SPARK-VT Mission

• To accelerate the process of moving discoveries into the marketplace.
• To develop an environment at UVM that fosters and facilitates moving innovative, collaborative research toward commercialization.
• To increase the competitiveness for research funding involving small business and/or commercialization.
• To educate faculty, fellows and students on how to transition innovative ideas and discoveries into commercial applications.

SPARK-VT Application Review Process

Proposals will be reviewed and screened by the SPARK-VT Steering Committee. Eligible proposals will then be sent to Fuentek for an Initial Technology Review before being sent for review and scoring to the program’s external consultant panel. This consultant panel is comprised of a group of highly-accomplished leaders from the legal, device, pharmaceutical, technology, and venture capitalist sectors. The consultant panel will score the proposals and establish an overall ranking to invite the top applicants to present their project to the consultant panel in mid-June, 2021.
Projects selected for funding will receive milestones and progress metrics to ensure the project's steady progress. A progress report meeting will be held approximately six-months from the project's start where investigators will report their findings and challenges and receive continued input and advice from the consultant panel.
Award amounts range from $25,000 to a maximum of $45,000. Funding is awarded from the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR). Funds must be applied to specific tasks that advance a discovery/technology towards a commercial application.

SPARK-VT Application Review Timeline

• Proposals must be submitted by January 31, 2021

• The SPARK-VT Program’s Steering Committee will review and validate each proposal and budget submission for completeness. Any proposal that is screened out will be returned to the applicant(s) by February, 15, 2021 with the reason for return.

• Proposals that are deemed eligible for the program will be sent to Fuentek for a comprehensive Initial Technology Review. It is anticipated that this review will be completed by March 31, 2021

• Proposals and their corresponding Fuentek Initial Technology Review report will be sent to the SPARK-VT Program’s external consultant panel for review and scoring. It is anticipated that this review will be completed by April 30, 2021.

• Applicants can anticipate receiving the Fuentek Initial Technology Review report and the scores and comments their proposal received from the consultant panel by mid May 2021. As part of this process, the proposals that are selected for presentation to the SPARK-VT external consultant panel will be identified.

• A proposal presentation workshop with a recommended slide deck will be held in late-May 2021 to help applicants prepare for the presentation meeting.

• The SPARK-VT Proposal Presentation meeting will be held on June 25, 2021

• Funding decisions will be made by mid-July 2021

Criteria for Project Consideration & Investigator Eligibility Criteria

Interested Applicants must:
1. Review their project with UVM Innovations to ensure the project meets the SPARK-VT Program’s eligibility threshold. UVM Innovations will help applicants assess the intellectual property status of their innovation. Applicants who fail to meet with UVM Innovations prior to submitting an application will be ineligible to participate.
2. Meet UVM’s Faculty Principal Investigator Eligibility Guidelines to be eligible to apply for SPARK-VT program award.
3. Award Recipients will be required to meet the conditions set forth in UVM’s Intellectual Property Policy. Only projects that have their intellectual property assigned to UVM will be considered.

Workshops

Interested parties are strongly encouraged to attend the SPARK-VT  Lectures and Workshops.
Successful SPARK applicants will be required to attend either the UNY iCorps Regional short course  or the 2021 iTREP Technology Commercialization workshop during the first year of their award.

How to Apply for SPARK-VT Funding?

Requirements for 2021-22 are to submit the following information on a maximum of 3 pages.

  1. Name of Principal Investigator(s) and Co-Investigator(s) and corresponding home college/school and department.
  2. Description of proposed project (i.e., new system, software, drug, device, etc.)
  3. Description of underlying basis of the invention:
    • What is the unique technology that you are providing with your product?
    • How novel, revolutionary and/or revolutionary is it?
    • Comparison to the current “standard practice” in effectiveness and cost?
  4. Description of product and market:
    • Problem addressed and product indication/need
      • Potential customers
    • Brief scope of market
      • Size of potential market
      • Growth of market
  5. Potential competitors
  6. SPARK project objectives - Impact of award money toward achieving commercial success
  7. Development plan - describe your short term and long term development path; do you intend to license the technology through UVM Innovations to an existing company, apply for SBIR/STTR funding, and/or create a start- up company, etc?
  8. Applicant credentials – provide a brief description of your background and experience to demonstrate your credentials; list any potential collaborator(s) who will complement your expertise; and, if applicable, describe any unique infrastructural/facilities advantages at your disposal.
  9. Anticipated budget – provide an itemized budget by category (i.e., personnel, supplies, equipment, etc.) and a brief budget justification. Please note that faculty salary cannot be part of the budget.

Consolidate application into a single PDF file adhering to the following guidelines:

• 3 pages max (2 pages proposal and 1 page budget & budget justification
• Single spaced
• 1/2" margins
• 11 point Arial font


Deadline
Completed PDF applications must be emailed to innovate@uvm.edu no later than midnight, January 31, 2021.