Technology Commercialization Proof-of -Concept Grants Available


Venture Catalyst manages three proof-of-concept programs, which provide funding and resources to translate basic UC Davis research with commercial potential by demonstrating proof-of-concept and establishing market viability. These programs also help develop an innovative and entrepreneurial culture that extends the benefits of UC Davis research activities beyond the boundaries of the university.

  1. Science Translation & Innovative Research (STAIR™) Grant
  2. Food Systems Innovation Grant
  3. Data, Informatics & Application Launch (DIAL™) Grant

Key features of the proof-of-concept programs include:

  1. targeted funding to bridge the gap between basic research and early-stage commercialization efforts,
  2. project work conducted over a 12-month period,
  3. Review Committee consisting of industry representatives with corporate, investor, and entrepreneurial expertise,
  4. feedback and guidance on commercialization from members of the Review Committee and the Venture Catalyst team, and
  5. structured entrepreneurial training.

Over the past seven cycles, the proof-of-concept programs have awarded over $2.2 million of funding to 49 projects. These projects have resulted in 22 intellectual property agreements, including 16 startups launched around foundational technologies, and have been able to attract roughly $33 million of follow-on funding. See the list of previous awardees here and view the executive summary for the 2019-20 cycle here.

Venture Catalyst will begin accepting application for the eighth cycle of the proof-of-concept programs on January 19, 2021 with an application deadline of March 3, 2021 at 5:00 pm PST. Applications for all proof-of-concept programs can be submitted through Office of Research’s InfoReady grant application platform (Kerberos login required). The direct links to each grant are as follows:

Potential applicants can view a recorded information session for the 2020-21 cycle. If you would like to request an overview presentation and/or a Q&A session for your department or unit, please email [email protected].

For the STAIR and DIAL Grant programs, Venture Catalyst has engaged campus and industry partners to expand potential funding available to particular technologies and projects through the program. Partners include Elanco, the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences, the UC Davis College of Letters & Science, the UC Davis School of Medicine, and the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. See additional details on types of funding and areas of interest in the program materials below.


Technology Focus

IP Consideration

Project Budget

Funding Available for 2020-21 Cycle

Download Program Materials for 2020-21 Cycle

*Supplemental funding available from campus and industry partners
**All eligible Food Systems Innovation Grant applicants will also be reviewed through the STAIR Grant program

Email questions about any of the proof-of-concept grant programs to [email protected].

Innovation that feeds the world

UC Davis professors, Jorge Dubcovsky of plant sciences and Jan Dvorak of agronomy and range science, examine wheat in a campus field. Photo taken in 2010.

UC Davis professors, Jorge Dubcovsky of plant sciences and Jan Dvorak of agronomy and range science, examine wheat in a campus field.

Jorge Dubcovsky, Ph.D., a worldrenowned plant geneticist who leads the UC Davis wheat breeding program, develops genetic resources for improving the yield, disease-resistance and nutritional value of wheat — one of the most widely grown cereal crops on the planet. Global demand for wheat continues to increase dramatically, up nearly 20% from just ten years ago (U.S. Wheat Associates Annual Report).

Wheat is a vital part of the farming economy in California, grown from the Imperial Valley in the south to the Klamath Basin in the north, and from the inland valleys to the coastal agricultural regions. Due to California’s large size and diverse climate, wheat can be planted for harvest in both the fall and spring seasons, depending on the region. Dubcovsky’s ground-breaking work has enabled researchers and breeders around the world to accelerate the development of more nutritious and better-adapted wheat varieties.

Dubcovsky and his team have released eleven distinct UC wheat varieties, each protected by InnovationAccess under U.S. Plant Variety Protection, and licensed to 30 commercial entities.

Consistent with the land-grant mission of UC Davis, wheat varieties released out of Dubcovsky’s breeding program are licensed only to the California wheat industry during the first three years following release, effectively providing an economic advantage for the state. InnovationAccess works closely with the California Wheat Commission in setting up licensing arrangements. After this initial three-year period, licensing is opened to other geographical areas beyond California.

This year, Dubcovsky’s lab released the ‘Yurok’ wheat variety (UC Case 2016-066), a Dry wheat waves in the sun on Friday May 22, 2015 at UC Davis. This wheat is part of wheat geneticist and UC Davis plant science professor Jorge Dubcovsky's wheat research.semi-dwarf Hard Red Spring variety, which offers a high-yielding plant and a resulting grain with high protein content and excellent bread-making quality. This variety is resistant to current races of stripe rust disease and is well adapted to the Sacramento, San Joaquin and Imperial Valleys in California.