(1) PURPOSE; GOALS AND OBJECTIVES; CREATION OF PROGRAM.—
(a) The purpose of the Florida Research Commercialization Matching Grant Program is to increase the amount of federal funding to this state which will produce the kind of distinctive technologies that drive today’s knowledge-based economy. By leveraging federal, state, and private sector resources, the Legislature intends that the program accelerate the innovation process and more efficiently transform research results into products in the marketplace.
(b) The matching grant program is specifically intended to be a catalyst for small or startup companies that can take advantage of federal and state grant funding in order to accelerate their growth and market penetration by helping them to overcome the funding gap faced by many small companies that are based in this state. Specific goals and objectives of the program include:
1. Increasing the amount of federal research moneys received by small businesses in this state through Phase I and Phase II awards from the Small Business Innovation Research Program and the Small Business Technology Transfer Program of the Office of Technology of the United States Small Business Administration.
2. Accelerating the entry of new technology-based products into the marketplace.
3. Producing additional technology-based jobs for the state.
4. Providing leveraged resources to increase the effectiveness and success of applicants’ projects.
5. Speeding commercialization of promising technologies.
6. Encouraging the establishment and growth of high-quality, advanced technology firms in the state.
7. Accelerating the rate of investment and enhancing the state’s investment infrastructure.
(c) The Florida Research Commercialization Matching Grant Program is created for the purpose of accomplishing the goals and objectives specified in this section.
(2) ADMINISTRATION.—The Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research shall develop programmatic policy, ensure statewide applicability of the matching grant program, establish criteria for grant awards, approve grant awards, and annually report on program progress and results.
(3) GENERAL ELIGIBILITY GUIDELINES.—A qualified applicant for a Phase I or Phase II grant must:
(a) Be a business entity that is registered with the Secretary of State to operate in this state. The qualified applicant must also have its primary office and a majority of its employees domiciled in this state, and its principal research activities must be conducted in the state.
(b) Be a small company for which a state matching grant is necessary for project development and implementation.
(c) Use federal, local, and private resources to the maximum extent possible. Total project funding shall demonstrate that:
1. Private sector investments offset the total cost of the project.
2. Not more than 25 percent of the project’s total funding is provided by the state grant.
(d) Conduct the project funded by the matching grant program in this state.
(4) PHASE-SPECIFIC APPLICATION GUIDELINES.—
(a) A successful applicant for a grant must meet the requirements of this section and be approved by the institute. An application for a grant must be made on an application form prescribed by the institute. An applicant shall provide all information that the institute finds necessary to make the determinations required by this section.
(b) All applications for a grant fund must include the following:
1. A fully elaborated technical research or business plan, whichever applies, that is appropriate for review by outside experts as provided in this section.
2. A detailed financial analysis that includes the commitment of resources by other entities that will be involved in the project.
3. A statement of the economic development potential of the project, such as:
a. A statement of the way in which grant support will lead to significantly increased funding from federal or private sources and from private sector research partners.
b. A projection of the jobs to be created.
c. The identity, qualifications, and obligations of the applicant.
d. Any other information that the institute considers appropriate.
(c)1. An application for a grant fund submitted by an academic researcher must be made through the office of the president of the researcher’s academic institution with the express endorsement of the institution’s president.
2. An application for a grant submitted by a private researcher must be made through the office of the highest ranking officer of the researcher’s institution with the express endorsement of the institution.
3. Any other application must be made through the office of the highest ranking officer of the entity submitting the application. In the case of an application for a grant that is submitted jointly by one or more researchers or entities, the application must be endorsed by each institution or entity.
(d) A Phase I state grant may not be awarded unless the applicant has received a federal Phase I award. An entity may receive no more than five Phase I state grants.
(e) A qualified applicant for a Phase II state grant must have received an invitation to submit an application for a federal Phase II award or must have received a federal Phase II award. If a federal Phase II award has already been issued, the end date of the federal award must be identified and justification must be provided as to how the state funds will enhance the existing federal award. A Phase II state grant may not be awarded unless the applicant has received a federal Phase II award.
(5) PHASE I PEER REVIEW GUIDELINES.—In making a determination on a proposal intended to obtain Phase I federal funding, the institute shall be advised by a peer review panel and shall consider the following factors in evaluating the proposal:
(a) The scientific merit of the proposal.
(b) The predicted future success of federal funding for the proposal.
(c) The ability of the researcher to attract merit-based scientific funding of research.
(d) The extent to which the proposal evidences interdisciplinary or interinstitutional collaboration among two or more postsecondary educational institutions or private sector partners in this state, as well as cost sharing and partnership support from the business community.
(e) The peer review panel shall be chosen by and report to the institute. In determining the composition and duties of a peer review panel, the institute shall consider the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation peer review processes as models. The members of the panel must have extensive experience in federal research funding. A panel member may not have a relationship with any private entity or postsecondary educational institution in the state that would constitute a conflict of interest for the panel member. The members of a panel shall serve without compensation and are not entitled to per diem and travel expenses while in the performance of their duties.
(f) A grant for a Phase I award may not be approved by the institute unless the proposal has received a positive recommendation from a peer review panel described in this section.
(6) PHASE II REVIEW GUIDELINES.—In making a determination on an application for a Phase II grant, the institute shall consult with experts as necessary to analyze the likelihood of success of the proposal and the relative merit of the proposal.
(7) PROGRAM ADMINISTRATOR; RESPONSIBILITIES.—The Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research shall serve as program administrator. The institute may contract for the performance of a technology review and related functions with a third party. Not more than 5 percent of a legislative appropriation made for the purposes of implementing this program may be used for administering this program. The responsibilities of the institute as the program administrator include, but are not limited to:
(a) Coordinating and supporting the grant review, approval, and contracting activities.
(b) Administering the grant-selection process, including, but not limited to, issuing open-call requests for grant applications and receiving, reviewing, and processing grant applications, and awarding grants to selected qualified applicants.
(c) Entering into a contract with each grant recipient and serving as the grant contract manager.
(d) Reporting program progress and results.
(e) Establishing a mechanism by which information regarding grant projects may be made available to facilitate additional investment by individual investors, investment for early startup costs, or venture capital investment.
(8) APPLICATION REVIEW.—An application for a matching grant award must be reviewed and approved or denied within 45 days after receipt.
(9) AWARDS.—The matching grant program may make a one-time award of up to $50,000 per project for a Phase I grant to a qualified applicant and up to $250,000 per project for a Phase II grant to a qualified applicant. Grant funds shall be released upon completion of all contract requirements.
(10) REPORTING.—Beginning December 1, 2011, and annually thereafter, the institute shall transmit a report relating to the grants awarded under the program to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives for the previous fiscal year.
(11) EXPIRATION.—This section expires July 1, 2013, unless reviewed and reenacted by the Legislature prior to that date.