Frequently Asked Questions

Application Process and Review

Who is eligible to apply? Eligible applicants are scientists from Yale or UConn with compelling projects that meet a new clinical demand or offer a significant improvement over an existing treatment.

How can I apply? The application format is non-traditional! Applicants should fill in the template PowerPoint slide deck with relevant information. Helpful Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and tips can be found in “Notes” view within PowerPoint. Please note that your final PowerPoint slide deck is not limited to 11 slides; however the length should be kept reasonably short to enable a 20 minutes maximum oral presentation if the application advances to the next round.

Are there any therapeutic areas which are preferred for the program? No. All compelling assays or chemistry approaches which have a strong commercial and clinical potential will be considered for PITCH, regardless of the therapeutic area.

How many projects are being funded? Projects will be selected for funding based on their potential for success through the program as well as resource capacity within the program at the time of evaluation. Strong projects may be put in a queue until a specific resource capacity becomes available. We expect that up to six projects could be funded in the first round (however please note that accepted projects will be subjected to additional rounds of evaluation following assay development and screening, and may exit the program based on assay performance).

Can I apply with a phenotypic assay when the target is unknown? Yes. Phenotypic assays will receive the best reviews if the pathway is well characterized, such that there is a discrete list of candidate targets, and there are tools to facilitate deconvolution of the candidate target among potential targets efficiently.

How much preliminary data is needed for the application? No data is needed, yet working knowledge and experience with the systems presented reduces risk and makes for a more competitive application.

Is there a preference for the projects which already have active therapeutic leads? No. We anticipate some projects may enter the program with an active lead, but most will not.

How much market/business analysis is expected for the initial PowerPoint slide deck? We expect that a just limited analysis will be performed for the initial PowerPoint, but that some careful thought about application with a justification for that proposal will be presented.

How frequently are applications accepted and reviewed? The deadline for the next round of applications is November 15, 2016. Applications will be due yearly in three cycles with deadlines on March 15, July 15 and November 15.

When can I expect to hear back after application submission? You will be notified if your PowerPoint application was selected for a presentation to the External Advisory Board (the next round of presentations are scheduled for April 22, 2016). Following the oral presentation, you will be notified within two months’ time.

Will I get any feedback if I don’t get selected for the program after slide deck submission? Yes, you will receive some summary comments from reviewers by email.

What happens if my application is not accepted in the round for which I applied? Can I re-apply? You can re-apply in a future application and review cycle with the same project that you initially submitted. 

Based on applications reviewed, what are the qualities of highly scoring applications? High scoring applications have the following characteristics: strong connection between the target and the disease; selectivity for disease or ability to target specific tissues; competitive advantage; known target or feasible target-finding process; reasonable mechanisms of action; high throughput assay concept; screening cascade presented to characterize best hits efficiently; disease prevalence; and suitable animal model accepted in the field.

Accepted Applications

How much time will I have to prepare for oral presentation if my slide deck gets accepted? You will have up to two weeks to prepare your 12 minute presentation of your slide deck.

If my application is approved for funding, when and how would the project start? The project will start immediately or as soon as possible based on capacity. There may be minor delays based on reagent needs or short-term capacity constraints.

Does the PITCH cover cost of required reagents? PITCH fully covers the cost of user fees and assay/chemistry reagents. In keeping with the program’s resource efficient approach, the assay format used may be different than what is initially described in the application.

What is the cost associated with participation in PITCH? The awardee is expected to provide expertise, guidance, methods and reagents proprietary to their laboratory. These are valuable resources necessary for project success! There is no additional cost to participate.

Are there any per-project cost or time limits? Projected run-times for a project are approximately 18 months if starting at the assay development stage but are shorter for projects entering at a later phase. Each project will have specific needs. Project funds are not unlimited and the intention is to use resources for successful outcomes for the entire project pool.

How is funding distributed? Funds will not be directly distributed to project awardees. Instead, research projects from UConn and Yale labs will be selected for inclusion in the PITCH program where they will progress towards potential presentation to the venture community as investment opportunities.

Is all work done at UConn and YCMD? No. Work will be done at UConn and YCMD as it best meets project needs. Some work may be contracted to contract research organizations for medicinal chemistry, analysis or preclinical testing. Members of your laboratory are not expected to be directly involved in hands-on assay activities for the PITCH project.

What is the PITCH process like? Please see the workflow diagram here.

Will all awarded projects go through the entire PITCH workflow? No. Projects will be evaluated in a second phase following the initial screening. Priority for medicinal chemistry will be made based on the quality of chemical matter. In addition, projects will be subjected to evaluations following assay development, screening and virtual hit expansion, and can exit the program based on assay performance.

How and when will the go/no go decisions be made?  Who will be making these decisions? The External Advisory Board will be making go/no go decisions prior to assay development and prior to medicinal chemistry. Should issues arise during the course of a project, it will be presented to the External Advisory Board for counsel.

Who is on the External Advisory Board? Please learn about our External Advisory Board members here.

What is the role of the awardee in the program?  The awardee is the project champion. Awardee’s insight, knowledge and reagents are unique and extremely valuable to the success and novelty of the project. If the project is successful, the awardee will be the founder of the new biopharma/biotech.

Is active participation in research activities and experiment design expected and/or encouraged? We welcome active participation by awardees in the design of the screening and secondary assays. There are no requirements for them to participate in performing the screens.

How frequently is PI provided with updates on the project?  What is the format of the updates? Quarterly updates can be provided with face-to-face meetings, or by phone and email containing summary data. More frequent conversations about a project are welcomed.

Will YCMD or UConn staff participate and/or help develop PITCH presentations for VCs? The application slide deck used through PITCH will form the basis of the presentation to VCs. The PITCH leadership will work with the faculty entrepreneurs to help craft an attractive pitch presentation to potential investors.  In addition, resources are available at host institutions and throughout the state to prepare for presentations to venture firms.

Who gets IP rights from any discoveries? The intellectual property developed during PITCH is owned by your university. However during the course of the project, PITCH scientists may become inventors. In those cases, they will participate in any future revenue sharing according to the policies in place at the university from which the project originated.

Can a publication be submitted based on PITCH project findings? Yes. You must engage the technology transfer group at your host institution prior to any publications to ensure that the intellectual property remains intact for engagement of future investment. Publications must acknowledge the financial support of PITCH and, when appropriate, include the PITCH scientists who have contributed to the findings in the submitted manuscript.

Can projects accepted for PITCH seek additional funding from other agencies? A PITCH project cannot be funded by any other group or funding agency if that would result in granting IP rights to a third party (e.g., sponsored research from a pharmaceutical company or private foundation).  However, you are able to submit the project for alternative funding while it is being actively executed by PITCH to agencies that assign IP rights to your home university (e.g., federal funding such as NIH, DoD). Revenue resulting from royalties, milestones, licensing, or other capital-generating events which participated in PITCH will be distributed according to the UConn and Yale policies regarding faculty inventor revenue sharing and to the allocations established in the royalty sharing agreement between Yale, UConn and Connecticut Innovations. The basis of the agreement is to incentivize all groups as stakeholders in the success of the program.

My project was awarded a Promising Project Award – what is this? Promising Project Awards (PPA) are $10K direct-to-lab awards designed to strengthen future PITCH applications by providing targeted funds to address a specific question raised during expert review. It covers reagents, equipment and personnel used for completion of the experiments in the PI lab up within the duration of the PITCH program in a cost reimbursable manner. Once recommended experiments are complete, the PPA awardee may submit a PITCH application and we anticipate that with new data in hand, their application will be even more competitive.