CERCAGÍNJOL is a patent and intellectual and industrial property protection fund unique in Spain.
Created in 2016, it was initially funded by the CERCA Institute and a one-off contribution from participating centres. In recent years, it has also received contributions from Generalitat de Catalunya ministries.
At present, 23 centres are participating and four more are in the process of joining.
Since its start, GÍNJOL has launched 10 calls for projects and invested more than €780,000.
How it works
The fund is available through competitive calls for projects, usually two a year, open to participating centres. They can submit a maximum of three projects per call and apply for a maximum of €10,000 per project. Projects, which can be shared by more than one centre, may include other organisations not participating in the fund, although the latter do not receive funding.
Assessment is external and carried out by a panel of international experts, who assess each project in relation to four criteria:
The average cut-off score for the proposal to be eligible is over 7.6/10. The assessment group delivers a ranked list of projects that receive funding in order, depending on availability.
Applications can be made for on-going projects, i.e. funding for the same project from new calls, provided proof can be given that the time-to-market (TTM) for the project has advanced by at least one point.
There is no limitation on the TTM for projects, which are usually in the range of TTM2-3 to TTM7-8. Project objectives should include the progress in TTM due to funding.
Eligible costs are those that improve the project TTM, such as patents, extensions, drafts, filing lawsuits, regulatory studies, market studies, utility models, small prototypes or proofs of concept, MVPs, promotion activities, expenses derived from contracts, NDAs, FTOs, innovation due diligence, etc. It also includes actions linked to intellectual property (copyright expenses, trademarks, audiovisuals, etc.). It does not, however, include staff costs of any kind. All expenditure can be outsourced.
What makes the fund unique, besides the funding and management, is the return mechanism. As well as demonstrating their viability, uniqueness and commercialisation route, projects must plan to return the allocated amount with a minimum of an additional 50%. This process is negotiated and may include higher amounts depending on the TTM, commercialisation route, royalties, etc. Currently, only 12 out of 81 funded technologies have been abandoned. In such cases, there is no return on the amount financed.
The return should be planned on revenues from the technology, in the ways agreed on with the centre. Therefore, this does not affect either the researcher or the research group.
The fund received its first returns in 2020 and will only be able to launch further calls with the returns generated from 2023-2024 onwards, thus meeting the initial target.
The mechanism has not only been very well received by the centres, but has also proven its viability in the medium term.