The RMIT Seed Fund

Overview

The RMIT Seed Fund has been developed to support innovative ideas, based on research, to grow and achieve real world impact.

The Seed Fund supports a wide range of project types that too often fall through a funding gap between research and external investment. Supporting these projects will help researchers build stronger relationships with external partners, become more competitive for large grants or increase their attractiveness to investors.

Successful applicants will receive up to $25,000 funding and end-to-end case management support for their projects. Participation will also provide training and development in building value propositions, pitching skills, business development, research engagement, research translation, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Project Types

The Seed Fund can support a broad range of project types provided the project proposal is innovative, based on research and with potential to grow for real world impact.

Typical Seed Fund projects include:

  • Industry engagement pilot projects to demonstrate value to potential industry partners and enable larger scale industry partnerships.
  • Prototype and ‘minimum viable product’ development to enable IP commercialisation and entrepreneurial pathways.
  • End user / market research analysis for developing research translation strategies.
  • Supporting the communication of research beyond academia to influence private and public policy and community practices.
  • Supporting ‘indigenous knowledge innovation’ to bring traditional knowledge holders and modern research expertise together.
  • Supporting creative arts projects with potential to grow and affect change.

The Seed Fund is not designed to support research projects and outputs.

Eligibility

All RMIT researchers, including graduate researchers and academic staff, are eligible to participate in projects and training opportunities. Staff must remain affiliated with RMIT for the duration of the Seed Fund project and graduate researchers must ensure any proposed project is consistent with their candidature milestones.

A Project Leader will have overall responsibility for delivering the project. This person must be a member of staff and must be able to demonstrate that they have sufficient time capacity to make a sustained commitment to the project. The Project Leader may only apply for one Seed Fund project per round but may be a team member on other projects.

The Project Leader or team members must be willing to attend showcase events and to provide mentoring to others recipients so that the knowledge they gain from participating can be shared across the RMIT community.

Funding Arrangements

Support:

Up to $25,000 per project.

Each project will be assigned a case manager to assist the timely delivery of milestones and to provide and facilitate skills training.

Project duration:

Three to six months.

Funding agreement:

A Funding Memo will be struck between Research and Innovation and the Project Leader. The memo will be based upon agreed project milestones. The project will commence once the Funding Memo has been signed by the Project Leader and their Head of School.

Payment:

Half the funding amount will be transferred to a nominated IO at the start of the project. The remainder of the payment will be transferred upon delivery of the agreed milestones. If the milestones are not met the final payment may not be made.

If the milestones are not delivered due to a deviation from the agreed milestones or a lack of effort the final payment will not be made. If the project has faced a genuine technical failure, attempts have been made to overcome the problem and there has been sufficient communication with the case manager throughout the project then payment will proceed.

Use of funds:

The Seed Fund is not prescriptive as to how funds are used provided all spending is within the guidelines of the School Finance Office and that they contribute to the completion of milestones.

Accountability:

Projects must be led by a nominated Project Leader who will be accountable for the delivery of project milestones. The Project Leader will be supported by an assigned Case Manager.

Application Process and Assessment

Application for the Seed Fund is a two part process:

From the online application a shortlist of applicants will be selected by a team from the Research and Innovation Portfolio, the RMIT Activator and the Colleges. Selection will be based on the strength of the long term value proposition and the feasibility of the project proposal.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to pitch to a panel who will make the final funding decision. The panel will be comprised of experts from the Research and Innovation Portfolio, the RMIT Activator and the Colleges. All shortlisted applicants will be offered extensive pitch coaching prior to the pitch.

The pitch will be closed session and will be a seven minute presentation followed by 15 - 20 minutes of questions from the panel.

Key Dates and Events

Applications for the Seed Fund are now open. The key dates for Round 1 are as follows:

Online Applications close

May 4

Shortlist notification

May 11

Pitch

June 1

Project start

June 8

Information sessions and development workshops will be held throughout the year. Information for these will be available through staff and HDR bulletins.

One-on-one coaching sessions will also be available on a case-by-case basis to help researchers refine their project proposals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I apply for multiple projects in the one round?

You cannot be a Project Leader for two different projects in the same round. However, there is no limit on the number of Seed Fund projects you may participate in as a team member in the same round.

Can I apply for further rounds of Seed Funding if I have already been successful once?

It is hoped that after completion of a Seed Fund project you will be able to attract external support and funding to continue your journey. Nonetheless, you are welcome to resubmit for subsequent Seed Fund rounds if you can demonstrate that you have progressed to a new stage of development and can articulate how the new project will meet the criteria for Seed Funding.

Can I reapply if I have been unsuccessful in obtaining Seed Funding?

Yes. Applicants are encouraged to continually iterate and refine their project proposals. It is hoped that the process of applying and attending workshops will help with this and lead to success in future attempts.

Do I have to attend the workshops?

No. The workshops are not compulsory but will provide training and information that will be beneficial to your application and Seed Fund project. The workshops are open to all who register including those who are not ready to apply but would like to learn more about the process.

My research is very niche. How do I know it will be evaluated properly?

Through the application process the Seed Fund team will recruit expertise where necessary to help evaluate niche projects and to offer training and advice to Seed Fund participants. If you are unsure if your research is suitable, you are encouraged to attend the workshops or contact the Seed Fund team to discuss your research and potential projects.

How do I deliver my project if I receive half the funds after completion?

Once the Funding Memo has been signed and an IO has been nominated you can go into deficit up to the allocated funding amount. Once the project is complete, funds will be transferred and the deficit will be balanced.

What happens if I do not achieve the agreed milestones?

If the project has deviated from the agreed milestones or insufficient effort has been made then the funds will not be transferred. If the project has faced a genuine technical failure, attempts have been made to overcome the problem and there has been sufficient communication with the case manager throughout the project then the funds will be transferred.

I have ideas for ventures not directly related to my research. Can I apply for Seed Funding?

The Seed Fund is for RMIT research only. Individuals with innovative ideas not based on research are encouraged to contact the RMIT Activator.

Resources

The Lean Research Canvas (LRC) has been developed to help researchers refine a ‘value proposition’ from their research, clarify their project proposal and to communicate a project proposal to stakeholders. We encourage all Seed Fund applicants to fill out a LRC before engaging with the Seed Fund team and before submitting an application.

For more information on the LRC please download the LRC Guide.

LRC

LRC Guide

IP Self Help Checklist

Contact

For more information please contact seed.fund@rmit.edu.au

The RMIT Seed Fund

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