MCubed is a new seed-funding program developed at the University of Michigan to stimulate and support innovative research. The program grew out of the IdeaWorks project in the College of Engineering and is part of the University’s Third Century Initiative.
A cube is a funded project with three investigators. Investigators create projects and invite collaborators to join them. A project that has three tokens associated with it is ready to cube. The owner can then decide to cube the project. Once a cube is formed, the investigators cannot be changed.
Investigators can create project descriptions, search for collaborators and projects, and obtain research funding for their cubes on the MCubed website.
The definition of an independent researcher varies from unit to unit. Please check with your unit contact for the definition that applies to your unit.
For MCubed, a unit is a school, college, or LSA division (Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and Humanities).
As long as the project is new, innovative research, that is fine.
Yes. The restriction is that the three investigators cannot be working on a project together that already has external funding.
Each independent UM researcher – as defined by the units – will receive only one token, regardless of how many programs or units they are associated with.
No, for the two-year period, you will receive only one token.
In many units, more tokens are distributed than can be funded. Also, the total number of tokens distributed in all the units across campus exceeds the total that is currently committed to be funded for the program; i.e., 750. Thus, the program may reach capacity in the first year.
Yes, as long as the owner of the project invites you to join, you can join the project.
Yes. You decide what to do with your token. If you like a project and want to make sure it goes forward, you can commit your token to the project so it can cube. Make sure you communicate with the owner so that he or she knows your intention; i.e., so the other members of the cube are not counting on your active participation.
No, you can only place your token on one project.
Investigators can create as many projects as they want. However, each investigator can only participate in one cube.
To join a project that you didn’t create, you must be invited to place your token on that project.
Yes, as long as the work is a new for the three researchers and you are not currently on an external grant together.
Yes. If you need, say, 5 graduate students and 5 postdocs to work on your project, you need to assemble a team of 30 investigators. Note that for each cube, you still need to have investigators from at least two different units.
No, you need to have at least one participant in each cube that is from a different unit. Although you can have two investigators from the same unit or department, MCubed does not fund interdisciplinary projects that contain investigators all in the same department or unit.
Once you have created a project description on the web and have two additional investigators that have joined your project, you are ready to cube. There will be instructions on the website that will guide you through the process.
Yes, the MCubed website is the only way you can receive funding for your cube.
No, this is one of the unique aspects of the program. Essentially, by the three investigators reviewing the project and agreeing to use their one token on the project, they have performed the peer review through their actions. There will be administrative checks to make sure that the requirements of the program are being met, but there will not be a review of the projects themselves prior to funding.
No. While it is true that some of these projects could be completed without the use of students and postdocs, this program does not support that type of arrangement.
Yes, that is the maximum (15% of $60,000 = $9,000) you can spend on things other than student/postdoc salaries.
Yes. However it is important to document items that are to be shared with others and the conditions of use. It may be necessary to have a Confidentiality Agreement completed to protect your research results or intellectual property. In order to obtain help for a Confidentiality Agreement, if you are sharing information for (a) a sponsored project, generally ORSP will help you or (b) purposes related to tech transfer, generally the Office of Tech Transfer will help you.
Yes, but since patent rights are affected by these activities, it is best to submit an Invention Report to Tech Transfer well before communicating or disclosing your invention to people outside the U-M community. There are significant differences between the U.S. and other countries as to how early publication affects a potential patent. Once publicly disclosed (published or presented in some form), an invention may have a restricted or minimal potential for patent protection outside of the United States. Be sure to inform the Tech Transfer licensing specialist assigned to you of any imminent or prior presentation, lecture, poster, abstract, website description, research proposal submission, dissertation/masters thesis, publication, or other public presentation describing the invention. If you have not worked with Tech Transfer before, you can email Director of Licensing Robin Rasor at email@example.com.
The patent law on this issue will be replaced with new laws beginning in 2013, so it is not possible to provide a certain answer as to whether such disclosures will prevent you from obtaining a patent on your invention. However, in general, disclosures to those outside of the University may be considered public disclosures as set forth below. The more detailed your disclosure the higher the risk that such disclosure will be considered a full disclosure of your invention; by “dumbing down” your disclosure (i.e. disclosing the resolution of a problem without disclosing how it is accomplished), your risks are greatly reduced. If you are unsure or have any questions, contact U-M Tech Transfer and file an Invention Report.
It depends on your contribution to the invention. Under U.S. law, an inventor is a person who takes part in the conception of the ideas in the patent claims of a patent application. Inventorship of a patent application may change as the patent claims are changed during the patenting process.
Further, merely suggesting alternative considerations or improvements to an invention without the means for accomplishing such suggestions or improvements may not rise to level of contribution as an inventor.
Inventorship may require an intricate legal determination by the patent attorney working the application.
A Sponsored Research Agreement will specify the intellectual property (IP) rights of the sponsor. The University generally retains ownership of patent rights and other intellectual property resulting from sponsored research. However, the sponsor may have rights to obtain a license to the IP resulting from the research. The sponsor generally will not have contractual rights to discoveries that are clearly outside of the scope of the research or that were invented prior to the research contract ("Background IP"). Therefore, it is important to define the scope of work within a research agreement and to review the IP provisions in the research contract.
Sponsored research projects are handled by ORSP. ORSP project representatives work closely with U-M Tech Transfer on IP issues in sponsored research agreements. If you have questions about sponsored research, please contact the ORSP project representative responsible for the sponsor.
An Invention Report (IR) is a written description of your invention or development that is provided to U-M Tech Transfer. The IR should list all collaborating sources of support and include all of the information necessary to begin pursuing protection, marketing, and commercialization activities.
This document will be treated as “University Confidential.” Based on the Invention Report, U-M Tech Transfer may generate a non-confidential description of your invention in order to assist in marketing the technology. Once potential partners have been identified, and confidentiality agreements have been signed, more detailed exchanges of information can be made.
When you disclose your invention to U-M Tech Transfer, it starts a process that could lead to the protection and commercialization of your technology. This may involve beginning the legal protection process and working to identify outside development partners. If government funds were used for your research, you are required to file a prompt disclosure, which UM-Tech Transfer will report to the sponsoring agency. Similar requirements may exist for other sponsored projects.
You are encouraged to submit an Invention Report for all inventions and developments that you feel may solve a significant problem and/or have significant value. If you are in doubt, contact U-M Tech Transfer to discuss the invention and strategies for commercialization.
You should complete an Invention Report whenever you feel you have discovered something unique with possible commercial value. This should be done well before presenting the discovery through publications, poster sessions, conferences, press releases, or other communications. Once publicly disclosed (i.e., published or presented in some form), an invention may have restricted or minimal potential for patent protection outside of the United States. Differences exist between the U.S. and other countries on the impact of early publication on a potential patent. Be sure to inform U-M Tech Transfer of any imminent or prior presentation, lecture, poster, abstract, website description, research proposal, dissertation/masters thesis, publication, or other public presentation including the invention.
You can download a report form and simple instructions from http://www.techtransfer.umich.edu/forms/forms.html. Invention Reports are assigned weekly to a U-M Tech Transfer licensing specialist. If you have any questions, call U-M Tech Transfer at 734.763.0614 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.