UCI startup MetaSeismic has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant for $225K to conduct research and development (R&D) work on seismic metamaterials – an improvement to earthquake protection technology related to saving lives and property.
The SBIR program provides funding for early stage research and development, requiring no equity in exchange — empowering companies to retain full control of their team, direction of work and intellectual property. Stakeholders benefiting from MetaSeismic’s product include large data centers, office buildings, research parks and organizations where an earthquake or subsequent disaster can result in destruction of high value property, such as data stored on servers.
Earthquakes are prevalent over a third of the world’s surface and cause billions of dollars in property damage annually. In the U.S. states and territories, over 109 million people and 4.3 million businesses are exposed to earthquakes and related seismic risks annually. Los Angeles is currently registering the Southern California region’s highest earthquake risk – higher than before the Northridge earthquake of 1994, one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history.
To protect lives and prevent unnecessary property destruction, MetaSeismic is developing a product made from a combination of properties, unseen in any other metamaterial. “When located underneath a building or an object, our material can be used to separate these things from the ground and dissipate the destructive energy that comes from an earthquake. It is also very scalable and can be manufactured in any possible size and shape to address all types of applications ranging from small and delicate objects to homes or bridges,” says Noemi Bonessio Ph.D. PE, a researcher in the UCI Henry Samueli School of Engineering, founder of MetaSeismic and inventor of the core technology. Using MetaSeismic’s solution, companies of every size will benefit from enhanced safety, reduced repair costs of sensitive equipment such as computer servers containing vital information and extended operability after earthquakes while addressing the additional protection of lives in the process.
Motivated to develop a solution after observing devastating earthquakes affecting cities around the world in addition to her home country of Italy, Bonessio moved from Rome to San Diego to continue her research and join the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Caltrans facility which specializes in testing earthquakes, seismic isolation, and energy dissipation systems. Bonessio also expanded her focus beyond the university lab, successfully completing the UCSD Rady School of Management/ Micro MBA Program and the Synchrtorn Program, an accelerator at the University of Southern California (USC). She credits these programs as the catalysts that helped her identify and accelerate the societal benefits of her research.