State Approves Round 2 of Kent State-Cleveland State Innovation Partnership

State of Ohio officials have renewed a $600,000 technology commercialization partnership between Kent State University and Cleveland State University.

The Ohio Third Frontier Commission recently approved Round 2 of the TeCK Fund, a $600,000 hybrid commercialization and faculty startup accelerator program that assists university faculty and startup companies to bring innovative new products to the market.

The grant awards $300,000 in Third Frontier funds, and Kent State and Cleveland State will contribute $150,000 each. The award also approves the addition of two new members to the TeCK Fund selection committee, which is responsible for awarding funds to innovators.

“We are pleased that the Third Frontier Fund acknowledged our unique partnership with Cleveland State, and we look forward to working closely with Kent State inventors who are interested in moving our technology out of the lab and into the market,” said Stephen Roberts, Kent State’s director of technology commercialization. “We also are anxious to encourage our faculty members to work closely with JumpStart Inc. and BioEnterprise, Northeast Ohio-based entrepreneurial support programs.”

Mr. Roberts said the two universities hope to fund more projects this time by lowering the minimum award amount to stretch available funds further. Awards will range in size from $25,000 to $100,000 and are intended to build working prototypes of university inventions, test those prototypes in real world situations and determine the most efficient pathways to commercial markets. 

“CSU and Kent State have unique research portfolios that provide significant opportunities for commercialization in a host of fields, from drug development to assistive devices to liquid crystals,” noted Jack Kraszewski, director of technology transfer at CSU. “This additional award for the TeCK Fund will accelerate the process for licensing new innovations while spurring the development of technology transfer opportunities with numerous companies across the state.”

Since its inception in April 2017, the TeCK Fund has supported seven projects at the two institutions, with awards totaling $700,000. Kent State will be the lead institution for this grant, which runs through May 2020. 

Kent State-funded projects from Round 1 are:

  • Torel LLC – liquid crystal sensors to detect toxic gases and vapors.
  • SMART Bike – exercise bicycle to help ameliorate Parkinson’s disease symptoms.
  • Solid Oxide Fuel Cell – small, cost-effective power generation units.

TeCK Fund proposals will continue to be vetted by two committees. The first is a four-person screening committee that will take preproposal applications from inventors at both universities. Mr. Roberts and Karen MacDonald, Kent State’s business and entrepreneurship outreach librarian, will serve on that committee for Kent State.

If a faculty member’s preproposal application is approved, they will be invited to present a formal proposal for funding to a seven-member selection committee. New members of that committee are Michal Soclof, principal of Matrix Equities LLC, and Karen Spilizewski, vice president for medical devices at BioEnterprise. Continuing on the selection committee are five independent members, consisting of a senior partner at JumpStart Inc., venture and early stage funders, and Asad Khan, Ph.D., CEO of Kent Displays Inc., as well as Kent State’s Mr. Roberts and CSU’s Mr. Kraszewski.

Mr. Roberts said the screening committee will begin accepting preproposal applications in May. He cautioned that faculty should plan ahead and be well prepared.

“We are strongly encouraging applicants to participate in the I-Corps @ Akron summer or fall cohorts and to talk with potential customers before submitting a full proposal,” he said. “We want to make sure that there really are actual users for the technology who will pay real money to purchase products or services incorporating Kent State technology. We are also encouraging collaborative projects, such as the joint College of Podiatric Medicine-Advanced Materials and Liquid Crystal Institute team that recently won first prize at the 2019 LaunchTown Experience™ competition.” 

The preproposal application form will be available on the Kent State Technology Commercialization webpage. Interested faculty members should contact Mr. Roberts at srober55@kent.edu.

For more information about research at Kent State, visit www.kent.edu/research

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Media Contacts:
Dan Pompili, dpompili@kent.edu, 330-672-0731 
Emily Vincent, evincen2@kent.edu, 330-672-8595