Michigan University ADVANCE Grant Proof-of-Concept Fund

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The MSU Innovation Center is proud to manage and administer the University Early-Stage Proof-of-Concept Fund known hereafter as the ADVANCE Grant Program sponsored by Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) on behalf of all public universities throughout the State of Michigan. https://www.michiganbusiness.org/services/entrepreneurial-opportunity/un... University Early-Stage Proof-of-Concept Fund is designed to closely align with other programs (e.g., MTRAC, T3N, First Capital Fund), as well as angel and venture capital within the State to provide a pipeline of de-risked technologies and fundable startup opportunities for further advancement. The ADVANCE Grant program like MTRAC, will provide a strong incentive for faculty with early-stage technologies at the Michigan public universities to engage with their university’s Technology Transfer Office (TTO) and commercialization activities. Technologies, TTOs and inventors that receive funding under the ADVANCE Grant Program will benefit through achievement of critical early-stage milestones such as proof-of-concept or market opportunity validation which will lead to follow-on commercialization activities.


Data have shown that successful university TTOs must now actively advance portfolio technologies instead of merely screening, protecting, and marketing technologies. There is currently a gap in the capital continuum in the State that the ADVANCE Grant Program will fill. These funds will be used at an early stage (TRL 1-4) to determine the most actionable market application, the most viable business model, and confirm the proof-of-concept for a targeted application with our customer discovery process. These funds will be matched and complimented 1:1 by university “gap” funds to further de-risk these early-stage technologies. Funds will be used for a variety of opportunity development tasks such as market studies, consultants, customer discovery efforts, and detailed IP analysis and prototype development.

Successful projects will advance or “move the needle” toward a commercial opportunity through achievement of early commercial or business milestones such as proof-of-concept or market or business model validation. Achievement of these early milestones, which are difficult to attract funding for through alternate sources, will make them more attractive for licensing and enhance the selection process for projects eligible for translational programs like MTRAC or Coulter. The funds will also allow the TTOs to continue their customer discovery and market assessment of projects as a natural complement to the technical readiness work of MTRAC to maximize commercialization success and focus effort for effective startup formation processes and attraction of pre-seed funding, SBIR/STTR and other new venture funding. The ADVANCE Grant Program is targeted at high-value technology sectors represented by the research portfolios at the public universities across the State including but not limited to:

1. Innovations in Life Science and healthcare including diagnostics, therapeutics and medical devices;
2. Advanced Automotive Manufacturing;
3. Biotechnology and Agricultural Processing Technology;
4. Advanced Materials;
5. Alternative Energy; and
6. Homeland Security and Defense Technology.


The ADVANCE Grant program is run as a semi-rolling funding program. Proposals may be submitted at any time by the university Technology Transfer Office (TTO) or if there isn’t a TTO, by the university research office at universities throughout the State. On approximately a bi-monthly frequency, the proposals submitted will be reviewed by the Project Evaluation Committee.

  • Applicants must be from institutions of higher education in the State of Michigan.
  • The relevant technology must have an invention disclosure filed and have an identified commercial application.
  • Grant applications may be submitted at any time. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.
  • Typical applications for these funds will be prototyping, customer discovery, market application research, animal studies, detailed IP analysis, etc.
  • Project funding requests are encouraged up to $40,000 of which $20,000 is supplied by the Program and $20,000 matched by the university. Grant dollars supplied by the program must be matched dollar for dollar by the university.
  • Projects involving optioned or licensed technologies are ineligible for funding.

Funding will be provided through a subagreement from MSU (Non-MSU awards). The subagreement will be issued within ten days of the university receiving an ADVANCE Award letter. The subagreement must be signed within one month of receipt of the draft subagreement; otherwise, there is the potential for the award to be rescinded.

One no-cost extension for the maximum of three months per project will be considered for extenuating circumstances.


Project proposals will be judged and scored on the following criteria:

  1. Fitness against the objectives of the ADVANCE Grant Program;
  2. Technical and Commercial feasibility of the proposed scope of work; and
  3. Ability of the proposed scope of work to meaningfully advance or determine the feasibility of the university invention toward a commercial outcome as measured by a license or startup formation.


Applications have a rolling deadline. Please download documents listed below:

MSU Applicants

Step 1: Complete the ADVANCE Grant Program Proposal (Word)
Step 2: Complete the ADVANCE Grant Budget and Signature Form (MSU) (Excel) and ADVANCE Budget Justification (Word)
Step 3: Submit all ADVANCE proposal documents as one PDF to msugrant@msu.edu

Non-MSU Applicants

Step 1: Complete the ADVANCE Grant Program Proposal (Word)
Step 2: Complete the ADVANCE Grant Budget and Signature Form (non-MSU) (Excel) and ADVANCE Budget Justification (Word)
Step 3: Complete the MSU Office of Sponsored Program’s Simplified Commitment Form
Step 4: Review the MSU ADVANCE Grant Draft Subagreement
Step 5: Submit all ADVANCE proposal documents as one PDF to msugrant@msu.edu. Submit the Commitment Form as a separate PDF

CONTACT INFORMATION For more information, please email the ADVANCE Grant Program Manager Ann Spalding at msugrant@msu.edu.