The State Economic Engagement & Development (SEED) Research Program grants are administered by Discovery to Product (D2P). SEED grants allow UW–Madison faculty and academic staff with ownership in a Wisconsin company to apply for funding to engage in innovative research, generate additional private and public sector support for their research programs, and promote technology transfer between the University and industry.
Prior to writing a proposal, we highly recommend engaging with D2P. Our mentors have experience with commercialization and supporting research. These consultations can prove helpful in framing the proposal’s research plan as a necessary and impactful step toward successful technology commercialization that benefits the company and broader Wisconsin economy.
To qualify for funding, the following three criteria must be met:
- The research will take place on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus;
- The faculty or academic staff applicant has ownership in a Wisconsin company; and
- The proposed research is designed to facilitate the commercialization of the company’s technology.
FUNDING LEVEL AND PERIOD
We invite proposals for fiscal year 2022 (funding available from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022) that focus on research that is technically innovative, of interest to a broad economic sector, and has a high potential to benefit Wisconsin’s industrial and economic development in the near term. The $600,000 in currently available SEED funding will be used to fund approximately 6-12 proposals. SEED awards are funded on 101 accounts which means that any salary awarded will not have fringe benefits charged to this fund.
Deadline to apply: The deadline for proposals for fiscal year 2022 is Monday, February 15, 2021.
Important note: There may be changes to reporting requirements for fiscal year 2022. Please be sure to review possible changes under Reporting Requirements and Forms.
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FORMATTING AND GRANTSMANSHIP
Font size should be 11 points or larger. Smaller text in figures, graphs, diagrams, timelines and charts is acceptable, as long as it is legible when the page is viewed at 100%. Provide at least ½ inch margin on all sides. Other features including images should be in keeping with the purpose of ensuring ease of readability for the reviewers. Define or avoid technical jargon and spell out acronyms the first time used, followed by a notation of the abbreviation in parentheses.
The SEED grant is a commercialization research grant proposal. Therefore, the research proposed must directly serve to advance the commercialization efforts for the company and demonstrate economic impact for the State of Wisconsin. Successful proposals provide a roadmap for how the project deliverables will be commercialized under a sustainable business model.
The Project Proposal narrative should not exceed 6 pages. Information outside the page limit include the submission cover page, budget form, public-facing abstract, investigator/environment/company and letters of support.
The Project Proposal should include the following content (with approximate page lengths):
- Introduction, Significance and Innovation (suggested length ~1 page): The introduction should provide background and context for both the research proposal as well as the commercialization need, context and value proposition. The proposal should address significant topics where successful outcomes transform the company, launch an industry and/or positively impact the Wisconsin economy. The project and extended commercial application of the research should be original and challenge existing paradigms. The innovation may employ novel concepts, approaches, methodologies, services. tools, or technologies.
- Research Plan/Approach (suggested length ~2 pages): The research plan should be well organized, well defined, and utilize appropriate frameworks, design, methods, and analyses. The research plan should describe the proposed research, stating how the research will be conducted and how the results will support commercial benefit for the company. Project milestones should be identified.
- Commercialization Plan (suggested length ~3 pages): This section should illustrate how the proposed research milestones impact the commercialization plan. This section should succinctly describe the product/service resulting from research-supported innovation. The plan should identify commercialization topics such as target customers, value proposition, market opportunity, comparison to in-market technology, market delivery channels, revenue models, regulatory/reimbursement strategy (if appropriate), intellectual property strategy, and short/long term funding strategy. This section should include a roadmap or timeline to show how the research project fits into the larger commercialization plan. As a result, this section should align with company’s overarching business plan and goals and demonstrate impact for the Wisconsin economy (e.g. job creation, leveraged funding, transfer of IP, future collaborations with your spinoff, interactions with other Wisconsin companies).
PUBLIC FACING ABSTRACT
The public-facing abstract should be a clear and concise description of the project proposal using plain language understandable to a large audience. The abstract should be 200 words or less. If selected for funding, the abstract may be used in news releases, therefore do not include proprietary information.
Identify and describe the strengths of the PI and key research personnel, demonstrating how they are suited to carry out the work required. Describe the scientific environment for the research and justify appropriateness for the project, contributing to the probability of success. In addition, a high-level summary of the company, organization history, funding, etc. should be provided. This section should not exceed 2 pages.
