Program Funding Announcements

USC Stevens Center for Innovation
Technology Advancement Grants (TAG)

The 2021 Request for Proposals is now closed. A summary is below, but please read the full announcement for details.

Letter of Intent (LOI) Deadline: 5:00 pm, Friday, February 5, 2021
Invited Proposal Deadline: 5:00 pm, Monday, April 5, 2021


Technology Advancement Grants (TAGs) support 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 USC Stevens’ staff and faculty advisors and a final review and recommendation by an external advisory board of industry experts. The process is blinded until the final presentations which will be held by zoom.  It is anticipated that part of the award may be spent on outside organizations that will work with the principal investigator and USC Stevens 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:

  • Innovations created at USC in any discipline that demonstrate strong potential for commercialization and taken to the next level through additional investment on the scale 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, 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 existing 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 USC Stevens prior to the submission of the letter of intent.
  • The project submitted would benefit from using the types of permissible expenses as described in “Types of Assistance” below to move a project closer to commercialization.
  • Examples of innovations or technologies that can benefit from TAG funding include, but are not limited to, new therapeutics, diagnostics, medical devices, software (health and non-health) with commercial applications, new battery types, novel chip designs, new materials for aerospace and other projects with clear commercial applications.

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, user interface design, and/or hardening
  • Preclinical studies, such as toxicity
  • Other advanced pre-commercial research, including sub-contracts to contract research organizations.

To Apply:

Further Information and Program Contact:
Questions about the TAG award or the application submission process can be directed to: Jennifer Dyer, Executive Director,, (213) 821-5002.


Pfizer Center for Therapeutic Innovation (CTI) Call for Proposals
Pre-Proposal Submission Deadline: June 28, 2021

For more information, please email Jennifer Dyer of USC Stevens Center for Innovation or call (213) 821-5002.

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, and Internal Medicine and this year’s details are outlined in the 2021 Call for Proposals.

Interested researchers must contact Donaldson Santos with 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 CTI 2021 CFP Seeks Projects With Disease Area Focus In:

Inflammation & Immunology:

  • Cellular senescence and inflammation resolution mechanisms
  • Tolerance induction mechanisms in autoimmunity
  • Modulating the activity of pathogenic immune cells
  • Promotion of epithelial barrier

Internal Medicine


Rare Diseases, including:

  • Repeat Expansion Diseases
  • Rare Cardiac Diseases
  • Rare Renal Disorders

USC Stevens Center for Innovation
Startup Investment Program

Request for Proposals currently open. Applications accepted on a rolling basis. For full details about the program, please read: USC Stevens 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 USC Stevens prior to the date of the license agreement with the USC Startup). USC Stevens will invest in USC start-ups 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 start-up is 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 Start-ups 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,, (213) 821-5002.

USC Stevens Center for Innovation
Commercialization Awards

The awards, given annually by the USC Stevens Center for Innovation, recognize the commercialization success of technologies developed by inventors across USC who worked with the USC Stevens Center for Innovation to execute a license for their research or technologies during the previous Fiscal Year. The first awards were given for the 2016 Fiscal Year.

Read our article for more information.


USC Stevens Center for Innovation
Legal Office Hours

This program provides complimentary legal assistance, counseling and information materials to all USC innovators (faculty, staff, students and alumni) and start-up companies. Our services are on-campus and are provided by qualified outside corporate and intellectual property attorneys.

For more information, visit our Legal Office Hours page.