What is GÍNJOL?
GÍNJOL is a Funding programme agreed between I-CERCA and those CERCA centres that enter the partnership. It was set up as additional financing and to close potential gaps in funding for knowledge transfer by CERCA centres.
It is financed from I-CERCA’s initial contribution for 2016 of 60,000 euros, plus the contributions from of the CERCA partner centres, any returns generated, and any other public or private funding that may be procured. I-CERCA will contribute a minimum of 60,000 euros in 2017.
The aim of GÍNJOL is to fund the services needed to protect, exploit and market the results of research generated by the research projects submitted by the partner centres.
The projects that receive funding are selected on a competitive basis, using objective criteria, from the proposals submitted, which are assessed and ranked by an Assessment Committee.
The first Patent Fund round was announced in November 2016. The second round will begin on 15 February 2017 and a third round is planned for September 2017.
Is GÍNJOL funding classified as a grant?
No. It is a form of funding agreed between I-CERCA and the CERCA partner centres that is expected to generate a return and may not therefore be considered to be free funding such as a grant. The projects are selected and ranked on a competitive basis from the proposal submitted.
How does GÍNJOL work?
The CERCA Institute (I-CERCA) is responsible for managing the resources of the GÍNJOL programme. In 2016 it will make a minimum contribution of 60,000 euros. I-CERCA will contribute a minimum of 60,000 euros in 2017. The contributions to future funding rounds are yet to be determined.
Partner centres are those CERCA centres that wish to participate. In order to participate, they must contribute a start-up amount, which will be a one-off contribution and will give the partner access to every round of the Patent Fund. Centres wishing to become partner centres must make a one-off contribution which has been set at 12,000 euros for the second funding round. This one-off amount will be higher in later funding rounds.
The activities and financing of the Patent Fund will be supervised by a management committee with representatives from I-CERCA and the partner centres.
The Assessment committee will be composed of between four and seven key people from the world of knowledge transfer in all areas of research.
I-CERCA will be responsible for following up the individual projects funded.
I-CERCA intends that the GÍNJOL Programme will become available to ALL CERCA centres, whether they are partners or not. When each funding round is announced, it will be specified whether or not non-partner centres may submit proposals. If this is the case, the terms applicable to returns will be much stricter and the expected returns will be much higher than for partner centres.
How does the Patent Fund work?
It may be funded any activity and expense related to intellectual and/or industrial property generated from the research activities of CERCA centres. For example, expenses related to drafting patents, PCT, EPO or other agencies’ processing fees, international extension costs, SoA (state-of-the-art) reports and/or FTO (freedom to operate) reports, the acquisition of software to exploit or manage a technology portfolio, marketing activities, litigation expenses (infringement), the purchase of licences, protecting software, other types of industrial and/or intellectual property, drafting and managing trade secrets, any procedure related to knowledge and/or technology transfer, etc.
Partner centres (and non-partner centres, if permitted in the specific funding round) must submit an ad hoc form.
Projects coordinated by a number of centres can be submitted, but the proposal must be submitted separately by each centre. The total amount to be funded may not exceed 10,000 euros.
A non-partner CERCA centre can submit proposals if permitted in the specific funding round.
A centre can submit more than one proposal, if permitted in the specific funding round.
The proposal submitted will be scored by an Assessment Committee which will rank them and decide the cut-off point for those to be funded. If there are sufficient resources all the projects above the cut-off point will be funded. If not, the projects will be funded in accordance with their ranking. Those scoring below the cut-off point will receive no funding.
Each project to be funded requires the signing of a specific agreement between I-CERCA and the applicant, setting out all the terms and required returns.
I-CERCA will be responsible for following up all the projects and taking any decisions required.
All persons involved in the management, monitoring and assessment of projects will be bound by the strictest duties of confidentiality and prevention of conflict of interest.
Under no circumstances will I-CERCA acquire ownership rights in the intellectual property resulting from the submitted projects.
What are the assessment criteria?
For this funding round they are:
- Disruptive scientific potential (35%)
- Timeliness and uniqueness of the project (15%)
- Financial viability (40%)
- Appropriate timeline for implementation (10%)
Regardless of whether the proposal is ranked above or below the cut-off point, a summary of the assessors comments and the scores awarded will be issued for all projects, together with notes and recommendations. The names and affiliations of the assessors will not be released under any circumstances, and no additional explanations may be requested.
Not all the projects submitted will receive funding. Only those that score higher than the cut-off point set by the assessors. If not enough funds are available, the highest scoring projects will be funded first, working down the list in strict order.
The Assessment Committee’s members are recognised professionals with experience of knowledge transfer, covering as many fields as possible. The mechanism established is that of peer review by three members, plus, at I-CERCA’s discretion, a fourth member in the event of diverging scores or commentaries. There will be no consensus meeting. Under no circumstances will their names be published.
The assessors will sign a document declaring they have no conflicts of interest, neither ex-ante (2 years) or ex-post (5 years) in their roles as assessors, and will observe the strictest code of confidentiality.
Expected returns
Returns formula should be determined and included with each proposal. The formula may be freely selected and may include royalties, a fixed fee, mixed systems, etc. Other aspects which may be considered include early repayment, risk and venture funding, etc.
For guidance, it is expected that the funding awarded plus at least 50% will be recovered over an average of three years and a maximum of five years.
Although the maximum expected period of repayment will be five years, this maximum period is not obligatory and may be adapted according to the nature of each project. As the expected returns will be the Patent Fund’s main source of refinancing, the shorter the period the better, without ruling out higher returns on longer-term investments.
The proposal should address the possibility of failure or other contingencies. This is an aspect which the assessors and, in general, the Patent Fund, will view positively. A commitment to partially repay the funds if the project does not achieve its aims within a certain time is as useful as a high return over the long term but with higher risks. It is recommended that at least some consideration is given to the possibility of failure and other contingencies and appropriate proposals made.
Project follow-up
Every active project will be followed up individually every year in June. The project managers must prepare two documents:
a) A certificate of allocated expenses issued by centre management, with a short report detailing the expenses, any co-funding, other expenses, etc., and the balance to be contributed by the fund and the execution thereof.
b) Project follow-up document: Breakdown of planned/performed actions, any changes or proposed changes, and contingencies. The returns mechanism, including amounts, payment dates, etc., may be changed. Any such changes must be explained in sufficient detail.
The meeting will be executive: The documents must be delivered at least one week prior to the supervisory meeting. Any changes will be discussed and negotiated at this meeting and, if both parties accept them, the parties will sign a follow-up protocol. The individual agreement will be governed by these new terms from that date until the next follow-up meeting.
The I-CERCA Institute will perform the follow-up with the project’s technical manager.
The proposed returns can be changed. This can be requested at the annual follow-up meeting or, if a substantial change occurs to the project, or the agreement has to be cancelled or the funds repaid early, the Centre may make a request at any time. This mechanism should only be used in exceptional circumstances and when it is necessary to repay the funding in full (due to the receipt of an upfront payment, the creation of a spin-off, to eliminate a financial liability prior to the entry of an investor, etc.).
To start paying returns depends on the TRL of each project. Projects with a low TRL should start paying returns in 5 to 7 years. Projects with a TRL higher than 6 should start paying returns in 2 to 3 years.
We are aware that there is an element of risk involved in managing and commercialising intellectual property. The annual follow-up meetings will allow us to detect if it is not possible to repay the funds and take joint action. The ‘extra’ high returns expected from these projects should offset these cases.