Typical investments range from $50K – $250K in total costs of PLSG monies and, consistent with the PLSG’s mission and its policies and procedures, are left at the discretion of the Executive- in-Residence (EIR). Investments require a 1:1 match, which may be cash or in-kind (personnel time, equipment use, materials, software or reduced overhead).Since it is expected that projects will have technical and commercial tasks, a portion of the TDF funds may be used for business development milestones tied to and appropriate for an early-stage technology development project. In general, the PLSG accepts that approximately 10% of the total TDF funds requested may be used for business development activities; prior PLSG approval is required for any amounts in excess of 10% that funding recipients wish to spend for this purpose. Costs incurred for this project are allowed to be back-charged for up to 30 days from the day of execution of the investment agreement. Funding for personnel and consulting costs must be expended within western Pennsylvania. Exemptions may be granted upon request to the PLSG and in the PLSG’s judgment with justification and evidence of best attempt to hire a regional professional. TDF funds may not be used to cover expenses including, but not necessarily limited to, travel expenses to meetings, maintenance agreements, page charges, telephone charges and any other expenses already covered in overhead charges. PLSG monies may not be used to retire accrued debt.
Once a proposal has been approved for investment, the scope of work and any other material component of the proposal may not be changed without written approval from the PLSG. Any such changes desired by a company must be requested in writing to the PLSG prior to being undertaken and will be considered consistent with the due diligence and other evaluation principles and standards governing the PLSG’s review of initial proposals/applications.
Initial proposals should be no more than 12 pages of 1.5-spaced 12-point type, including all tables, graphics and other supporting materials. Requests to modify or otherwise change initial proposals may not need to restate all information provided in initial proposals; companies are encouraged to contact the Director of Investment Programs to discuss and understand what information the PLSG deems necessary to act on requests to modify/change. Initial proposals must be organized according to the following outline:
1) Title and Abstract Pages. (Use form supplied) Include title of project, name of company, technical and administrative contact information, overall budget and project duration. The abstract should have a maximum of 250 words. It should include a project description understandable by a non-technical specialist and a statement of deliverables. This summary should be nonproprietary. Submit completed title and abstract pages electronically as pages 1 and 2 of the proposal. The signed cover sheet must be submitted in hard copy to the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, Attn: Director of Investment Programs, 2425 Sidney Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203.
2) Summary of the Current State of the Technology.
- Describe the need or problem that the technology addresses, and the current state-of-the-art approach, practice or treatment to meet the need.
- Describe key deficiencies that exist in the field. Which of these deficiencies will the new technology fill?
- Describe what other technical approaches are being crafted to address the deficiencies in the field.
3) Proposed Project Plan. The project plan should include sufficient information for the evaluation of the project. Indicate whether data has been omitted due to confidentiality.
- Specific Aims. Objectives and the hypothesis to be tested. What need or problem does the project address?
- Competitive Approaches. How does the approach compare with other technical approaches to the same need or problem? What advantages/disadvantage exist for these approaches?
- Preliminary Studies. Provide information to support the capacity of the principals to complete the work. Has any preliminary work been done to date? How will this work relate to the long-term objectives?
- Experimental Design and Methods. Describe how the experiments will be conducted. Point out the technical hurdles and how they might be circumvented.
- Timetables and Milestones. Describe the milestones, both technical and commercial, that will be reached midterm and upon completion of the project. Identify who is responsible for completing each task. Summarize milestones and responsible personnel in a table. (use form supplied)
4) Market Potential of the Invention.
- Describe the market need that is filled or met by the invention.
- Define the target market or customer for this invention. Are there other markets for which it may have application? What products currently serve the target market? How will the technology supplant these existing products?
- Estimate the size of the market (e.g. number of patients, sales of competitive products, users of the technology, etc.)
- Explain why this is a growing market
5) Status of Intellectual Property. Describe what has been disclosed and/or protected covering the technology described. What are other patents related to the technology? Are further invention disclosures or patents anticipated from this project? Document results of a patent search, including keywords or search terms used, results and website/database used.
6) Relevance to the goals of the PLSG. Describe the likely commercialization pathway. How will this project contribute to the goals of the PLSG to create, attract and/or retain jobs locally?
7) Key risks. What are the biggest technical risks? What regulatory approvals are needed?
8) Budget. (Use form supplied) Detail and justify proposed direct and indirect costs for personnel, materials and equipment. Include information on proposed matching contributions. Describe any cost-sharing or in-kind support that will apply to this project, including the source and amount. Indicate effort for personnel on the project.
9) Qualifications of key personnel. Include a summary of no more than four pages describing the qualifications of each key participant in the project (The standard four page NIH format is acceptable).
10) Suggested Reviewers. Please describe the qualifications/background of potential reviewers that would be most suitable to evaluate the technology and its benefits.
11) Forms to be submitted with this proposal
- Coversheet (see Section 1)
- Milestones Table (See Section 3e)
- Budget (See Section 8)
Selection Process and Criteria
PLSG intends to subject initial proposal applications and, as applicable, modification proposal applications to a multi-stage review process, including 1) scientific review, technical merit of the proposed project and 2) the recommendations of the PLSG’s Investment Advisory Committee.
Screening and mentoring by Executives-in-Residence (EIR):
Each prospective applicant is assigned to an EIR who serves as mentor. The EIR and Program Director work closely with the company management to ensure that the proposal meets all eligibility criteria and mission of the program. At this stage, the application is considered a ‘draft application’. The team working with the company will look at criteria such as, but not limited to:
Quality of the proposed milestones;
Soundness of the budget;
Probability of technical and commercial success;
Potential for leveraging other funds;
Intellectual Property protection
Once the EIR validates that all criteria have been met, the application will be accepted as a ‘formal application.’
Review by external sources:
External consultants will review the application for technical merit and completeness of the development plan. No fewer than two reviewers will complete confidential reviews of the proposal and submit a rating sheet to the PLSG. The technical review will center on the following criteria:
Overall technical and commercial merit of proposed work and deliverables;
Applicant’s capabilities and experience relevant to the project deliverables;
Understanding of the market need and competing approaches;
Appropriateness of budget and effort proposed;
Intellectual Property protection;
Relevance to the goals of the PLSG.
If the application receives favorable review and meets all eligibility criteria, the applicant company will be invited to make a presentation on the project to the PLSG Investment Advisory Committee. The Investment Advisory Committee is comprised of PLSG Executive Management and members of the PLSG Executive Program. A vote of a majority of the Committee is required to make a funding recommendation to the PLSG Executive Management, which then makes a determination regarding final investment approval.
Additional due diligence: A project recommended for funding may undergo additional due diligence assessment prior to the Investment Advisory Committee making a final funding recommendation. Information gathered during the due diligence process may be shared with other investment organizations such as but not limited to, Idea Foundry, Innovation Works, UPMC Health Ventures, Novitas Capital and New Spring Capital.
The PLSG will notify all applicants of its decisions regarding their proposal applications. The PLSG reserves the right to select for investment, all, some or none of the proposals received. The PLSG also reserves the right to select portions of individual proposals for investment.