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ADVANCE Grant Proof-of-Concept Fund Launches at MSU

The MSU Innovation Center is proud to manage and administer the ADVANCE Grant Program sponsored by Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) on behalf of all public universities throughout the State of Michigan. This university early stage proof-of-concept fund is designed to closely align with other programs (e.g. MTRAC, T3N, First Capital Fund), as well as angel and venture capital within the State to provide a pipeline of de-risked technologies and fundable startup opportunities for further advancement.

The ADVANCE Grant program, like MTRAC, provides a strong incentive for faculty with early stage technologies at the Michigan public universities to engage with their university’s TTO and commercialization activities. Technologies, TTOs and inventors that receive funding under the ADVANCE Grant Program will benefit through achievement of critical early stage milestones such as proof-of-concept or market opportunity validation which will lead to follow-on commercialization activities. 


Data have shown that successful university TTOs must now actively advance portfolio technologies instead of merely screening, protecting, and marketing technologies. There is currently a gap in the capital continuum in the State that the ADVANCE Grant Program will fill.  These funds will be used at an early stage (TRL 1-4) to determine the most actionable market application, the most viable business model, and confirm the proof-of-concept for a targeted application with our customer discovery process. These funds will be matched and complimented 1:1 by university “gap” funds to further de-risk these early stage technologies. Funds will be used for a variety of opportunity development tasks such as market studies, consultants, customer discovery efforts, and detailed IP analysis and prototype development.

Successful projects will advance or “move the needle” toward a commercial opportunity through achievement of early commercial or business milestones such as proof-of-concept or market or business model validation.  Achievement of these early milestones, which are difficult to attract funding for through alternate sources, will make them more attractive for licensing and enhance the selection process for projects eligible for translational programs like MTRAC or Coulter. 

The ADVANCE Grant Program is targeted at high-value technology sectors represented by the research portfolios at the public universities across the State including but not limited to:

  1. Innovations in Life Science and healthcare including diagnostics, therapeutics, and medical devices;
  2. Advanced Automotive Manufacturing;
  3. Biotechnology and Agricultural Processing Technology;
  4. Advanced Materials;
  5. Alternative Energy;
  6. Homeland Security and Defense Technology

To learn more and apply, visit the ADVANCE Grant Program page