CATalyst Proof of Concept (POC) Fund Program

The CATalyst Proof of Concept (POC) Fund Program is being launched by the University of Kentucky (UK) Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) to de-risk and better prepare UK technologies with commercial potential for market fit and application. Through the CATalyst POC program, the OTC aims to accelerate the commercialization of technologies being developed at UK by helping to bridge the funding gap that often exists between idea/discovery and commercialization, the so-called “Valley of Death”.

Through this OTC program, funds will be available to support proof of concept for innovations emanating from UK faculty and staff. Selected proposals will receive initial funding of between $5,000 and $50,000 (funding awards may be tranched in multiple parts, in which subsequent parts will be released after successfully meeting one of the established project milestones). The final award amount will be determined by the scope of work and based upon the successful completion of milestones developed according to input from OTC, UK Intellectual Property Committee (IPC), and any external reviewers.

The intended outcome of a POC award is to demonstrate commercial viability and position the technology for industry or investor engagement. 

For more information on the program or a pre-application form, contact

Pre-Proposal Application Information

CATalyst POC Fund Eligibility Requirements

Only applicants who meet and agree to the following criteria will be considered eligible to submit a Pre-Proposal Application for the CATalyst Proof of Concept (POC) program.

(1) The UK Innovator must successfully complete the UKAccel program to be eligible to apply to the CATalyst POC fund.

(2) The Principal Investigator (PI) must be a full-time UK faculty member or emeritus faculty with active University research labs, or University of Kentucky (UK) staff with adequate ability to perform continuous research and complete designated milestones.

(3) The PI must have an invention disclosure on file with the UK Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC), upon which the proposed project will be based, prior to applying.  Applications will not be accepted if a disclosure is not on file with the OTC prior to the application deadline designated for this current review cycle (see webpage).

(4) The technology, which provides the basis for the project proposal must not yet be licensed or optioned to a third-party.

(5) The intellectual property (IP) surrounding the invention disclosure must be owned by the UK. Please contact OTC if you are unsure of the intellectual property ownership of your invention. If IP is jointly owned with another institution, an inter-institutional agreement (IIA) must be in place with UK designated as the commercialization lead.

(6) The proposed project must be focused on commercial product development, testing or other de-risking. CATalyst POC funding cannot be used for basic exploratory studies or as general funding for the Principal Investigator’s lab. Projects must focus on a current invention disclosure on file with the OTC and should address how achieving identified project milestones will move that invention towards commercialization.

(7) Only one CATalyst POC project may be submitted per PI as a lead. Investigators with multiple technology disclosures should focus their proposal on the most commercially promising technology within their portfolio.

(8) All project milestones for Phase I should be achievable within 12 months of the start of funding and within the requested budget.

(9) If you are a previous CATalyst POC awardee and your project is still in progress and/or still receiving POC Awards Program funding, you are ineligible to apply.

(10) You must adhere to the template and character limitations in the pre-proposal. Any characters over the maximum allowed will be deleted and not evaluated.

(11) By submitting this application you acknowledge that this project is eligible for submission based on the criteria set forth in this application. You further understand that if invited to submit a Full Proposal Pitch Presentation, there is no guarantee that the Full Proposal will be funded.

The Full Proposal Presentation will be reviewed and evaluated by an external (to OTC) review committee which shall consist of members of the UK Intellectual Property Committee (IPC), and only those projects which are selected by the OTC will be funded at the levels recommended by the Committee and approved by the Vice President for Research (VPR) or its designee.

CATalyst POC Fund Expectations

If you are asked to submit a Full Proposal you must be able to:

(1) Work closely with your commercialization manager and University of Kentucky (UK) Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) staff to develop a full proposal in presentation format (PowerPoint).

(2) Be available for at least two in-person meetings with the OTC team to discuss your project and conduct mock presentations.

(3) Present your proposal to the Intellectual Property Committee (IPC) on the date and time selected for you.

(4) Work with the program team to negotiate the appropriate milestone and budget to complete the work.

(5) Recognize that funding amounts will be determined by the review committee to align with the work necessary to achieve proof of concept.

(6) Return any funds remaining in your account upon completion of your final milestone to the OTC-designated account.

(7) Upon selection for funding, work with OTC to participate in commercialization-related activities and provide regular updates to the program team.