HiPOC Proof of Concept Grants

HiLIFE Proof of Concept (HiPOC) grants are for University of Helsinki life science researchers who want to prepare for the commercialization of their research findings.

Note! You cannot receive HiPOC funding if you have already received UH POC funding or the funding decision is pending from UH POC.

For further information, check grant description and FAQ below, contact hilife-poc@helsinki.fi or join the info session on April 15.

The current HiPOC call will be open until April 30, 2024 at 4pm EEST.

HiPOC Grants are for University of Helsinki life science researchers with a doctorate who are considering submitting an Invention Disclosure (ID) to HIS, or who have already submitted an ID where the IPR belongs to UH. 

The project can have co-applicants within UH and collaborators representing external research organizations, but funding is granted and used within UH for research or to support UH-owned IPR. Co-applicants also need to have a doctorate.

HiPOC grants cannot be used for corporate collaborations.

Note! You cannot receive HiPOC funding if you have already received UH POC funding or the funding decision is pending from UH POC.

Funding is granted in two categories:

  1. Category 1 – Idea Maturation Towards Invention Disclosure (max 30,000€). This funding is used by the grantee and their team to perform experiments and investigate the commercial potential of research findings or a well-structured idea that could be elaborated into an invention. The goal of this funding is for the team to submit an Invention Disclosure after the one-year funding period.
  2. Category 2 - Invention Maturation of a UH-owned IPR (max 50,000€). This funding is used by the grantee and their team to perform Proof-of-Concept (POC) experiments and support commercial activities that further develop an Invention Disclosed where the IPR belongs to UH.

Funding can be used to supplement externally funded projects e.g. from Business Finland R2B program or as host contribution (e.g. 20% seed money) when applying for other sources of Proof-of-Concept funding from outside the UH. Research results obtained with HiPOC funding are owned by UH (i.e. HiPOC projects are defined as contract research) completely or in proportion to the funding HiPOC provides to a larger project based on an agreement.

HiPOC funding can be used for full salary costs (except those of the applicant and co-applicants), equipment (at most 9,999 EUR), reagents, and services. Please also note that about 20% of the funding should be allocated for costs related to the commercialization process. Such part of the funding could be used to, for instance, purchase patentability services from a patent attorney, hire a business consultant (from HIS or elsewhere) to perform market research, or even produce a prototype of your invention. HiPOC funding is not for conferences, travel costs, space/laboratory rental costs or other overhead expenses. Researchers may only have one ongoing HiPOC Grant, and a project can only receive one HiPOC grant from the same category (e.g. a project awarded category 1 funding can apply for consecutive category 2 funding, but cannot reapply for category 1). 

Please find a link to the budget template on the HiPOC page on Flamma under the "Budget" section.

HiPOC funding must be used within 12 months (from August 1, 2024 to July 31, 2025). Funding not used by the end of the project is not transferrable. Currently a maximum of 300,000€ is available for funding HiPOC Grants annually. Researchers can apply for up to 30,000€ if they submit a project without ID (category 1) or up to 50,000€ if they plan on working on a UH-owned IP (category 2).

The current HiPOC call will be open until April 30, 2024 at 4pm EEST.


In addition to the online form, the application is to include a single pdf file with these elements (in order):

1. Project description. Templates for both category 1 and 2 applications are available on the HiPOC page on Flamma under the "How to apply?" section.

2. CV of the applicant and potential co-applicants (max 2 pages each)

3. Possible relevant invention disclosures and/or patent applications

4. Clarification of IP/ownership/collaboration of/within the proposed project including a list and short explanation of possible agreements, and relevant agreements attached. This section is compulsory for Category 2 application. Category 1 applicants should also include this information if available.

On April 15 at 2pm EEST, HiLIFE will host an info session to answer questions from potential applicants regarding the application process described above, as well as the usage of this type of funding. You can find the Zoom link to join the info session on the HiPOC page on Flamma under the "Info session" section.

Review is expected to be completed by the end of June 2024.

Applications are reviewed by members of HIS or other external experts following non-disclosure agreements using the following evaluation criteria:

  1. Impact of future innovation: The project aims to generate economic and societal benefits. The potential of the HiPOC grant to contribute to such values should be clearly understood. 
  2. Clarity and feasibility of the plan: The proposed project plan should be based on sound, achievable and efficient approaches. Documentation should clearly outline how the HiPOC grant will contribute to achieving these goals with the available means. 
  3. Quality of the commercial application: The application is expected to describe a sound business logic with a clear commercial/medical application promoted by the grant.

Please note that, since HIS will be involved in the review process, you are not allowed to ask HIS personnel for prior feedback on your application.

