Penn State Commercialization GAP Fund

Sponsor Name: 
Penn State
Description of the Award: 

Important Dates:

  • RFP Issued: December 1, 2023
  • Due Date: February 21, 2024
  • Oral Presentation: March 2024
  • Award Notification: April 2024
  • Funding Start Date: May 2024

Program and Scope

The goal of Penn State’s Commercialization GAP Fund is to accelerate the development of promising research across the campuses by closing the funding gaps between proof-of-concept research and readiness for commercialization. This will be achieved by providing the investigator with the funding and other support needed to advance the project towards a stage sufficient to attract a commercial licensee or investor looking to build a company around the technology.


The PI must be a full-time faculty member of Penn State.


In order to be considered for Commercialization GAP Fund support, the proposed projects must meet the following criteria:

  1. address an unmet need with significant commercial potential,
  2. have progressed to the point of proof of principle, either on the bench or in the field,
  3. have the potential to be licensed to an established company, or become a professionally funded and managed start-up within 1-3 years,
  4. have well defined and well justified GO/NO-GO endpoints,
  5. have completed the invention disclosure process with Office of Technology Management (OTM),
  6. be led by a PI or key team member who has applied for or completed the I-Corps™ program, or who has substantial previous experience with industry, licensing or spin-outs. Please email to learn more about joining a Spring 2024 I-Corps short course.
  7. have the IP rights assigned to Penn State or belonging to Penn State/PSRF.

Budget Guidelines

  1. Up to $75,000/year in direct costs can be requested. If resources requested from the GAP fund are insufficient to lead to licensing or start-up, details must be given on additional sources of gap funding.
  2. We are expecting to release funds in tranches upon successful completion of certain aims of the project.
  3. Funds cannot be used for travel purposes.
  4. Matching funds from other internal or external sources would be encouraged. Technologies funded by college level translational research funds would be viewed favorably but not guaranteed for the GAP Fund support.

Project Period

Approved projects will be funded for up to one year. After the initial funding, select projects may be invited to apply for further GAP funding.

Project Review:

Projects will be reviewed by internal and external commercialization subject matter experts. Preferences will be given to the projects where commercial interests have been ascertained and actionable recommendations are obtained from potential licensee(s) to advance the IP to a point (in 1-3 years) to attract a commercial licensee or investor looking to build a company around the technology.

Projects will be reviewed for scientific strength, but the primary focus will be on commercial potential and readiness.

Application Instructions:

Please upload the following documents in a single PDF through this application portal:

  • Cover Page
    • Principal Investigator’s (PI's) campus/college/departments
    • Co-PI's names and campus/college/departments
    • A list of participating organizations (if applicable)
    • Proposal Title
    • Funds Requested
    • Executive Summary (500-word limit)
  • Proposal (maximum of 15 pages, including references, Impact Chart, and Milestone Gantt Chart )
    • proposal elements described below

Proposals must address the following core components of a proposed project:

I. Unmet Need

  • What is the gap or problem where there is no satisfactory solution?
  • Who, and how many, are impacted each year globally and in the USA?

II. Currently Available Solutions

  • What is the current gold standard?
  • What are 2-3 other solutions available today or in development that are intended to impact the same unmet need? What stage of development are they at?

III. Proposed New Solution

  • What is the end product or service? How does it address the unmet need?
  • Is it a new product or an improvement of existing products?
  • Who is the end user/purchaser of your product?
  • How will your solution be better than the current gold standard? How is it novel?
  • Who will buy this product and who will pay for it? Explain why they will pay for it?
  • How do you envision pricing this product vs. existing or competitive products? Why?

IV. Preliminary Results

  • Include results from preliminary testing and data that demonstrates the feasibility of your solution.
  • Describe the current stage of the technology/product and include critical technical hurdles (e.g., product development and/or manufacturing) that have not been solved.

V. Research Plan and Quarterly Milestones

  • Describe specific research aims.
  • Fill out the below milestone table to describe quarterly milestones for the activities that need to be undertaken during the initial one year of funding.
  • How will the results of the GAP funding help you convince subsequent investors or licensees to further invest in your idea (i.e., explain how these specific aims and milestones will get you closer to finding a commercial partner)
  • Briefly list the technical and business milestones for the 2 years following the end of the GAP Fund support.

VI. Commercialization Plan and Intellectual Property

  • Intellectual Property: Does the original IP belong to PSU or PSRF? Detail your Technology Licensing Officer and case number. Is the IP patentable or otherwise protectable?
  • Market Size: What is the US market size today for existing products servicing the target market? What is the projected US market size at full penetration for the proposed product?
  • Regulatory Barriers to Entry: List significant regulatory (e.g., FDA, EPA, USDA, etc.) barriers that must be cleared to enter the target market, if any.
  • List companies, investors or organizations that currently have or are likely to have interest in your technology.
  • List company names and divisions and why they would be interested (e.g., they sell similar products, sell to similar markets/customers, or this item will fill a gap in their product portfolio).
  • List information you have obtained from potential licensees or investors related to this particular project. Have they commented on the value proposition? Any quotes or letters of support would greatly strengthen the application.
  • Competition and Commercial Partners: List names of start-up companies and established companies that are currently developing or selling products targeted at solving the same problem. If they are using a different technology but are solving the same problem, you should still list them. Remember that competitors could be potential future commercial partners for your technology.

VII. Follow-on funding plan

  • The commercialization GAP Fund provides a bridge to other types of commercial and federal funding to de-risk your product closer to the market. It is not enough by itself to get your product all the way to the market. It is very important that you have a plan for obtaining follow-on funding to continue the project after the commercialization GAP fund award expires. List potential sources of funding in bullets and the associated deadlines.

Applicants are encouraged to use a project impact chart (an example is provided below) and a milestone Gantt chart to provide information supporting the proposal.









Sponsor Final Deadline: 
Feb 16, 2024
To be considered as a Penn State institutional nominee, please submit a notice of intent by the date provided directly below.
OSVPR Downselect Deadline: 
Wednesday, February 21, 2024 - 11:59pm
For help or questions: 

The Penn State Commercialization GAP Fund Contacts:
We are here to help. Contact us via email or telephone if you have any questions.
Tel: 814-865-6277