Ohio Renews TeCK Fund
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.
Last week, the Ohio Third Frontier Commission approved Round 2 of the TeCK Fund, a $600,000 hybrid commercialization and faculty startup accelerator program which assists university faculty and startup companies to bring innovative new products to the market.
The grant awards $300,000 in Third Frontier funds, 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, KSU Director of Technology Commercialization. “We also are anxious to encourage our faculty members to work closely with JumpStart and BioEnterprise, Northeast Ohio based entrepreneurial support programs.”
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,” notes Jack Kraszewski, director of the Technology Transfer Office 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:
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 which will take pre-proposal applications from inventors at both universities. Roberts and Karen MacDonald, KSU Business and Entrepreneurship Outreach Librarian, will serve on that committee for Kent State.
If a faculty member’s pre-proposal 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, Matrix Equities, LLC, and Karen Spilizewski, Vice President for Medical Devices, BioEnterprise. Continuing on the selection committee are five independent members, including a senior partner at JumpStart, Inc., venture and early stage funders, and Dr. Asad Khan, CEO of Kent Displays, Inc., as well as Roberts and CSU Technology Transfer Director Jack Kraszewski.
Roberts said the screening committee will begin accepting pre-proposal applications in mid-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 Liquid Crystal Institute team which recently won first prize at the 2019 LaunchTown Experience™ competition.”
The pre-proposal application form will be available on the Kent State Technology Commercialization webpage. In the meantime, interested faculty members should contact Stephen Roberts at srober55 [at] kent.edu
Dan Pompili: 330-672-0731, dpompili [at] kent.edu
Emily Vincent: 330-672-8595, evincen2 [at] kent.edu