PSL-Valorisation and Qlife Institute launch a call for Proof-of-Concept projects


Proof of concept, maturation, business creation, technology transfer to the socio-economic world.... The call is open to innovative projects with high socio-economic potential, involving PSL research groups. From natural sciences to medicine, humanities, social sciences, arts & design, all disciplines and application fields are eligible.

Laboration de l'Université PSL © Steve Murez

PSL Valorisation and the Institut Convergences Qlife join forces to support innovative projects with high socio-economic potential.This call is open to any project involving at least one PSL research team, in all disciplines and fields of application.

The call for projects will be cofunded by PSL Valorisation and the Institut de Convergence Qlife, it will mobilize support from the Fonds National de Valorisation (SGPI - ANR), enabling the financing of up to ten projects:

  • Three projects in the field of quantitative biology, supported by Qlife, aiming at the creation of startups (or at partnerships with existing startups)
  • One project involving at least one of the following fields: humanities and social sciences, arts and design,
  • The other funded projects may concern any discipline and involve any mode of technology or knowledge transfer.

Each selected project will receive financial support up to 100k€ (this limit may be increased to 120 k€ for projects with special needs) to cover the costs of human resources, equipment, operations and external services, for a maximal project duration of 18 months (except in special cases). The allocated funding must be used to prepare and / or facilitate the transfer of knowledge, results or inventions from the research groups involved, in order to foster economic and / or societal impact.

The funding is destined for technical or market proofs of concept, or legal studies (intellectual property, regulations). It may cover staff costs, equipment (whatever the depreciation period), operating costs (including travel and consumables), and external contracting, corresponding to technical services by one or more providers (public or private), expenses for marketing studies, specialized coaching (business, legal, etc.), training, or intellectual property costs (patentability study, freedom to operate, etc.).

This new call for PoC projects is in line with the previous ones launched in 2018 and 2019, which enabled the launching of 19 high-level interdisciplinary projects in fields ranging from the treatment of epilepsy to energy storage, including the design of dynamically deformable furniture or objects, the development of magnetic bacteria as well as ruthenium complexes as photosensitizers for photodynamic therapy.

Selection process

The evaluation process will be supervised by PSL Valorisation, in coordination with the Qlife Steering Committee.

The Selection Committee will comprise independent experts, as well as a member of the Qlife Steering Committee. Each application will be evaluated by 2 independent specialists in the relevant field, whose reports will be forwarded to the Selection Committee. The members of the Selection Committee and the evaluators will sign a statement of confidentiality.

The following evaluation criteria will be taken into account:

  • Scientific and technological quality (if applicable) : Existing results, publications, scientific environment
  • Innovative character and added value compared to the state of the art: State of the art description, comparison of the solution with possible alternatives
  • Socio-economic impact, transfer potential, identified markets: Innovation and transfer approach; preliminary vision of applications, users and markets; foreseen process for the definition of a business model, for contacts with users and for market identification
  • Technical and economic feasibility (resources, calendar, environment, partnerships): Key steps, milestones, deliverables; adequacy of resources and timeline; risk management

Provisional calendar:

  • February 27, 2020: Publication of the call for projects.
  • March 31, 2020: Information meeting on the call, intended for all researchers and tech transfer staff within PSL. Starting 2.30 p.m.
  • April 8, 2020: Information meeting on the call. Starting 10.30 a.m.
  • April 21, 2020: Deadline for sending a non-confidential summary and a list of three experts for project evaluation.
  • 05 May 2020: Deadline for submitting applications.
  • May-June 2020: Evaluation of projects.
  • July 2020: Announcement of the results.

Applications must be submitted by email to, by sending two files (in Word and PDF formats), using the provided template, available from any technology transfer officers of PSL (establishments and organizations) as well as from the PSL Valorisation team.
Please contact the technology transfer service of your establishment or PSL Valorisation for further information.

feder psl qlife

For further information and questions about this call for projects

Due to the health situation, the planned presentation meetings are cancelled and are replaced by presentations via the internet :

  • On Tuesday, March 31 starting 2.30 p.m.
  • On Wednesday, April 8 staring 10.30 a.m.


