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[advising groups on leading tactics in technology commercialization, tech/startup investing, and open innovation

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Gap Funding Web Summit


The Mind the Gap Web Summit is a practitioner-driven series for those interested in university-affiliated proof of concept and startup gap funding. Through interactive web-based exchanges and associated tools, we are offering this resource for new/tenured fund managers and stakeholders.

Participants can freely use both the recorded events and associated presentations within their own organization to communicate the importance and to develop the capabilities to effectively manage and evolve their gap funding program.

This format was chosen to deliver a cost-effective option to include deeper discussion and expanded perspectives from leading experts and practitioners backed by over a decade of experience with over 200 funds.

The six sessions, described below, will be delivered through access to recorded sessions and downloadable presentations.

Web Event Line-up

From our analysis of over 50 University-affiliated Proof of Concept programs, we have observed their strength in moving technology to a point of commercialization, while acting as an effective means to leverage and attract outside capital and expertise.

Proof of Concept (POC) gap funds evaluate commercial potential, demonstrate the value, and generally de-risk (or perception of risk) the project to commercial partners or investors. Achievements like prototypes and commercial assessment help to identify and secure a route to commercialization, if one exists. POC funds also identify weakness in the technology for further development, or help avoid costs by deciding not pursue the technology

These funds are often administered centrally through the technology transfer office, research foundation, central research administration, or the equivalent at the college-level. Externally-partnered public funds, accelerators, and corporate funds run independently or in close collaboration with the research institution.

In this session, we will hear from leading fund managers regarding their strategies for:

  • Raising and sustaining POC funds
  • Communicating the fund and sourcing projects
  • Working with faculty/student inventors throughout the process
  • Evaluating projects for funding
  • External collaboration with industry, entrepreneurs, and investors as funding sources and advisory support
  • Oversight and management of funded projects


David Allen
Vice President, Tech Launch Arizona/POC Fund
University of Arizona
Crossno 2
Seth Crossno
Commmercialization Program Manager, Chancellor’s Innovation Fund
North Carolina State University
Martina Pace
Manager, Tech Transfer Office/TAKEOFF Fund
University of Malta



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Jacob Johnson
Founder, innovosource
Author, Mind the Gap

Startup Formation gap funds assist in the formational steps of spin-outs — even prior to becoming a legal entity. This gap fund type could be seen as a startup-focused extension of proof of concept funding that further develops the business application of the technology through market research, product development, business development, management, space, and equipment to attract third party interest and capital

These funds are primarily administered by the technology transfer office and associated venture centers. External public-private arrangements to support business creation are administered by sponsoring agency or through close collaboration with the research institution


Startup Growth gap funds invest in scaling and growing established spin-outs. Research institutions have created, spun out, or partnered with seed funds and accelerators, both public and private, to fill this void in early stage startup capital and to directly invest in their own startups. Some institutions are even beginning to invest in non-institution startups.

Centrally managed Startup Growth gap funds are limited based on the required capital. To overcome this challenge and mitigate risk, research institutions may partner with existing early stage venture firms or corporate investor groups

In this session, we will hear from leading fund managers regarding their strategies for:

  • Raising and sustaining startup funds
  • Communicating the fund and sourcing startups
  • Working with faculty/student inventors throughout the process
  • Evaluating startups for funding
  • External collaboration with industry, entrepreneurs, and investors as funding sources and advisory support
  • Oversight and management of funded startups


Bob Creeden
Managing Director, Seed Fund
University of Virginia
Jason Pariso 2
Jason Pariso
Director, Innovation Fund
University of Chicago

Donations, endowments, and direct investments from alumni, private foundations, and other stakeholders of the research institution into supporting gap funding programs, is the largest and growing source of proof of concept and startup funding programs. These friends of the university contribute over 50¢ on every dollar into the formation of these funds.

Proof of concept and startup gap funding programs embody the intersection between research institution innovation, societal benefit, and philanthropy. They offer a natural link to engage alumni, foundations, corporations, and friends of the universities.

