This information is subject to change due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and any resulting restrictions.
Due to exceptional circumstances, the deadline for applications for The Spinoff Prize has been extended to 14th December 2020 23:59 GMT. This is a firm deadline and there will be no further extension.
Q: When can I apply?
Applications open on 10th August 2020.
Q: Will you accept applications after the deadline?
No. We are unable to accept late applications. The application portal will close and will not accept any applications after 14th December 2020 23:59pm GMT.
Q: Does the applicant need to be an employee of the spinoff?
Q: What exactly do you mean by a spinoff? Are spinouts and startups also eligible?
We appreciate that different terminology is used in different countries to describe companies that are created involving university/research institute staff and students. We define a spinoff as a company that has been formed specifically to commercialise the outputs generated from research conducted at a university or research institute. The spinoff must have been registered as a separate legal entity on or after 10th August 2017. In the application you will have to clearly demonstrate how the underpinning research led to findings which are subsequently being commercialised. Companies that have been formed by staff or students based on ideas that are not as a result of the specific outputs of research are not eligible. Corporate spinoffs are also not eligible.
Q: Must the spinoff already have launched a product or service?
No. Some spinoffs might have achieved this, but we expect that many will still be in development. The spinoff must have been registered as a separate legal entity on or after 10th August 2017.
Q: Does it matter who owned/owns the intellectual property originating from the underpinning research?
No. In some countries the university/research institution will own the intellectual property, in others it will be the inventors of the intellectual property. The key criterion is that the research was conducted within a university or research institute and a company was formed in order to commercially exploit the research outputs and any associated intellectual property.
Q: Does the underpinning research have to be 100% funded by government/public funds?
No. Any type of research funding could have supported the research including that from government, charities and the private sector.
Q: Why is University or research institution confirmation of eligibility required in order to submit an application?
This is to confirm that the spinoff is eligible to apply i.e. was established to commercialise research conducted at a university or research institute and was formed on or after 10th August 2017.
In the application form you will be asked to provide the contact details for a senior member of the Technology Transfer Office or equivalent, or if no such office exists, a senior office holder from the institution within the university or research institute from which the underpinning research originated. They may be contacted by email to confirm the eligibility of the application.
Q. Can I write more than the word limits?
No. The application portal restricts the length of the answer to the word limit and cannot be extended.
Q. Will I receive any feedback on my application?
Unfortunately, we cannot provide individual feedback on applications.
Q: When will I know if my application has been selected?
Firstly, we will select a set of spinoffs that we call the longlist ‘ones to watch’. This longlist will be presented in a special report published in Nature. Longlisted applicants will be informed under embargo in April 2021 and announced by early July 2021. In addition, a smaller number of spinoffs, called the shortlist, will also be profiled in Nature and will be invited to take part in a virtual slam. Four successful finalists will be invited to pitch at the live public slam competition at the Curious 2021 – Future Insight Conference, 12th-14th July 2021 (subject to the exigencies of the global pandemic), where they will compete for the overall prize. Shortlisted applicants will be informed under embargo in April 2021 and announced by early July 2021.
Q: What exactly is the slam competition?
This is a competitive event where representatives of the shortlisted spinoffs will pitch virtually to a panel of judges and answer questions and four successful finalists will pitch again in the slam as part of Curious 2021 – Future Insight Conference, 12th-14th July 2021. The panel will then select a winner.
Q: Will travel and accommodation costs be reimbursed for shortlisted candidates attending the slam competition as part of Curious 2021 – Future Insight Conference, 12th-14th July 2021?
Nature Research will reimburse reasonable travel expenses of up to €1250**.
Q: Will the competition organisers help shortlisted candidates secure any necessary visas or travel documentation to attend the competition?
Shortlisted candidates will be responsible for securing the necessary travel documentation including visas. We will provide a letter of invitation to attend the slam competition**.
Q: What happens if for whatever reason I am unable to participate in the slam competition?
If the applicant is shortlisted but is no longer able to attend, a representative of the spinoff may attend instead. They can either be an employee of the spinoff, a member of the Board of Directors, a member of an Advisory Board, or a member of the university or research institutes Technology Transfer Office or equivalent.
Q: Are there any restrictions on what the prize money can be used for?
The prize money must be transferred to a bank account in the legal name of the spinoff. Prize money must be invested in research and development, with the ultimate goal of advancing science to make a positive impact on society.
Q: Do I have to report on what the prize money was used for?
Nature Research and Merck support the Sunshine Act and other initiatives that promote transparency in relationships with healthcare providers and are committed to meeting all transparency reporting requirements, including Open Payments. We are likewise committed to meeting similar state laws enacted by state authorities to require transparency reporting about payments and other transfers of value made to relevant healthcare providers. We may therefore require reporting actions from the eventual winner consistent with such legal requirements. The overall winner will be expected to give a short presentation at a virtual meeting with Merck and Nature to outline how the prize money was used.
Nature may contact all longlisted and shortlisted spinoffs after the competition in order to find out what progress the spinoffs have made and what impact participating in the competition has had.
Q: I want to nominate a spinoff. What do I do?
If you are a senior member of the Technology Transfer Office or equivalent, or if no such office exists, a senior office holder, you can contact the spinoff to make them aware of the award programme and direct them to the application form. They will need to indicate in the form that you confirm the eligibility of the application and we recommend you review their application. You may also recommend them here.
Q: Who can I contact for more information?
Please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you require any further information.
** subject to feasibility in the context of the COVID-19 global pandemic.