The Early Stage Commercialization Fund (ESCF) helps move New Brunswick university, college and institutional research to market. The ESCF assists the academic & institutional research communities in pursuing commercialization opportunities by providing up to $50,000 in funding and go-to-market support. Projects must demonstrate a readiness to advance a technology that has achieved, or is close to achieving, a prototype/proof-of-concept stage. They must also demonstrate that a technology is approaching market readiness with a possibility of attracting industry partners and/or investment.
Projects can be applied for in one of two phases:
- Phase 1: for technologies that have achieved proof of concept and are now in initial stages of development. An opportunity for commercialization has been identified.
- Phase 2: projects have clarified the opportunity for commercialization as well as target markets and potential revenue streams. They have had initial discussions with potential customers and have established a collaboration with a potential licensing partner or identified a spin out opportunity.
*Note: Innovacorp and New Brunswick Innovation Foundation (NBIF) are proud to be working together to deliver the Early Stage Commercialization Fund (ESCF) in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. We are excited to extend the reach of the ESCF into other jurisdictions and have worked together to align application and evaluation procedures across our two provinces. While we share the evaluation process, applicants from Nova Scotia research institutes must apply through the Innovacorp website (link), and applicants from New Brunswick research institutes through the NBIF website for award disbursements and reporting.
As a research and early-stage venture capital funding organization, New Brunswick Innovation Foundation (NBIF) seeks to find and fund technologies and ideas with the potential for venture capital investment through the Early Stage Commercialization Fund (ESCF). We welcome applicants who might consider licensing their technology, but preference will be given to projects with the potential for a venture-grade spin-out company.
Our objectives through the ESCF are to:
- Promote and accelerate technology transfer activities in New Brunswick post-secondary and research institutions.
- Assess the commercial potential of the intellectual property.
- Narrow the gap that exists in the research commercialization process by linking our applied research and venture capital activities.
- Enable projects to move closer to industry collaboration(s) or a spin-out opportunity(ies) by providing financial support and mentorship.
Applicants may apply for up to $50,000 for projects in either Phase 1 or Phase 2. A given project can receive at most one Phase 1 award and one Phase 2 award, up to a maximum of $50,000 in each phase. The applicant will need to complete Phase 1 before applying for Phase 2 funding.
Research personnel, including professors, research staff, and faculty members, at approved New Brunswick research institutes are eligible to apply*. Applications from graduate students/college students and post-docs will be considered, provided a faculty member is a co-applicant. Projects in each phase must be completed within 1 year.
Eligible expenses include:
- Intellectual property development
- Assessment of market potential
- Development of go-to-market strategies
- Business plans and strategic plans
- Development of intellectual property protection strategies
- Proof-of-concept or prototype development (can cover cost of students and post-doctoral researchers but not the principal investigator)
- Technology design and optimization
Eligible costs are limited to labour, direct materials and expenses, and business consulting. Patent costs are limited to 10 percent of the overall funding request. Equipment, company development activities, marketing materials, web creation and other costs challenging to attribute directly to the advancement of the technology of an individual project are generally ineligible but may be considered if pre-approved by NBIF.
Applications will be reviewed by NBIF and Innovacorp team members and will be assessed based on the following criteria:
- Uniqueness and importance of technology; considerations may include features and benefits, current stage of development and proprietary position.
- The commercial significance of technology; considerations may include: Description of the market, competitive analysis, the potential for commercial return
- Commercial readiness of technology; considerations may include: Closeness to commercial readiness, qualifications/experience of the project team, understanding of potential obstacles and alternatives, strength of IP, regulatory and reimbursement strategy, the potential for a venture-grade spin-out company
After an initial review, a shortlist of applications will be communicated and those on the shortlist will be required to pitch live to a review committee as the final step in their evaluation (could be internal or external).
A detailed technical report, including a financial report of expenses, will be required at the end of the 1-year funding period. Applicants will also be required to meet monthly with an NBIF team member to discuss results of the project and potential next steps. As mentioned above, one of the objectives and priorities of this fund is to advance technologies to create venture-grade start-ups, so follow-up contact will be made to determine viability of this path to commercialization. Failure to provide the necessary reports may disqualify future applications from the applicant. All announcements (e.g., media releases) related to ESCF are to be reviewed by NBIF in advance.
The ESCF will run for a period of three years with a total of 3 funding rounds. The first will launch in January 2021, and the others will be announced at a later date (tentatively in Fall 2021 and Winter 2022). Each round has two types of funding: Phase 1 and Phase 2.
- Phase 1 is for first-time projects with technologies in initial stages of development and an opportunity for commercialization identified.
- Phase 2 is for projects that have:
- identified an opportunity for commercialization, target markets and potential revenue streams
- initiated discussions with potential customers • established a collaboration with a commercial partner or identified a spin-out opportunity*