Popular proof of concept funding program to continue!

Published Nov 29, 2017

The successful VFT-1 proof of concept funding program to continue 2018-2019

Just recently, VINNOVA announced that KTH Innovation will receive additional funding during 2018-2019 for its commercial verification funding program VFT-1. KTH received the largest share of funding amongst all Swedish universities that applied, a total of 9.2 MSEK. The funds are allocated to the development and showing proof of concept for innovative ideas from both researchers and students. This new injection of cash will fund at least 100-150 projects who will be able to spend it on things like market analysis, prototyping, securing patents, building teams, travelling to meet with industry etc.

KTH Innovation has operated the VFT-1 funding program since 2012. The funding shall support and enable the first steps to verify and develop a viable business concept which often includes assessing market need and interest, prototyping and pilot user testing. The goal is to take projects closer to commercialization, prepare them for additional funding or be ready for establishing partnerships with industry. The maximum funding per project is 300 KSEK in grants paid in installments to iteratively verify and answer key questions.

- This is a great program for researchers and students in need of funding to commercialize or create impact with their ideas or research projects, says Daniel Carlsson, project manager for the VFT-1 program at KTH Innovation. We have achieved very strong results with this relatively small funding that enables many key activities that do not fit with traditional research funding, he adds.

In their evaluation, VINNOVA considered KTH to have shown “highly functioning processes for commercialization and impressive results in the form of new companies”. Looking at the results so far from over 200 projects key indicators show that the program has clear and positive effect on the chances of taking technologies towards implementation and commercialization. Some examples are:

  • Customer contacts - on average a VFT-1 funding results in 8 contacts with potential customer/partners
  • Pilot testing - 25% of VFT-1 projects resulted in a strengthened relationship with customers/partners 
  • Incorporation - in 50% of projects a company has been formed
  • Incubation - in 20% of projects a company has been incubated for start-up expansion. This is 22 companies having been incubated in STING and 18 companies in other incubators.
  • Follow on funding - 20% of projects have secured private funding from investors (a total of 240 MSEK) and an additional 30 % have secured larger public follow-on funding sucha as from the EU (a total of 125 MSEK).
  • Survival rate - 60% of projects are still alive and 40% are considered successful in the sense that a deal has been made with industry/partners around IP, for example, or a company has been formed that is developing further.

Daniel Carlsson says these results show the value of creating contacts with the market, industry and users at a very early stage. Besides direct effects such as a greater number of KTH start-ups, there are also more long term positive effects on impact of KTH research. A side effect of the funding is that researchers find more industry contacts and colaborations that, even if commercialization might not happen right now, have shown can lead to joint research projects or successful research funding applications, he says.

If you have research results and you need funding to evaluate the commercial potential, please contact us at innovation@kth.se

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