The University of Southern California is committed to scholarship with consequence, to research that results in insights and inventions with the potential to transform existing industries, create new industries, and improve lives. The USC Stevens Center for Innovation has developed the Ideas Empowered Program to accelerate the commercialization of these groundbreaking insights and inventions.
The Ideas Empowered Program bridges the gap between basic research and the marketplace by supporting both the idea and the innovator through mentoring and coaching, connections to resources, and proof-of-concept funding of typically $50K-$150K for validation of technical feasibility through proof-of-concept experiments and prototype development.
GOALS OF THE PROGRAM
The Ideas Empowered Program reduces the development and investment risks around these promising discoveries, and brings together the elements necessary to translate the discoveries into products or services that can attract outside funding within a year of completing the program. Through the program, teams will determine the viability of the proposed product or service, develop a go to market strategy, and demonstrate the feasibility of the technology.
Successful projects could spin out by attracting equity capital to establish a high-growth start-up company, licensing to a corporation that invests resources to turn the intellectual property into a new product or service, or scaling a new model for organizational change.
The Ideas Empowered Program is open to teams lead by a full-time tenure-track or non-tenure track faculty and should contain a research assistant, post-doc, graduate student or student who is committed to translating the technology to the marketplace in a one to two year time frame.
CRITERIA FOR SELECTION
Project proposals will be evaluated on the following basis:
a) Team quality and commitment,
b) Value proposition of the proposed product or service,
c) Novelty and feasibility of the idea,
d) Roadmap to determine commercial viability and obtain third party funding, and
e) Commitment to participate in pre- and post- award workshops.
OVERVIEW OF PROCESS
Innovators that desire to participate in the Ideas Empowered Program must submit a pre-proposal by June 27 and, if accepted for consideration, take part in a mentoring and marketing analysis process during the fall before any granting of funding is considered. This process allows the innovators to evaluate the commercialization potential of their technology and to develop a compelling milestone-based final proposal and a project feasibility presentation that they will deliver to a granting committee on December. Proof-of-concept funds will be distributed on January 2013.
Pre-proposals will be evaluated by a multidisciplinary committee comprised of USC representatives, entrepreneurs, industry, and investors. Proposals should address team, value proposition and potential markets, and use of proceeds. The USC Stevens Center will help pair selected proposals to mentors and MBA student to assist in the customer discovery, market analysis, and roadmap development.
Innovators are expected to participate in four Ideas Empowered Program workshops and a presentation to the award committee. Workshop dates are September 11 (12:00pm to 3:00pm) and September 25 (12:00pm to 3:00pm).
October 11 (12:00pm to 3:00pm) and week of October 22 (Time TBD). Presentations to the award committee will take place on December 11.
There are two Ideas Empowered Tracks:
- Life Sciences
- Physical Sciences, High Technology and Digital Media
Projects applying to the Physical Science, High Technology and Digital Media track do not require matching funds and are not eligible to apply for renewal of funding in future cycles of the program.
Life Science projects have the option (not required) to contribute 50% of the overall project funds when applying to the program. The matching funds should be non-governmental funds such as departmental funds, start-up funds, or gifts. Projects that choose to provide matching funds are the only projects eligible to apply for renewal of funding in future Ideas Empowered program cycles. Ideas Empowered matching funds may be provided through the Johnson & Johnson USC Translational Innovation Partnership Program, a collaboration between USC and the Johnson & Johnson’s Corporate Office of Science and Technology (JNJ COSAT).
For more information, please email: IdeasEmpoweredProgram@stevens.usc.edu
Juan Felipe Vallejo