The Stevens Center funds several grant and investment programs that are only available to USC researchers. In addition, we coordinate applications for a limited number of external research funding opportunities.

Please consult the lists below for information about these internal and external funding opportunities.

Internal Funding Opportunities Offered by the Stevens Center

This annual grant program provides funding of up to $50,000 per project. Please note that the FY2021 Request for Proposals is closed, but you can view the RFP. The next funding round will be announced in December 2021.


Technology Advancement Grants support early stage technologies invented at USC through validation or proof-of-concept development. The awards add value to unlicensed USC-owned technology, aiming to increase the probability of obtaining a license in the future. These awards are not intended to fund basic research or app development.

TAGs have a competitive two-step application process comprising an initial review by Stevens Center staff and advisors, followed by a final review and recommendation by an external advisory board of industry experts. It is anticipated that part of the award may be spent on outside organizations that will work with the principal investigator and the Stevens Center to further develop the technology. The external advisory board may recommend that changes be made to the Project Plan in order for the project to be eligible for funding.

Areas of Interest:

  • Technologies invented at USC in any discipline that demonstrate strong potential for commercialization through additional technology advancement investment of $50,000 or less.
  • TAG prioritizes projects that are not eligible for other USC technology advancement programs, such as the Alfred Mann Institute at USC, Coulter Program, or Ming Hsieh Institute for Research on Engineering-Medicine and Cancer.


Eligibility is limited to projects that satisfy these criteria:

  • The application must be based on Intellectual Property (IP) developed at USC with the rights assigned to USC.
  • The IP cannot be licensed, optioned, or subject to any third party rights at the time of application (other than government interests via sponsored research).
  • The principal investigator must be a USC employee eligible to serve as principal investigator, other than a term employee or visiting employee.
  • A complete invention disclosure must be on file with the USC Stevens Center for Innovation prior to the submission of the letter of intent.

Types of Assistance:

TAG Awards provide up to $50,000 for a project duration of no more than one year. Permissible expenses include:

  • Prototype development
  • Biological target validation and screening
  • Software optimization
  • Preclinical studies, such as toxicity
  • Other advanced pre-commercial research, including sub-contracts to contract research organizations.

Further Information and Program Contact:

Questions about the TAG award or the application submission process can be directed to Jennifer Dyer, Executive Director,, (213) 821-6062.

This program accepts applications on a rolling basis. For full details about the program, please read the Stevens Center Startup Investment Program RFP Announcement.


The USC Stevens Center for Innovation aims to maximize the translation of USC research into products for public benefit. One aspect of this mission is to support the translation of research through USC startups.

The Startup Investment Program supports this effort by reducing the hurdle for raising startup funds to pay past patent costs (patent costs incurred by the Stevens Center prior to the date of the license agreement with the USC startup).

The Stevens Center will invest in USC startups that demonstrate strong potential for success, as assessed by expert advisors, in exchange for equity interests granted to the university. In addition, the assessment will be used to help determine the best pathway for commercialization, and to advise the faculty inventor on business strategy.


  • USC will continue to accept an equity interest in startup companies in lieu of an upfront licensing fee whether the startup is a USC startup or not, when requested by the startup.
  • Companies that qualify as USC startups will have the option of applying for additional investment in the following manner:
    • Upon approval, USC will invest a portion of its patent budget in USC startups that demonstrate promise to succeed as a business.
    • In exchange, USC will receive an additional minority equity stake in the USC startup, providing potential for future income to expand technology transfer in lieu of patent cost reimbursement income that USC would normally receive from a licensee.
    • A decision to invest will be based on a careful assessment of the business plan for the startup, including analysis from outside advisors who understand the industry.
  • The USC investment will be complemented by guiding faculty to seek investments from other sources (such as Small Business Innovation Research program, angel investors, venture capital, and other sources) to complement USC’s investment.

Further Information and Program Contact:

Questions about the program or the application submission process can be directed to Jennifer Dyer, Executive Director, or (213) 821-6062.

Please visit the USC Research Awards page on the Office of Research website to see more internal funding opportunities.

External Funding Opportunities Managed by the Stevens Center

Pfizer Centers for Therapeutic Innovation (CTI) requests pre-proposals for biotherapeutic targets. The current submission deadline is June 28, 2021.

For more information, please email Jennifer Dyer or Donaldson Santos of the USC Stevens Center for Innovation, or call (213) 821-5002. Interested researchers must contact Jennifer or Donaldson with their availability for a brief phone call with the Pfizer CTI Director to discuss proposed concepts prior to submissions. No proposal shall be submitted without prior discussion with the researcher, USC Stevens Center for Innovation, and Pfizer CTI.


Pfizer’s Center for Therapeutic Innovation collaborations focus around joint drug discovery where the investigator brings the target, validation and knowhow, and together with Pfizer a joint drug discovery research plan is developed. Pfizer’s areas of interest are aligned with their current core research areas of:

  • Oncology
  • Inflammation & Immunology
  • Rare Diseases
  • Internal Medicine

Details are outlined in the Call for Proposals (PDF).

Please visit the Pfizer CTI website for additional information about the program.

The Stevens Center also distributes calls for proposals from corporations such as Sony, Samsung, and others. These funding opportunities are announced by email and posted on the Stevens Center website and social media accounts.