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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce
OIE Background

Office of Innovation and
Entrepreneurship (OIE)

University Of Toledo


Toledo, OH

Project Name

The University of Toledo Rocket Fuel Fund



Award Amount


Funding from this i6 Challenge grant will allow the University of Toledo (UT) to create the University of Toledo Rocket Fuel Fund (UTRFF) to provide resources to drive academic discoveries towards commercialization at northwest Ohio academic institutions and other nonprofit organizations. The program will allow researchers from across the region to establish an earlier point of contact with UT’s successful continuum of programs designed to support economic development for the entire northwest Ohio region, including women and minorities who are typically underrepresented in innovation and entrepreneurship. Eligibility will be restricted to faculty/staff from UT and other institutions from the entire 18 county northwest Ohio region with nascent technologies that demonstrate a need for funding and/or access to wet lab space to move them towards commercialization.

Including the $500,000 provided by the EDA and UT’s match, nearly $800,000 in cash will be available over three years to move those technologies forward. Typical “Fuel” grants will range from $5,000 to $50,000 per request and will be awarded to enhance the scope or patentability of inventions and improve commercialization potential through targeted research, customer discovery, and business model and prototype development. Importantly, funding for pharmaceutical development will be included for small molecule development and other testing for that important work. The evaluation criteria will include: (1) qualifications and experience of the proposer; (2) technical merit of the concept; (3) appraisal of the market and commercial opportunity; (4) quality of technology development plan; (5) strength of intellectual property; and (6) relevance for start-up formation or new job creation.

Key partners include northwest Ohio’s Regional Growth Partnership, Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, Minority Business Development Center, Catharine S. Eberly Center for Women, ProMedica Innovations, and the Ohio Development Services Agency, which recognize that the UT’s Rocket Innovations, Office of Technology Transfer, and LaunchPad Incubator are in a unique position to take the lead in nurturing entrepreneurship by virtue of UT’s academics and research labs.