Decisions on grants are informed to the applicants by e-mail by the end of June 2024. Successful applicant will be able to use the HiPOC funding between August 1, 2024 and July 31, 2025. Applicants with granted projects are to provide short reports within 2 months following the end of the project. The reports should be focused on how the HiPOC funding contributed to the filing of invention disclosure or the promoting of the commercial value of a UH-owned IP, and on whether the obtained results attracted external funding.

All HiPOC grantees are expected to join the commercialization workshops that will take place during fall 2024. The time commitment required by each team for these educational activities will be up to six hours.

Is my project too early-stage or too late-stage?

  • Please see where your project stands in terms of two categories that we fund above. Typically, you need to have more than an idea to apply for HiPOC, and we expect the projects to be further down the line.


Can I apply for HiPOC even if I cannot file any patent?

  • Patent potential is not a prerequisite for HiPOC grant. However, it must be possible to protect the innovation via some kind of intellectual property.


Am I eligible for a grant as a PhD student?

  • Unfortunately, according to our rules, the applicant (and potential co-applicants) must have a doctorate at the time when they are applying for a HiPOC grant. However, your supervisor (or collaborator with doctorate and involved in the invention) may apply and use the funding towards your project. 


Can figures and illustrations be included in the research plan and how to count the ‘space’ they take in characters? 

  • You could use figures in your application, and if it's a jpg./png./or similar, they won't be counted towards characters. However, if you write notes or captions to your figure, or if the figure has a title not embedded in the picture, those will be counted. This is similar to how it would work in a journal publication.


I have already registered my company. Will that affect my application for this proof-of-concept grant?

  • There are no rules regarding registered / non-registered companies to apply for HiPOC grant, as long as the IPR belongs to UH and that the funding is also used within UH for research or to support UH-owned IPR. Please note that we cannot pay to perform product development for a company. 


If I apply for this grant, will I need to delay publishing the results that form preliminary data and are required to substantiate the HiPOC application? In other words, do you expect an invention disclosure to HIS prior I could publish elsewhere?

  • We do not have specific instructions towards that, meaning that your choice on publication period should depend on invention disclosure plans. We suggest you read the rules at the HIS website to see if there are any implications regarding publications if you intend to disclose an invention. 


Which parts of the grant will be publicly displayed and which are only seen by the evaluation committee?

  • Check for example this Flamma news to see what information was publicly disclosed in previous rounds.


The main applicant (a person who will apply for the grant) cannot use the grant for her/his salary, but how about the co-applicant? Can the main applicant use the salary for one of the co-applicants?

  • No, the main applicant cannot use the salary for co-applicants.


How are salaries budgeted?

  • In the application, there is no need to provide an extensive budget plan for salaries. However, you should include estimated salary side costs e.g. by using the budget template on the HiPOC Flamma page.


Are references counted towards the character limit in the project description?

  • No they are not.


Is it possible to add a person to the invention disclosure even if she/he is not included in the HiPOC application as a co-applicant at this stage? 

  • Yes, it is not necessary that people listed in HiPOC application are the same at the invention disclosure step.


Can you review my application before submission?

  • We only look at applications after submission, during the evaluation period. Moreover, since HIS will be involved in the review process, you are not allowed to ask HIS personnel for prior feedback on your application.


Should the applicant or the co-applicant be employed by the University of Helsinki?

  • The main applicant should be staff or grant researcher at the UH. Co-applicants may be employed also elsewhere. Note that the funding is to be used within the UH and thus at least one of the applicants must have an employment contract at the UH during the funding period for taking care of the funding-WBS as a project manager, accessing SAP and accepting invoices, etc.


We have the invention disclosure form and the notification of invention disclosure from HIS. Should we include both forms or one of them as attached files?

  • There is no need to attach forms related to invention disclosure. HIS will be evaluating the applications, and they have those forms already.


We already have R2B funding. Are we eligible for application?

  • Yes, you are. We evaluate the maturity of each application separately, and it does not depend on the existing or non-existing R2B funding. However, if the application is clearly linked to an ongoing R2B, it may affect the decision negatively because the applicants already have existing means for POC research and value creation.


Can HiPOC grant be used towards laboratory/infrastructure services provided by UH?

  • Yes, infrastructure services can be covered by HiPOC. Please be also aware that buying services offered at the university from outside the university is not allowed.


Are personal grants for students allowed?


Could the commercialization process costs include registration fees for relevant events, or transport to meet with potential collaborators (equipment providers or clients)? 

  • No, unfortunately the funding cannot cover travel costs.


Could reagents or services costs include transport costs required to perform field tests?

  • Yes, transport costs of reagents and services can be covered. Good to note here that the reagents should not be under MTA, restricting their use for projects to be commercialized.