What are the reporting obligations for funded projects ? How many reports are required during the course of a project?

An activity report is required at the end of the project, along with some financial reports (depending on the payment schedule).

Is the funding managed by PSL or by the host institution of the project leader?

PSL will transfer the funding to the host institution or to one of the supervising institutions (“tutelles”) of the leading research team. This institution will manage the funds. The institution who validated the project proposal is usually chosen for the management of the funds. The other supervising institutions may sign the funding contract depending on the agreements governing the research unit. If needed, consultation involving all the supervising institutions and stakeholders will be held when preparing the funding agreement, to discuss all relevant issues, notably any pre-existing intellectual property linked to the project.

Can the project be funded by the call if a startup already exists?

Yes. The start-up company can be a partner of the project but the funding will go to the research team presenting the project and to the other PSL research teams involved, if any. The funding cannot be granted to the start-up company. However the funding agreement may mention the intention of the stakeholders to transfer exploitation rights on the project results to the startup company.

Will the more profitable projects be funded in priority?

No. The socio-economic impact is a major criterion but the short-term profit is not, nor the financial return for PSL. Non-profit projects can be funded.

Will the high-risk projects be disadvantaged?

The selection committee will evaluate the risk and potential impact of the projects as well as their feasibility. The high-risk/high gain projects will not be disadvantaged, on the contrary.

Can the same project leader submit two different projects?


Does PSL charge management fees?

PSL does not charge any management fees, the funding is allocated to one of the supervising institution (“tutelle”) in charge of the research team. This Institution can claim management fees, within the limit of 3% of the funding. For the projects funded by Qlife, management fees are limited to 2,5% and are added to the allocated funding.

What is the level of maturity required for the projects? In particular for the transfer and market aspects.

Projects applying to this call are expected to be early stage, and thus not to have achieved an advanced maturity level both in terms of technology readiness and of transfer to the socio-economic world. However, they have to be based on a preliminary proof of concept, and describe the remaining technological issues to be addressed during the course of the project. Applicants must give an overview of the envisioned applications, targeted users and associated markets. They must describe the valorisation model they envisage, and the process they will follow to develop a more precise vision of the market, a value proposition and a business model. The innovative aspects, the added value compared to competing technologies or existing offers and the associated intellectual property, if any, will be major evaluation criteria.

Are Low TRL projects (1-2) eligible?

There is no prerequisite in terms of TRL. Typically, projects applying to this call would have a TRL of 3 and would aim to reach a TRL of 5 at the end of the funding period, but this is only indicative. The most important criterion is that the configuration of the project and its level of advancement be compatible with a credible approach of the transfer/market aspects and enable progress on these issues. If the R&D program absorbs the majority of the resources and/or the technological uncertainties make contacts with users end potential partners too difficult, the project will likely be found unconvincing, even if its scientific quality is excellent.

Must candidate projects be based on pre-existing patents?

No. Prematuration projects based on a recently filed patent are quite common, but other scenarios are also valid: projects based on software, on know-how, and/or aiming at developing intellectual property (patent or other) at a later stage. Projects based on a market need and aiming at developing or aggregating technological components will not be disadvantaged, on the contrary.

Are market studies or intellectual property studies a prerequisite to apply?

No. Such studies can be a good point for the application and should be mentioned if they exist but are not a prerequisite.

How will the induced intellectual property be transferred?

The funded projects will be supported by one of the TTOs of PSL (PSL Valorisation or the valorisation department of a member institution). If the team developing the project has already established contacts with a TTO, continuity will be favored.
The management and the valorisation of the project results, and of pre-existing intellectual property, if any, will aim at facilitating their transfer (to a start-up or to another industrial partner), at maximising socio-economic impact and at ensuring an appropriate financial return to the stakeholders and to PSL.


Will all applications be evaluated?

All eligible applications will be evaluated, as far as possible, i.e. provided that the number of applications is compatible with the reviewing process.

Will the project leaders of the non-funded projects receive comments on their evaluation?

Yes, as in 2018 and 2019, a summary of the evaluation will be sent to the project leader. For additional information, the project leaders may ask for the full reports of the experts (anonymized).