2022 MTRAC AgBio Innovation Challenge Opportunity (Spring)

2022 MTRAC AgBio Innovation Challenge Opportunity (Spring)

people in laboratory performing experiments


MTRAC AgBio Innovation Challenge 

The MTRAC AgBio Innovation Hub at MSU is pleased to announce the 2022 AgBio Innovation Challenge (Spring).  The Challenge is an opportunity for innovators at Michigan’s public universities, non-profit research institutes and public hospital systems to identify AgBio applications for early-stage technologies under development in their laboratories or institutions.  The objective of the challenge is to increase awareness and interest (among researchers) in the wide range of technical challenges now facing businesses and end-users operating in the agriculture, biomaterials and bioprocessing markets.

What is the Challenge?  The Innovation Challenge is a pilot competition intended to identify key conceptual bridges between nascent and emerging technologies and specific, high-value applications in the AgBio market.  Its purpose is to encourage awareness, innovation and investment in translational AgBio research among Michigan innovators.  Those with a truly unique insight and high likelihood of developing into significant translational research and commercialization efforts in a short timeframe will generally score the highest.  Of particular interest are those technology applications that can help Michigan AgBio businesses compete more successfully in national and international  markets.

Who is eligible to compete?  Principle investigators and post-doctoral scholars at Michigan public universities, public hospital systems and non-profit research institutes are eligible to compete.  Interdisciplinary teams are welcome as well.  Awards made to teams will be split between members. 
Why should I compete?  Awards of $1,000 to $10,000 are available for winning submissions.  Funds allocated to the Innovation Challenge are sufficient to cover at least one of each of the following level awards:  Transformation: $10,000; Innovation: $7,500; Exploration: $5000; Activation: $2,500; Inspiration: $1,000.  Whether or not all awards are made depends on the number and quality of submissions received.  The concept papers are evaluated according to their viability, originality and other factors described in the Innovation Challenge program documents and summarized in the next section.  Some or all of the awards may be duplicated or eliminated in any competition cycle, depending on the number and quality of papers received, as well as available funding.  Awards are made to the awardee’s approved institutional research (or, in some cases, professional development) account with the intent of helping the researcher develop the technology concept or conduct other translational research.  Awardees must be planning to remain with their current employer for a period of at least 1 yr beyond the award date.

When is my submission due?  The MTRAC AgBio Innovation Hub will begin receiving submissions for the Innovation Challenge on May 12, 2022.  Submissions may be made until 5:00 PM on Monday, June 13, 2022.   Please submit concept paper through email to Weian Ou (ouweian@msu.edu). 

What is the award criteria?  The Challenge is intended to match promising new technologies with important problems and opportunities in the AgBio marketplace.  Awards are made based on the degree to which the concept papers: (i) identify an emerging university-owned* technology (preferably, one on which the applicant or a direct collaborator has worked) with potential commercial applications in the AgBio market; (ii) identify one or more specific and novel AgBio applications for the technology and assess the value/significance of those applications; (iii) provide a description of the rationale (why not how) for using the technology to address the AgBio problems; (iv) discuss the potential advantage such an application could confer to one or more category of Michigan agricultural or bio-based businesses; and (v) provide a simple description of key resources (people, skills, tools, etc), critical steps and timeline needed to develop an initial prototype to address those applications. 
How do I structure and submit an Innovation Challenge paper? The body of the MTRAC Innovation Challenge product concept paper is limited to 3 page, single-spaced text paper (in 11-12 pt Arial font; 1 inch margins). The references, figures and supporting appendices are limited to a total of 3 pages with same text style requirements.  The cover page (see application cover sheet) is not considered part of the page count, but it is required for a complete submission.  The paper must be the original work of the applicant and not simply copy ideas already resident in the literature. Further details of the requirements, scope and purpose of the MTRAC AgBio Innovation Challenge are summarized on the MTRAC AgBio Innovation Hub web site.

Due June 13, 2022: MTRAC AgBio Innovation Challenge   
Researchers interested in MTRAC funding should contact Program Director Joseph A. Affholter (jaffholt@msu.edu ) or Program Assistant Weian Ou (ouweian@msu.edu) for more information. Informational group webinars available upon request.

AgBio Innovation Challenge Brochure

MEDC(Michigan Economic Development Corporation) logo

The Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization Innovation Hub for AgBio is jointly funded by Michigan State University and the State of Michigan 21st Century Jobs Fund, received through the Michigan Strategic Fund and administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation


Three Step Process

Three Step Process diagram.  1. Proposal submission 2. MTRAC review 3. Award up to $10,000


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