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A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

Changes made to CIT's
tech program

By Susan Trulove

Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 29 - April 23, 1998

One of Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology's (CIT) most successful vehicles for assisting technology-based companies in bringing products and services to market has been its Technology Awards program.
The Technology Awards program offers funding for technology-development projects that promote innovation in Virginia. The Technology Awards program consists of three types of awards: Innovation Awards, Challenge Awards, and, SBIR Phase I Awards. For each of these awards, a company partners with an intellectual resource--a Virginia university or college--with the necessary technical expertise to solve a problem. CIT funds go directly to the intellectual resource to leverage the funds that the company has invested at that resource.
During an extensive review of this program in which CIT involved the program's customers--CIT's clients and partners--several concerns were raised. CIT's evaluation revealed that both faculty researchers and the companies they assist using CIT's Technology Awards program are most concerned about two aspects of the program: matching requirements placed on the companies and lack of an administrative allowance to the institutions performing the research.
A third minor concern was the lack of project management on the company's side. Due to these findings, substantial changes have been made to CIT's Technology Awards program which may be of interest to faculty members working on projects under this program.
Program changes include a sliding cash-match scale for companies. Previously, a company was required to provide a minimum cash match of 1 to 1. The company was required to match every dollar the company was requesting from CIT. Since the majority of the companies CIT assists are small companies, a sliding scale was enacted based on company size. Therefore, smaller companies are now not required to provide the same funding level as larger companies.
CIT has re-examined its administrative allowance policy. CIT does not pay overhead costs and this policy has not changed. To assist the universities' departments and schools in covering their administrative costs, CIT will apply a 20-percent administrative allowance on its portion of the research project budget, for all Technology Awards (i.e., Challenge, Innovation, and SBIR I awards only) projects regardless of whether they are commercially successful.
A pre-proposal requirement was enacted to provide earlier feedback to both the university PI and the company. This change will help the companies and the universities in planning their proposal. In addition, CIT will be able to assist in the development of the proposal and also notify the university PI and company if the project does not fit under CIT's Technology Awards program. This change will make the system more efficient for all involved.
Finally, to promote project management, CIT is requiring companies to provide a partnership plan addressing how the company will manage the project with the university PI. In addition, there will be quarterly progress reports by the PI and the company is required to sign each progress report to indicate their acknowledgment of the project status.
For more information regarding the Technology Awards program, contact CIT Regional Director Gary Atkinson, at gary@cit.org; Technology Awards Manager Susan Meek at susan@cit.org, or Tom Caruso, Virginia Tech's industry program development specialist at tcaruso@vt.edu.