RMIT Research Translation Seed Fund

The RMIT Research Translation Seed Fund (Seed Fund) addresses a critical funding gap between laboratory-stage research and investment-ready ventures.

Bridging this gap will enable RMIT researchers to develop research projects that attract further growth funding from industry or government partners to enable them to translate their research into real world, economic, social and environmental outcomes.

Successful applicants will receive up to $25,000 per project as well as training in research translation and product development.

Benefits of the Seed Fund include:

  • value creation while reducing risks towards successful research translation
  • participation in regular research translation workshops, coaching and mentoring programs and pitching events
  • development of entrepreneurial and communication capability.

Eligibility

All RMIT researchers, including graduate researchers and academic staff, are eligible to apply. Staff must remain affiliated with RMIT for the duration of the Seed Fund Project.

To be considered for the Seed Fund, projects must have a clearly identified value proposition which is aligned to risk mitigation pathways.

A project leader will have overall responsibility for delivering the project. This person 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.

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.

Previous projects

The Seed Fund supports a range of early-stage translation projects, such as the following examples from the 2016 pilot program:

Market feasibility assessment

  • Project: A market assessment for enabling technologies for mass customisation using the design, manufacturing and construction of customised facades as a case study.
  • Purpose: Due diligence to verify the market potential of a particular translation concept.
  • Outcome: This lowered risk for potential future industry partnerships.

Proof of concept

  • Project: Prototyping a non-invasive wearable device to diagnose sleep apnoea.
  • Purpose: To provide credible evidence of efficacy or feasibility.
  • Outcome: Intellectual property risk was reduced, making it easier to validate a bigger secondary project that would result in a patent.

Minimum viable product (MVP) development

  • Project: Developing an MVP game app (prototype) to engage moviegoers and learn their content preferences in a novel and interesting way.
  • Purpose: To enable market testing to be undertaken in order to produce evidence of market appeal.
  • Outcome: This lowered the risk for potential industry partnerships by demonstrating demand for the prototype.

Technology incubation

  • Project: To commercially deploy CAMS-buildings and CAMS-mobile to create impact from ARC funded research on deterioration modelling of buildings.
  • Purpose: To provide a significant and measurable increase in technology readiness level or equivalent and verifiable measure of translation maturity.
  • Outcome: This allowed the team to map the overall strategic plan for their research.

Funding arrangements

Fund support

Up to $25,000 per project.

Funding duration

3- 6 months.

Payment

Funds will be paid after pre-agreed and documented milestones are met. Should the milestones not be met, payment may not occur.

Funding agreement

A funding agreement will be struck between RMIT and the recipient. The project will commence upon signed receipt of the funding agreement.

Accountability

Projects must be led by a nominated project leader who will be accountable for the delivery of project milestones.

Application process

Applications to the Seed Fund are invited at any time of the year. Progress through the Seed Fund will be based on the following two documents:

  • one page ‘Lean Research Canvas’ initially to build a translation project proposal
  • 10 slide ‘Pitch Deck’ subsequently after initial translation project concept has been fully developed.

Applications must be submitted using these documents.

Selected applicants will be invited to a pitch session to present their pitch to the Seed Fund Panel.

Pitch sessions will take place approximately four times a year. These will be closed sessions in front of a Panel (comprising relevant RMIT staff members and potentially external subject matter experts). This will usually involve a seven minute presentation, followed by 15-20 minutes of questions.

After the Panel has made its decision about which projects to fund, successful teams will be notified and details of the funding provided. Applicants who were unsuccessful will also be notified and provided with recommendations on alternative pathways.

Apply now.

Key activities

Pitching sessions

Up to four per year.

Information sessions and development workshops

Monthly.

Coaching and mentoring sessions

Available on a case by case basis to help applicants develop their value proposition and scope their project.

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?

Previous recipients are welcome to resubmit for subsequent rounds if they can correctly articulate how they will meet the criteria for seed funding and can demonstrate how their research translation has progressed since their previous project.

Can I reapply if I have been unsuccessful in obtaining seed funding?

Yes. Applicants are encouraged to continually iterate and refine their research translation strategies. It is hoped that the process of applying and attending the 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. Places for the workshops are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Can I be a project leader if I haven’t previously been involved with the research?

All projects require a project leader who is accountable for the project milestones. This does not have to be someone who has previously been involved with the research. What is important is that you can convince the Panel that you have a team with the necessary expertise, drive and availability to deliver your research translation potential.

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

Through the application process the Seed Fund team will call in external industry 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.

I have ideas for ventures not directly related to my research. Can I apply for seed funding?

The Seed Fund is for the translation of RMIT research only. Individuals with other business project ideas are encouraged to contact the RMIT Activator.

What happens at the end of the funding period?

Upon successful completion of a Seed Fund project you will have achieved milestones which will further the translation potential of your research by making it more attractive to external funding partners. The seed fund is the start of the research translation journey and not an end goal.

What happens if I do not achieve the agreed milestones?

The seed funds may be at risk if the project has not reached the agreed milestones. The relevant staff in the RMIT Research and Innovation portfolio (with whom the funding agreements are made) will determine if the milestones have been adequately met.

Resources

Further information

For further information, email seed.fund@rmit.edu.au.

Research Translation Seed Fund

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