Proof of Concept Program

 The call for applications is opening soon! 

 

Proof of Concept Program Overview

The POC program is a competitive funding program for OIST researchers designed to help bridge the gap between lab discoveries and commercialization.

OIST is a world-class basic science research institute, first and foremost, and the POC program is tailor-made to accommodate this unique environment at OIST. Specifically, the program aims to foster innovation and enhance technology transfer to transform OIST inventions and scientific outcomes into new products and services that benefit society. We welcome applications from any researcher with a technology, or an idea for a technology, as long as they are committed to creating impact in Okinawa or globally.

So far, we have funded over 70 projects. The projects are as diverse as OIST, ranging from early-stage applied research, through early prototypes, to pre-commercialization projects aimed at spinning out into startup companies or licensing out to industry.

What support do we provide?

  • Time-limited funding to carry out your project

POC program provides funds that can be used for direct project-related expenses, including hiring staff, small equipment purchases, research supplies, travel that directly supports the project, and contract research services.

  • Hands-on guidance

POC program staff will assist participants in planning, operations, and troubleshooting during the project period. Furthermore, participants will have the support of other OIST Innovation members on issues related to intellectual property, industry collaborations, customer discovery, collaboration agreements, venture capital activity, etc.

  • Intellectual property management

A team of experts at OIST Innovation will work with you to identify new intellectual property, protect your inventions and promote them to industry partners. 

  • Opportunities for professional development

Researchers participating in POC projects will have access to entrepreneurship education resources at OIST to lay the path towards social impact. Learn about the innovation process by acquiring knowledge and skills that will be useful throughout their careers.

  • Mentoring by external innovation experts from around the world

The project team will have access to external innovation experts with knowledge and experience in the early stage of technology commercialization to provide technical guidance and overall mentorship.

  • Community building

OIST Innovation Society regularly organizes events and activities that bring members of the community together. This includes seminars, pitch competitions, networking, and social events.

POC Program Outline

The program is structured into (1) an internal grant with three funding phases depending on the status of technology development and intellectual property protection and (2) a fellowship for entrepreneurial-minded researchers. 

 

 

Funding Phases - Seed Phase, Phase I, and Phase II

  • Seed Phase - Technology Innovation: supports applied research projects with the potential to develop new intellectual property. In this phase, analytical and experimental studies are conducted to see if a technology is viable and establish the basis for further development. Projects are funded for up to 12 months.

  • Phase I - Technology Validation: supports projects that aim to establish the feasibility of a technology in a commercial context. In this phase, the technology is already protected, and researchers validate it or develop an initial prototype.  Projects are funded for up to 12 months.

  • Phase II - Technology Demonstration: supports projects aiming to develop technologies already validated in the lab. In this phase, researchers explore potential markets and develop technologies for specific commercial applications. The end goal is a technology that would be attractive for licensing out, forming the basis of a startup, or ready to receive private funding for further development. Projects can be funded for up to 24 months.

Eligibility: We accept applications from a researcher or technician who has the support of a Unit Faculty Member, a full-time Faculty Member at OIST, an Adjunct Faculty Member who maintains an active research unit at OIST, or a member of the Science and Technology Group (STG) at OIST, with prior approval from the Dean of faculty affairs.

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Technology Pioneer Fellowship 

  • Technology Pioneer Fellowship (TPF): is a specific fellowship addressed to entrepreneurial-minded researchers and designed to advance the development of OIST technologies towards products or services. Researchers who want to apply for TPF must have at least the basic principles for their technology already established. By the end of the project funding, the fellow is expected to have developed a minimum viable product. Technology Pioneers are supported for up to 24 months.

Eligibility: Applications are open to individual OIST postdoctoral scholars, staff scientists, PhD graduates, and technicians, or teams of two. Applicants must have the support of a Faculty Member who is willing to provide at least desk space, laboratory space, and access to relevant equipment for the duration of the project.

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Feedback from OIST Researchers

"OIST has an amazing team of experts dealing with technology transfer."
"The Proof of Concept program is attractive because, within this program, researchers who are interested in technology development can carry out research that is closely related to real-world applications."
"During the process, in addition to direct POC support, Business Development and Technology Licensing sections have provided an incredible amount of support – facilitating negotiations, partnership discussions, IP advice and project management."
"The opportunities for professional development have been extremely valuable. I have also benefitted greatly from hands-on project management support that has focused my work."

Contact details and further information

Please contact POC Program staff at rdcluster@oist.jp