B) Selection of Fund
A single application is made to UCSF/OIF. Successful applications are offered funding from either fund on the same terms. The Proof of Concept Fund is fully committed and is not able to accept new applications.
C) Complete A Project Summary Form
After an initial meeting and assuming that you wish to continue with your proposal, it will be necessary to complete an Application Form. The Form should be completed by you together with the Isis Technology Transfer Manager. Where monies are to be paid into your Department, the form will need to be signed by the head of your department or departmental administrator and then returned to Isis Innovation.
This form will start the proposal evaluation procedure. An Isis Innovation Technology Transfer Manager will take responsibility to progress the project and keep you informed of progress.
D) Investment Types
There are a number of different types of project activity on which the Funds may invest:
- Proof of concept
- Pre-patent research
- Reduction to practice
- Commercial demonstration or Prototype
- Business planning support
- Spin-out company
The Funds may make investments into University Departments, into new spin-out companies and for the provision of external services (e.g. market research, business planning).
E) Investment Evaluation And Decision
The next step is for a more detailed investment proposal to be prepared. The format for this Investment Proposal Form is available from Isis, and will be prepared by the Isis Technology Transfer Manager, together with the researcher(s). The extent of appropriate additional information will depend upon the scale and nature of the proposed investment. This Proposal will be signed by the researcher(s), departmental head/administrator as appropriate, and Isis, and then circulated to the members of the Investment Advisory Committee for their review before presentation to the University. Depending upon the timing of its meetings, and the scale and nature of the proposed investment, the researchers may be invited to present the proposal to the Investment Advisory Committee.
The Investment Advisory Committee was appointed by the University to advise about all aspects of these Funds. The current members of the Investment Advisory Committee are as follows:-
- Mr Bernard Taylor, Chairman of Isis Innovation
- Professor John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine
- Mr Nigel Keen, Chairman of Oxford Instruments plc
- Mr Giles Kerr, Director of Finance University of Oxford
- Dr Tim Cook, Technology company non-executive director
- Professor Steve Davies, Waynflete Professor of Chemistry
- Mrs Ann Hacker, Technology company non-executive director
- Professor Lionel Tarassenko, Director of the IBME
This committee meets on a regular basis to review the positions of the Funds and discuss the investment proposals that are presented to it by Isis Innovation.
The Investment Advisory Committee reviews investments for the University to approve. Our aim at Isis is to ensure that decisions can be made quickly and with the minimum of additional paper work for researcher(s) and their department(s).
F) Investment Criteria
The key criteria for evaluating pre-spin-out projects are:-
- Innovation of the science: How novel is the approach compared with
other research in the field?
- Intellectual property: What does the backdrop of prior art look
- Background of the key people: Who are the key researchers etc.?
- Commercial opportunity: Can the research be turned into a sustainable business?
In the case of spin-out proposals the criteria are as follows:-
- Strong technology and IP base
- Products and/or services that offer a potential competitive advantage
- A strong business leader/entrepreneur
- Clear growth prospects
G) Offer Letter
If the proposal is approved, Isis Innovation will prepare an Offer Letter on behalf of the University, that details the amount to be invested and the terms of the investment. This Offer Letter will need to be signed by the researcher(s). The University Finance Division will on receipt of the signed Offer Letter release the funds to the appropriate destination.
H) Monitoring The Investment
Usually the Isis Innovation Technology Transfer Manager will have identified and agreed with the researcher(s) a set of “milestones”. These milestones will form the basis of the monitoring process. The Investment Advisory Committee meet on a quarterly basis and will expect progress reports on all the major investments.
We recognise that it may be difficult to identify clear end points in all cases, but some method of progress reporting will need to be agreed.
I) Investment Returns
Fund investments must offer the prospect of a financial return. Each award is made under the terms set out in the pro forma Offer Letter. The normal Decrees and Statutes will apply when dealing with the exploitation of Intellectual Property. In the case of spin-outs, the equity split is agreed between the University and the researcher(s) on a case by case basis, assisted by Isis Innovation.
We expect to be able to process investment proposals within four to eight weeks of receipt of the Project Summary Form, depending on the complexity of the proposal.
K) Payment Of Funds
The approved proposals are sent to the University Finance Division for payment once the signed Offer Letters have been received. The department receiving the funds will be advised of the award together with the accounting and reporting requirements.