PSL-Valorisation and Qlife Institute launch a call for Proof-of-Concept projects


Proof of concept, maturation, business creation, technology transfer to the socio-economic world.... The call is open to innovative projects with high socio-economic potential, involving PSL research groups. From natural sciences to medicine, humanities, social sciences, arts & design, all disciplines and application fields are eligible.

Laboration de l'Université PSL © Steve Murez

PSL Valorisation and the Institut Convergences Qlife join forces to support innovative projects with high socio-economic potential.This call is open to any project involving at least one PSL research team, in all disciplines and fields of application.

The call for projects will be cofunded by PSL Valorisation and the Institut de Convergence Qlife, it will mobilize support from the Fonds National de Valorisation (SGPI - ANR), enabling the financing of up to ten projects:

  • Three projects in the field of quantitative biology, supported by Qlife, aiming at the creation of startups (or at partnerships with existing startups)
  • One project involving at least one of the following fields: humanities and social sciences, arts and design,
  • The other funded projects may concern any discipline and involve any mode of technology or knowledge transfer.

Each selected project will receive financial support up to 100k€ (this limit may be increased to 120 k€ for projects with special needs) to cover the costs of human resources, equipment, operations and external services, for a maximal project duration of 18 months (except in special cases). The allocated funding must be used to prepare and / or facilitate the transfer of knowledge, results or inventions from the research groups involved, in order to foster economic and / or societal impact.

The funding is destined for technical or market proofs of concept, or legal studies (intellectual property, regulations). It may cover staff costs, equipment (whatever the depreciation period), operating costs (including travel and consumables), and external contracting, corresponding to technical services by one or more providers (public or private), expenses for marketing studies, specialized coaching (business, legal, etc.), training, or intellectual property costs (patentability study, freedom to operate, etc.).

This new call for PoC projects is in line with the previous ones launched in 2018 and 2019, which enabled the launching of 19 high-level interdisciplinary projects in fields ranging from the treatment of epilepsy to energy storage, including the design of dynamically deformable furniture or objects, the development of magnetic bacteria as well as ruthenium complexes as photosensitizers for photodynamic therapy.

 Laureates of the 2019 proof-of-concept call

Selection process

The evaluation process will be supervised by PSL Valorisation, in coordination with the Qlife Steering Committee.

The Selection Committee will comprise independent experts, as well as a member of the Qlife Steering Committee. Each application will be evaluated by 2 independent specialists in the relevant field, whose reports will be forwarded to the Selection Committee. The members of the Selection Committee and the evaluators will sign a statement of confidentiality.

The following evaluation criteria will be taken into account:

  • Scientific and technological quality (if applicable) : Existing results, publications, scientific environment
  • Innovative character and added value compared to the state of the art: State of the art description, comparison of the solution with possible alternatives
  • Socio-economic impact, transfer potential, identified markets: Innovation and transfer approach; preliminary vision of applications, users and markets; foreseen process for the definition of a business model, for contacts with users and for market identification
  • Technical and economic feasibility (resources, calendar, environment, partnerships): Key steps, milestones, deliverables; adequacy of resources and timeline; risk management

Provisional calendar:

  • February 27, 2020: Publication of the call for projects.
  • March 31, 2020: Information meeting on the call, intended for all researchers and tech transfer staff within PSL. Starting 2.30 p.m.
  • April 8, 2020: Information meeting on the call. Starting 10.30 a.m.
  • April 21, 2020: Deadline for sending a non-confidential summary and a list of three experts for project evaluation.
  • 05 May 2020: Deadline for submitting applications.
  • May-June 2020: Evaluation of projects.
  • July 2020: Announcement of the results.

Applications must be submitted by email to, by sending two files (in Word and PDF formats), using the provided template, available from any technology transfer officers of PSL (establishments and organizations) as well as from the PSL Valorisation team.
Please contact the technology transfer service of your establishment or PSL Valorisation for further information and to inform us of your application.

feder psl qlife

For further information and questions about this call for projects

Due to the health situation, the planned presentation meetings are cancelled and are replaced by presentations via the internet :

  • On Tuesday, March 31 starting 2.30 p.m.
  • On Wednesday, April 8 staring 10.30 a.m.


