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Virginia Innovation Partnership Awards $800,000 to University Research Projects

A statewide network designed to accelerate innovation and economic growth has awarded $800,000 to 18 university research projects in Virginia.

The Virginia Innovation Partnership, created in 2012 as part of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s i6 Challenge, provides funding that allows university  researchers to advance early-stage work through  the “proof of concept” stage, in which they establish  its commercial potential. The program also connects researchers with mentors, corporations and investors to accelerate commercialization of the new discoveries and inventions. It is the only statewide innovation network in the U.S. and serves as a model for other states.

“This visionary program initiated by the White House and U.S. Department of Commerce aims at the best point of leverage which America still enjoys over global competitors – the early-stage value creation occurring in the nation’s research universities,” said Thomas C. Skalak, vice president for research at the University of Virginia and principal investigator on the i6 grant. “This proof-of-concept program develops truly new ideas and the teams behind them into investment-ready projects, which creates new jobs and economic growth for the state and nation.”

Researchers from academic institutions across Virginia submitted proposals. An external advisory group and review committee with government, corporate, research, community and venture capital experience selected 27 projects for oral presentations, with 18 of those ultimately selected for funding.

This year’s funded projects come from seven colleges and universities spanning topics that address a need in a number of areas, including health care, energy, biotechnology, materials, electronics, telecommunications and software.

Among the awarded projects are: a vaccine to prevent Lyme disease and other tick-transmitted illnesses, under development at Virginia Commonwealth University; new materials that could make everyday cosmetics safer for the environment, under development by The College of William & Mary in partnership with the Virginia Institute for Marine Science; and software-defined radios that will support  transceiver stations in rural areas, helping to ensure high-speed connectivity for all Virginians, under development at Virginia Tech.

At U.Va., a revolutionary computer chip cooling project would provide the performance needed by the microelectronics industry worldwide, with cooling that is 10 times better than current technology. The total U.S. market is more than $200 billion, and this new technology would allow Virginia to take the lead in data-center business growth and other industries dependent on computers and energy costs.

The awards mark the Virginia Innovation Partnership’s second round of funding. The partnership is supported by $1 million in federal funding over two years as part of the i6 Challenge, with additional matching funds provided by corporate participants, university partners and other entities.

The Virginia Innovation Partnership includes all of the research universities in Virginia, representing overall research activities of more than $1.5 billion annually; the state’s community colleges; 10 commercialization incubators; and multiple corporate and government agency partners.

Former White House chief technology officer Aneesh Chopra, a member of the partnership’s external advisory group and senior adviser on health care technology strategy for The Advisory Board Company, offered kudos to the i6 VIP team for organizing another successful program.

“Once again, Virginia’s capacity to build the jobs and industries of the future is evident in this year’s highly competitive awardees,” Chopra said.

This year’s funded projects:

  • “Scalable synthesis of nano-structured oxides for thermal barrier coatings,” University of Virginia
  • “NLRP3 inflammasome inhibitors in experimental acute myocardial infarction,” Virginia Commonwealth University
  • “Improved Efficacy and Safety of Ischemic Stroke Therapy using Optimal tPA Delivery to Complement Mechanical Thrombectomy,” University of Virginia
  • “Development of a novel chimeric vaccine for tick-transmitted disease,” Virginia Commonwealth University
  • “Effective Cooling Solutions for Very High Heat Flux Applications,” University of Virginia
  • “Enhancing Polymer Performance through Graphene-Based Nanoparticle Additives,” College of William & Mary
  • “Dynamic-Spectrum-Access-Enabled One-to-Any Radio: Connect Anywhere, Anytime and with Anyone,” Virginia Tech
  • “Market Advantage of Ocean Safe Biodegradable Microbead Sequestration in Marine Sediments,” College of William & Mary, Virginia Institute of Marine Science
  • “Evaluating PIC1 in a model of acute intravascular hemolytic transfusion reaction,” Eastern Virginia Medical School
  • “Laser Modification of Metallic Surfaces for Industrial Applications,” University of Virginia
  • “Next Generation Diagnostics,” George Washington University
  • “Spectrum Management Research Testbed – Self-Sustaining Broadband Network (SMART-SSBN),” Virginia Tech
  • “Development of Novel Agents to Treat Opioid-Induced Constipation,” Virginia Commonwealth University
  • “A Partially Adiabatic Digital Logic Circuit Technology for Ultra Low Power Operation,” Old Dominion University
  • “Flexible Self-powered Solar – Supercapacitor/Battery Hybrid Energy Systems from Cotton Textiles,” University of Virginia
  • “Smart Composites with in-situ Structural Health Monitoring,” Virginia Tech
  • “3D VCH Color Model,” Virginia Commonwealth University
  • “Ultrasonography Simulator Trainer,” Old Dominion University’s Virginia Modeling, Analysis, and Simulation Center.

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