MSU MTRAC | AgBio

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Research and scholarship drive every aspect of Michigan State University's mission. The MSU Innovation Center and the Office of the Vice President for Research are proud to support the Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) Innovation Hub for AgBio. Accelerating commercial development of AgBio projects and housed at MSU, the program expanded to statewide in 2016, as the MTRAC Innovation Hub for AgBio. This is the first in a series of specialized statewide commercialization programs with in-depth domain expertise in specific areas of research.

NOTE: In addition to applying for MTRAC AgBio funding, MSU researchers may also apply to other MTRAC Innovation Hubs in Michigan:

Contact Karen Studer-Rabeler (517.884.1824) or Melanie Adkins (517.884.1659) for assistance with required matching funding and protecting IP through the proposal process.

Eligible MTRAC AgBio projects span a broad range and generally fit under the USDA definition of food, fuel & fiber or anything related to these areas, either as inputs or outputs. Our AgBio definition includes bio-derived/bio-based materials and companion animal veterinary medicine.  Ideal candidates are innovations that have the potential to create superior value-added products and materials. Projects will have shown promise in the laboratory, but need further development in order to become successful in a competitive market. The goal of the MTRAC program is to assist in transitioning these discoveries through to implementation where they can benefit society, with emphasis given to commercialization in Michigan.

  • Tier I MTRAC AgBio Full grants – proposals received annually in the winter, $100K max. 
  • Tier II MTRAC AgBio Starter grants – proposals reviewed twice annually - $25K max. These are intended to provide enough data or other verification to facilitate the submission of a Tier I Full Grant proposal or complete a short-term critical commercialization activity.

Examples of qualifying projects:

  • Converting biomass feed stocks to chemical intermediates, high value oils, monomers, and polymers
  • Developing “trait genes” that selectively promote high-value downstream products
  • Developing microbes and algae for production of chemicals and biofuels
  • Developing technology to pre-treat and process biomass to upgrade the feed stocks and dramatically improve the economics of downstream processing
  • Developing agricultural technologies to reduce the environmental footprint and resource requirements (water, nutrients) in farming

Until September 2018, under the current program, researchers will be able to apply for funding to help drive agriculture-related technology toward commercialization, including support for for prototype development, animal trials, scale-up studies, crop trials, and verification studies.

Key MSU MTRAC Information

Received through the Michigan Strategic Fund and administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), with matching funds from MSU for a total of $2.27M, these funds will be focused on one of Michigan’s core strengths: AgBio science and technology. Learn more about MTRAC at MEDC.

MSU MTRAC has benefitted both faculty and the Mid-Michigan region, from supporting an innovation pipeline for long-term success in commercialization, to fostering the growth of innovative technologies, products and companies that show potential for high growth in Michigan. This program supports the translation of cutting-edge research out of the university and into innovative companies that have potential for high-growth and job retention, and promotes a culture of innovation, discovery and entrepreneurship in Michigan. 

  • This program is open to all technologies that are AgBio related
  • Applicants must be from institutions of higher education, non-profit research centers, and hospital systems in Michigan
  • The relevant technology must have an invention disclosure filed and have an identified commercial application
  • Typical applications for these funds will be prototyping, scale-up studies, animal studies, etc.
  • Initial grants range up to $100k. (See RFP for funding match requirements.) Grants may be competitively renewed upon meeting project milestones
  • Projects involving licensed technologies are ineligible for MTRAC funding
  • All funding decisions are made by an Oversight Committee including entrepreneurs, external industry and venture capital participants
  • This program is modeled after the successful Coulter Translational Research Awards
  • Industry participation is encouraged in the form of co-funding through a research contract or in-kind contribution to the projects.  Industry partners appreciate the MTRAC synergistic funding as a way to efficiently leverage their funds and/or use of resources
  • Read more about Tier I and II Recipients in the menu sidebar at left

Application Process & Key Dates

TIER I Full Grants

The submission process for Tier I grants is closed. The next round proposal due date will be in the Fall of 2017.

  • Concurrent Starter and Full proposals on the same topic are not allowed--the second proposal of same topic will not be accepted.
  • MSU FACULTY APPLICANTS ONLY: The required e-Transmittal should be sent though the regular process to OSP with an internal sponsor named "MSU-MTRAC."
  • NON-MSU FACULTY APPLICANTS ONLY: Please review the MTRAC template subcontract

Step 1: Download submission information (includes template)

Step 2: Download budget and signature form 

(MSU submissions: Use this form)

Step 3: Review rubric for initial proposal evaluation

Final: Submit your MTRAC application 

For further information or questions regarding the application process, please contact Karen Studer-Rabeler (517.884.1824) or Melanie Adkins (517.884.1659)

Read more about 2015 Tier I recipients and 2016 Tier I recipients

TIER II Starter Grants

The 2017 Tier II Starter Grant Proposal process will begin in August 2017, and will be due September 2017.

  • Concurrent Starter and Full proposals on the same topic are not allowed--the second proposal of same topic will not be accepted.
  • MSU FACULTY APPLICANTS ONLY: The required e-Transmittal should be sent though the regular process to OSP with an internal sponsor named "MSU-MTRAC."
  • NON-MSU FACULTY APPLICANTS ONLY: Please review the MTRAC template subcontract

For RFP proposal forms or questions regarding the application process, please contact Karen Studer-Rabeler (517.884.1824) or Melanie Adkins (517.884.1659)

Read more about 2015 Tier II recipients.

What is Translational Research?

Translational Research (TR) transitions scientific discoveries from the lab to commercial reality. TR is appropriate for significant innovations with commercial potential that are too early in the technical development cycle to be effectively commercialized.

In research there can be a broad gap between successful scientific results and the point at which an innovation is sufficiently developed and de-risked for commercial development.  This is the gap bridged by the MSU MTRAC program.

Contact Information

For more information, please email MSU MTRAC Program Director, Karen Studer-Rabeler (517.884.1824) or Melanie Adkins (517.884.1659).