Will the non-confidential summary requested in advance of the application be used for pre-selection?

The non-confidential summary will not be used for pre-selection. It is intended for the information of the experts, to confirm that they agree to evaluate the project

What is the minimum font size to complete the file (font, size,...)?

With regard to the limits and indications of the number of pages indicated, the minimum expected font size is Arial 11 or equivalent.

Is the project eligible if the project leader is a doctor who graduated from a PSL Institution but is no longer attached to the Institution?

The official project leader must have a formal link with a PSL laboratory at the time of the application; the young doctor may be involved in the project afterwards. 

Must the project leader have a permanent position at PSL? What about a postdoc whose current funding ends in May and who wishes to be the project leader?

A non-permanent researcher can be the project leader.  If the director of the unit signs the application form, then it is implicit that the candidate will be able to be employed by the institution during the project, thanks to the funding granted. 

Can a same project leader submit two projects?


Is it possible for a same project leader to apply more than once?

It is possible for a candidate to apply even if he or she has already been a laureate in a previous edition. It is also possible for a project leader to submit several applications for different projects during the same call for projects.

What are the criteria that define eligibility for Qlife / quantitative biology funding?

These criteria are quite broad (PAA description), but applicants are not obliged to specify if they consider their project to be in the field of quantitative biology, the selection committee will decide this. In addition, a life science project that would not be considered as quantitative can be funded on the FNV part of the call.

Can a researcher employed by the EPHE but assigned to a unit outside the PSL perimeter, for which the EPHE is not responsible, submit a project?

Yes, such a project is eligible 

Is the pre-maturation money managed by PSL or by the institution hosting the project leader?

PSL pays the funding to one of the guardians of the main research team, who is the manager of the agreement and funding; it is usually the one who validated the application file. The other supervisors may or may not be signatories to the agreement, depending on the mandates or agreements in force for the unit. A consultation between the supervisors and other stakeholders takes place at the time of the agreement, as necessary and in particular in relation to pre-existing intellectual property, if any.

If a start-up already exists, can a project be financed by the pre-maturation call?

The start-up can be a partner in the project, but the funding is intended for the project leader's team and the other SLP teams involved, if any; it cannot be paid to the start-up. On the other hand, the financing agreement may indicate that the stakeholders wish to grant the start-up exploitation rights on the project results.

Can the exploitation of the results of the project be carried out through a technology transfer to an PME or start-up located in the European Union but not on French territory?

Yes, the valorisation of the results can be carried out by a technology transfer to a company whatever its location.

Will the most financially profitable projects be given priority?

No, the impact on the economic and/or societal level is a major criterion, but not the short-term profitability, nor the financial return for PSL. Projects of an associative and/or non-profit nature can be financed.

Are projects that are too risky disadvantaged?

The Selection Committee will evaluate the risk and the potential impact of the projects, as well as their feasibility; high-risk / high-impact projects are not disadvantaged, on the contrary.

PSL management fees?

PSL does not take management fees; the funding is paid to one of the laboratory's supervisors, who can take management fees up to a maximum of 3% (except for projects funded by Qlife, for which this maximum is set at 2.5%).

What is the level of maturity expected of the projects, especially for the transfer/marketing aspects?

The projects expected at the pre-maturation stage are upstream (or early stage) projects, and therefore have not yet reached a high degree of completion and detail in terms of both technological maturity and transfer/market approach. They must nevertheless be based on a preliminary proof of concept, indicating the last technological locks to be lifted, and/or validations. technologies expected during the project. Applicants should also ensure that they provide an overview, even if only a summary, of the applications envisaged and the associated users and markets. They will describe the possible mode(s) of transfer, and the planned process for developing a more complete market vision, value proposition and business model. The innovative character and added value of the proposed solutions compared to competing alternatives, and where appropriate the associated intellectual property issues, will be important evaluation criteria. 

Are low (1-2) TRL projects eligible?

