Mi-Kickstart Early-Stage Funding

Mi-Kickstart Awards are a part of the MTRAC for Life Sciences Innovation Hub – a statewide program that accelerates the transfer of technologies from Michigan’s institutions of higher education to the private sector for commercialization.

Made possible by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, MTRAC for Life Sciences Innovation Hub, the U-M Medical School Office of Research, and the Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research (MICHR), Mi-Kickstart Awards offer early-stage funding to biomedical researchers across the state of Michigan. This award is aimed to enhance the commercial potential of a technology owned by any Michigan-based non-profit to the point of demonstration of utility and possible inclusion in the Mi-TRAC for Life Sciences or other research funding programs.

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The Mi-Kickstart Awards offer funding in the $21,250-$42,500 direct cost range, with all awarded projects requiring a cost share from the investigator/institution. Beginning in 2020, the Mi-Kickstart program will be moving to a semi-annual RFP, with proposals due on February 1 and August 1.

All interested researchers must complete a pre-submission application before submitting a full proposal.

Proposals must address a discrete milestone that is critical to the advancement of research to the point of product development. This milestone will increase the commercialization potential of the overall research project to the point where it can be considered a strong candidate for further translational research funding and ultimately commercialization. Examples include in-vivo testing, prototype development, beta development and testing, or drug-candidate pre-clinical work.

Frequently Asked Questions

Mi-Kickstart awards are given quarterly, with proposals for these early-stage awards due February 1, May 1, August 1, and November 1 of each year. Mi-TRAC proposals are due September 2017.

Process Overview

  1. Provide a pre-submission application. Send the completed application to Sara Johnson, Biomedical Innovation Specialist at johnssar@umich.edu.
  2. Meet with FFMI staff to determine an appropriate research plan, key milestones, and success metrics. Mentorship will be provided during the award period to guide further commercialization efforts.
  3. Receive approval for 50% cost sharing. Potential sources include your Department Chair, donor contributions, grants (with written approval of the grantor), or other institutional sources.
  4. Submit full proposal via UMMS Competition Space website.
  5. Award decision will be provided within 6 weeks.
  6. Reporting and mentorship.

The MTRAC for Life Sciences Innovation Hub is using the University of Michigan’s Competition Space to manage the proposal submission process. The full RFP and other instructions can be found there. Proposals will be evaluated on the basis of scientific-merit, potential health care impact and significance, the potential for commercialization, and the likelihood of obtaining further support.

The MTRAC for Life Sciences Innovation Hub provides resources to support translational projects in the life sciences with high commercial potential. Funding focuses on four specific market segments, or “verticals”: devices, diagnostics, therapeutics and healthcare IT. Mi-Kickstart early-stage awards fund preliminary studies, development activities, and milestone setting.

Project budgets depend on the scope of work and technology. Funds dispersed depend on achievement of prospectively agreed upon milestones, which are project specific. Mi-Kickstart awards offer funding in the $21,250-$42,500 direct cost range.

Note that all budgets will require a 50% cost share from the investigator/institution to be placed into a cost-share account prior to project initiation. For example, for a proposed project budget of $40,000, 50% ($20,000) will be provided by the sponsor and 50% ($20,000) will be provided by the investigator. Cost-share options may include departmental/institutional funds, grants, donors or foundations, etc. Contact Sara Johnson, Biomedical Innovation Specialist, at johnssar@umich.edu or 734-764-5598 for details related to budgets, cost share options, indirect costs, etc.

The budget amount can be used towards research and development materials, supplies, and equipment; animal purchases, housing, and care; contract and consultancy services; and salaries. Large capital equipment purchases are not allowed. The total amount of salary support requested will be considered when analyzing the competitiveness of each proposal. Salary support is expected to be less than 25% of the total budget. Limited exceptions to this guideline will apply, such as when extensive software development is required. Tuition support is not available.

The MTRAC for Life Sciences Innovation Hub Mi-Kickstart Oversight Committee is comprised of experienced leaders in translational science commercialization and technology transfer from the participating institutions across Michigan. Mi-Kickstart proposals are reviewed and awarded quarterly by the Oversight Committee.


Have questions about Mi-Kickstart early-stage funding? Contact Sara Johnson, Biomedical Innovation Specialist, at johnssar@umich.edu or 734-764-5598.