LETTERS OF SUPPORT
A letter of support is required from the company’s leadership that describes the impact this research will have on the company’s commercialization plans and anticipated outcomes. We encourage applicants to provide up to two additional letters of support for their proposal demonstrating commercialization readiness and established relationships necessary to pursue the research and/or commercialization aims. Letters may include support from the commercial partners and target customer, for example.
COMPANY ACKNOWLEDGEMENT FORM
The application must include a Company Acknowledgement Form signed by the company. The form acknowledges the intellectual property rights and reporting requirements associated with the SEED Program.
REVIEW AND SELECTION CRITERIA
Proposals that meet the eligibility requirements will be reviewed by a committee comprised of individuals involved with commercialization of research and technology transfer. Reviewers will evaluate proposals for strengths in the following areas: 1) Proposal Innovation 2) Commercialization Plan and 3) Overall Impact.
1) Proposal Innovation
A problem/unmet need has been identified and a compelling solution is being proposed. The innovation promises to deliver significant value in use. There is a realistic project plan and has been developed to move the technology closer to commercialization.
2) Commercialization Plan
The project has clear identifiable and quantifiable benefits and has an opportunity for commercial success. The target market and customers have been identified. The project has distinct competitive advantage and the size of the market is compelling and growing.
3) Overall Impact
This project will advance the technology and make a strong impact in the market space and the Wisconsin economy.
Reviewers will score proposals with both numeric scores as well as written feedback. As these funds are state economic development funds, successful applications propose research that significantly “moves the needle” to accelerate product/service deployment into the Wisconsin economy.
Proposals are reviewed by a committee with combined business and academic research experience. Results of proposal reviews are typically available within 6-8 weeks of the application deadline. Reviewer feedback is shared anonymously with applicants.
Your submission must include the following:
- Cover Page* | Download template (Word)
- Budget Form* | Download template (Excel)
- Project Proposal (6-page limit)
- Public facing abstract
- Investigator, Environment, Company
- Letters of Support (company letter required; others optional)
- Company Acknowledgement Form* | Download Template (Word)
* Please use provided templates for the Cover Page, Budget Form and Company Acknowledgement Form.
PIs: Use WISPER to route your proposal.
- On the General tab:
- Select “OVCRGE” as the document type.
- Select “University of Wisconsin-Madison” as the sponsor.
- Ensure all clearance questions are answered and any required protocol information is provided.
- On the “Attachments” tab, upload a copy of the entire application as a PDF file.
- Electronically complete the PI signatures for both Award and Proposal.
- Route to your division as you do with other WISPER records.
School/College: Do NOT submit the WISPER record to the SPO. Sign the WISPER record and route directly to Jesse Lynch.
Questions? Please email D2P at firstname.lastname@example.org
Reporting Requirements and Forms for SEED Recipients
Final Report Due Dates
Final reports are due by the last day of the funding period. Failure to file the report in a timely manner may affect a recipient’s ability to receive future funding under this program.
Final report template (Word)
Note: D2P has applied for a grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) that, if received, would substantially increase the amount of SEED funding available for fiscal year 2022. The addition of WEDC funding would require some changes to reporting requirements for fiscal year 2022 SEED recipients. We anticipate learning if we’ve received the grant by the end of January 2021.
WEDC would require that reports contain specifics on the Wisconsin company in which the PI has ownership:
- # of Wisconsin-based employees
- Total dollar amount of salaries/wages paid
- Additional capital obtained (grant, debt, royalty-based, equity)
- Gross sales
In addition to including these specifics in the existing final report (above), PI’s would be required to submit short reports to D2P with these specifics on the Wisconsin company at the start date for the project, and then annually for the 3 years after the first full report (4 years total). D2P will collect the PI-submitted reports and submit a compiled report to WEDC. WEDC then reports program results to the state in aggregate. As with any publicly-funded program (including the current SEED grant), these reports could be subject to state public records requests. Our indication from WEDC is that they have only released aggregate and not company-specific information, but we can’t ensure that would be the case. If you have questions on the potential new reporting requirements, please contact D2P Director Andy Richards at email@example.com.