There are no prerequisites in terms of TRL; typically projects expected in a pre-mature call would be at around TRL 3, and would aim to reach TRL 5 by the end of the project, but these figures are indicative only. The most important criterion is that the progress of the project and its configuration allow a credible approach to the transfer and market approach aspects. If the R&D programme absorbs almost all the resources and/or the technological uncertainties make contacts with potential users or partners too difficult, the project will probably be judged unconvincing from this point of view, even though its scientific level would be excellent.

Should candidate projects be based on pre-existing patents?

No, the pre-maturation process of a recently filed patent application is quite common, but other configurations are quite legitimate: project based on software, know-how, and/or aiming at developing IP later on in the form of a patent or other. Projects based on an application linked to a market need, and aiming at developing or aggregating the necessary technological building blocks are encouraged, as long as they demonstrate a potential impact.

If during the project there is a strengthening of a pre-existing patent thanks to early stage financing, does PSL acquire a co-ownership share in the existing patent or in the patents for improvements?

First, the pre-existence of a patent is not a prerequisite for the project to be financed. The financing of this project has no impact on the existing IP, but the pre-existence agreement provides that PSL owns rights on the results of the project and therefore on potential patents for improvements. 

What are the rules for sharing the intellectual property of projects financed by QLife with regard to IP sharing that are not usually practiced by PSL?

Under QLife, the consortium agreement does not define a general rule for sharing intellectual property. The question will be examined on a case-by-case basis depending on the project.

Is market research and/or intellectual property research a prerequisite for applications?

No, such studies may be a plus for the application, and should be mentioned if they exist, but they are by no means a prerequisite. 

Could you clarify what is meant by "business model"?

It is not a business plan or detailed financial projections, but rather a qualitative description of what will enable the development and impact of the project: possible application(s), users of the proposed solution, products or services provided, method of remuneration of the start-up or licensee company, etc.

What is the difference between "field of application" and "economic sector" requested in the application file?

The project's field of application is the area of use or application, whereas the economic sector is the type of industry activity that may be interested in the project. For example, for a project of encapsulation of a molecule, its field of application is encapsulation, whereas its economic sector can be health, cosmetics, etc.

In the file, the opinion of the head of establishment and the director of the laboratory is requested, in what form is this opinion expected?

The opinion of the head of establishment and the laboratory director can take a very simple form by indicating whether they are in favour of the project or not. They may at their discretion add a sentence to recommend the project. It is therefore not necessary for them to write a letter to formulate their opinion on the project. 

Will a project be favoured if its project involves several partners? What if these partners are other SLP institutions?

The fact that a project involves several institutions is neither an advantage nor a disadvantage. An application can be submitted by only one partner. Inter-disciplinarity will be more valued than plurality of partners. 

In the first page of the application file, the laboratory code is asked to be indicated. Can you explain what this code means?

The code of the laboratory is the number o Laboratory RMU (or equivalent).

How will the IP resulting from the project be transferred?

Funded projects will benefit from the support of a perimeter valorisation service (PSL Valorisation or service of the institution or supervisory body); if a pre-existing relationship exists between the project team and one of these services, the continuity of this relationship will be encouraged as much as possible. The management and valorisation of the project results, and where applicable of pre-existing IP, will aim to promote their transfer (to a start-up, whether or not it is being created, or to another industrial partner), to maximise the socio-economic impact of this transfer and to ensure an adequate financial return to the institutions and organisations concerned, and to PSL.

What was the number of responses to the call for projects in previous editions?

In the first edition in 2018; there were about 30 responses, and in 2019 about 20. 

Who are the members of the selection committee for the 2020 edition?

This committee is made up of investors, incubation and transfer professionals and business innovation managers; its exact composition is not yet known for this year.

Will all applications be evaluated?

As far as possible, all eligible applications will be evaluated, subject however to the number of applications.

What is the success rate of this call for projects?

The success rate of this call for projects is between 30 and 50%.

Will the bearers of unfunded applications receive feedback on the evaluation?

Yes, as in previous years, a summary of the opinion of the experts and the Selection Committee will be sent to the applicants, who will also have access to the anonymised opinions of the experts. 

Is it necessary to submit a report(s)? If yes, how many reports on the period financed by the pre-maturation?

An activity report at the end of the project, plus financial reporting according to the payment schedule.