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After catalyzing nearly 800 interdisciplinary projects over 7 years, U-M’s Mcubed program closed in June 2020. The Mcubed Communities platform also has been closed. These decisions do not affect the end dates of active Mcubed projects. Please continue to spend down funds as planned. Operations for active Mcubed projects have been transferred to the U-M Office of Research, which will process requests and see projects through to close-out. Spending and close-out issues are addressed below, and you may contact with questions or for other assistance.

Mcubed FAQ


  • What is Mcubed?

Mcubed was a seed-funding program developed at the University of Michigan to stimulate and support innovative research. The program grew out of the IdeaWorks project in the College of Engineering and was part of the University’s Third Century Initiative.

  • What is a cube?

A cube is a funded project with three investigators from at least two different departments. Investigators create projects and invite collaborators to join them.

  • Will there be another round of Mcubed funding?

No. Mcubed 3.0 will be the last round of cube funding. Operations were transferred to the U-M Office of Research (UMOR), which will see active cubes through to project close-out. Spending and financial questions are addressed below. You may contact with further questions.

  • Will an Mcubed symposium be held to present my cube’s research outcomes?

There are no plans at this time to have a symposium for recent Mcubed projects. UMOR will communicate details of expectations for final deliverables at project close.

  • What is happening with Mcubed Communities?

Mcubed Communities was a program to help facilitate the formation of larger teams beyond an individual research project, grouped around shared expertise, research theme, or other method to build collaborations and showcase successes. At this point, Mcubed Communities is on hiatus and the website has been taken down. Please stay tuned for further communications about other ways U-M is helping facilitate team formation.

  • Will the Mcubed Diamond Program continue?

The Mcubed Diamond Program provided an opportunity for donors or internal U-M units to invest in research projects that align with their specific interests. At this time, we are not forming new Diamond Cubes. If you are a donor who is interested in sponsoring a research project, please contact David Thompson, Director of Development for UMOR,

Spending & Close-Out

  • Can I use Mcubed funding to pay part of faculty salaries?

No. In line with the educational mission of Mcubed, at least 50% of the cube’s funding must be used to support U-M undergraduate students, graduate students or postdocs. The remaining funds can be used for equipment, supplies, lab fees, subject incentives, staff support, and travel. Investigator salaries are not allowable expenses.

  • We have completed our project, and we’re ready to close out the account. What next?

To request a cube close-out, please have the lead single administrative point of contact (SAPOC) submit an application through the Office of Research InfoReady Review portal. Any unspent funds totaling more than $2,000 will be returned to the cube's original funding sources; any unspent funds in an account with less than $2,000 will just be returned to the Provost for future funding programs. If there is a deficit in cube funding, the overdraft will be collected from faculty collaborators by charging 1/3 each to the overdraft shortcodes provided. With help from the U-M Shared Services Center, UMOR will partner with all parties conducting cube research and managing financials to close out each Mcube. If questions arise regarding your close-out, please email

  • COVID-19 has impacted my research. Will UMOR extend cube funding?

If COVID-19 has delayed your cube’s research progress, UMOR will allow a one-time NCTX to May 31, 2021. At this time, we cannot extend projects beyond that date. If COVID-19 has further delayed your research activities, please check back in early 2021 for updates and additional information regarding COVID-19-related extensions. 

Patents & Intellectual Property

  • Am I able to publish or disclose to others outside of U-M the results of my research and still protect the commercial value of my intellectual property?

Yes, but since patent rights are affected by these activities, it is best to submit an Invention Report to Tech Transfer well before communicating or disclosing your invention to people outside the U-M community. There are significant differences between the U.S. and other countries as to how early publication affects a potential patent. Once publicly disclosed (published or presented in some form), an invention may have a restricted or minimal potential for patent protection outside of the U.S. Be sure to inform the Tech Transfer licensing specialist assigned to you of any imminent or prior presentation, lecture, poster, abstract, website description, research proposal submission, dissertation/masters thesis, publication, or other public presentation describing the invention. Contact the Office of Tech Transfer at

  • Am I able to share and disclose materials, research tools or intellectual property with others to further their research as part of a research collaboration?

Yes. However, it is important to document items that are to be shared with others and the conditions of use. It may be necessary to have a Confidentiality Agreement completed to protect your research results or intellectual property. In order to obtain help for a Confidentiality Agreement, if you are sharing information for (a) a sponsored project, generally ORSP will help you, or (b) purposes related to tech transfer, generally the Office of Tech Transfer will help you.

  • What is an Invention Report?

An Invention Report (IR) is a written description of your invention or development that is provided to U-M Tech Transfer. The IR should list all collaborating sources of support and include all of the information necessary to begin pursuing protection, marketing, and commercialization activities.

This document will be treated as “University Confidential.” Based on the Invention Report, U-M Tech Transfer may generate a non-confidential description of your invention in order to assist in marketing the technology. Once potential partners have been identified, and confidentiality agreements have been signed, more detailed exchanges of information can be made.

  • Why should I submit an Invention Report?

When you disclose your invention to U-M Tech Transfer, it starts a process that could lead to the protection and commercialization of your technology. This may involve beginning the legal protection process and working to identify outside development partners. If government funds were used for your research, you are required to file a prompt disclosure, which U-M Tech Transfer will report to the sponsoring agency. Similar requirements may exist for other sponsored projects.

  • How do I know if my discovery is an invention that can or should be protected?

You are encouraged to submit an Invention Report for all inventions and developments that you feel may solve a significant problem and/or have significant value. If you are in doubt, contact U-M Tech Transfer to discuss the invention and strategies for commercialization.

  • When should I complete an Invention Report?

You should complete an Invention Report whenever you feel you have discovered something unique with possible commercial value. This should be done well before presenting the discovery through publications, poster sessions, conferences, press releases, or other communications. Once publicly disclosed (i.e., published or presented in some form), an invention may have restricted or minimal potential for patent protection outside of the United States. Differences exist between the U.S. and other countries on the impact of early publication on a potential patent. Be sure to inform U-M Tech Transfer of any imminent or prior presentation, lecture, poster, abstract, website description, research proposal, dissertation/masters thesis, publication, or other public presentation including the invention.

  • How do I submit an Invention Report?

You can submit your innovation online at If you have any questions, call U-M Tech Transfer at 734.763.0614 or email them at