These funds and programs require coordination between the Tech Commercialization Offices, Corporate & Foundation Relations , Development Offices, and Alumni Offices and are a great example of the emerging trend of campus-wide collaboration in innovation partnership and commercialization priorities.

Join us as we take a multi-perspective approach to how groups are best structuring their programs for philanthropic partnerships as a major source for innovation funding and support.


Case Cortese (Alumni)
Director, Innovation, New Ventures & Entrepreneurship
California Institute of Technology
Elias Caro (Foundation)
VP Technology Development,
Wallace H. Coulter Foundation
Erica Smith (Foundation)
Director, Research Awards
Wallace H. Coulter Foundation
Jacob Johnson (Crowdfunding)

Over 30 states in the US and countless established and emerging innovation economies across the globe are actively supporting these funding programs. In our most recent survey, over 30% of all gap funding support came from these agencies and initiatives.

State, regional, and federal governments are a growing source of funding for translational research, proof of concept, and startup funding often in collaboration and support of opportunities stemming from research institutions. These initiatives are motivated by the promise of economic development, and business and talent development/attraction/retention.

Join us to take a look into these programs and here from both university-public gap funding partnerships to learn how to develop and expand on these collaborations


Nancy Vorona
VP, Research Investment
Center for Innovative Technology (Virginia)
Marco Rubin
Senior Investment Director
Center for Innovative Technology (Virginia)
Denise Graves
University Relations Director
Michigan Economic Development Corporation
Matt McCooe
Connecticut Innovations

While just a small percentage of the total venture, corporate, angel activity, the role that early stage investors has and should play in the early development of research institution technologies and  startups should not be discounted.

More than the capital itself, these investors and partners bring a wealth of market knowledge and networks of management talent and business connections. Research institutions can take advantage of this resource by strategically integrating investors and corporations into their operation, especially in evaluatory and advisory functions.

In this session, we will discuss how active relationship-building between research institutions and the investment and corporate community supports operations, orders startup priorities, and strategically directs limited development capital in the near-term, while setting up the possibility for later investment and commercial partnership.

Gap funding programs have a much broader impact than financial return alone, and are more appropriately assessed on their ability to improve the innovation capability and landscape surrounding research institutions and affiliated stakeholders.

In fact, most of their immediate and near-term returns are better represented in their ability to catalyze the commercialization process, to build support communities that can assist in the development of funded projects, and to convert those projects into commercial entities that create jobs and enrich local and regional economies; but, perhaps the most exciting observation is that gap funding programs are playing a direct role in attracting outside capital and expertise.

In this session, we will suggest a structure for measuring gap funding impact, both financial and programmatic, that gap fund programs and managers can use to better demonstrate the impact of their program. These measures align gap funding practices with the mission of the research university, and other public and private sources of early stage capital, while demonstrating how the practice supports innovation and commercialization on a larger scale, including:

  • Catalyzing the Commercialization Process
  • Growing a Community of Innovation
  • Building Businesses and Creating Jobs
  • Attracting Capital and Expertise
  • Returning Capital to the Gap Funding Program

*After selecting desired option, registration can be processed  by invoice or direct purchasing card payment

Product Description

Access Options

Access to Single Event

  • Ongoing access to single event recording and materials (select from list during product selection)

Access to All 6 Summit Events

  • Organizational access to full six event recordings and materials

Fund Manager Package (40% off individual purchase)

  • Organizational access to full six event recordings and materials
  • Organizational license to Mind the Gap Report
  • Access to Mind the Gap Report powerpoint ready database of all 50+ report figures and charts

Additional Information

Summit Access Options

Create and Manage a Proof of Concept Gap Fund ($99), Create and Manage a Start-up Investment Gap Fund ($99), Capture and Report Results that Matter to Stakeholders ($99), Secure and Sustain Gap Funding Support from Your State and Region ($99), Turn Alumni, Foundations, and Friends of the University into Gap Fund Investors ($99), Attract External Investors to Gap Funded POC Projects and Start-ups ($99), Full Six Session Web Summit Recordings and Presentation Access ($399), Fund Manager Package ($699) (50% off Individual Registrations/Purchases)