Specialized program helps bring meaningful technologies out of the lab and into the world.
UC Irvine is one of the nation’s foremost public research universities. The campus is home to world-class researchers and faculty members who work at the cutting edge of their disciplines to discover and invent the next groundbreaking technologies.
Many of these groundbreaking technologies have significant commercial potential, which, if further developed, can be brought to the public faster where they can create a positive impact, as well as lead to economic growth through the creation of new businesses and more jobs. Funding to accelerate a technology’s commercial potential, however, can be hard to come by.
One technology which received such funding was developed by Chang Liu, associate professor at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering. Awarded in 2018 through UCI Beall Applied Innovation’s Proof of Product (POP) Grants program to develop a platform technology to rapidly evolve therapeutic antibodies, Liu is now using the same platform to study SARS-CoV-2 – the strain of coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Liu’s story is just one of many that illustrate the untold potential of projects funded through the program.
Applied Innovation’s POP Grants program was established to bridge funding gaps and assist faculty innovators with overcoming barriers to commercialization and achieving the next step in development. The program invites UCI faculty innovators who have projects and products with significant potential in the early stages of development to apply to be awarded up to $100,000 to help move research and intellectual property toward commercially viable products and services over a nine-month period. Approved use of the funds includes, but is not limited to, building a working prototype, demonstrating efficacy or operating performance, or determining the toxicity profile of a drug candidate.
Since 2017, the POP Grants program has awarded nearly $3 million to over 30 faculty innovators, thanks to donors and organizations who understand the importance of this funding and from Assembly Bill 2664, which allocated funds to each of the University of California’s 10 campuses for the purpose of investing in infrastructure, incubators and entrepreneurship education programs.
Through their philanthropic support, donors like Applied Innovation board member Hans Imhof play a key role in funding breakthrough technologies and life-changing innovations.
“It is critical that UCI research labs are consistently and robustly supported financially and through early industry dialogue to ensure university born innovation and invention work meets its optimal commercial impact. POP Grants uniquely offers both to the university research engine,” said Imhof. “Additionally, there is no overheard so 100 percent of gifts go directly to the research projects. I encourage anyone who has the means and interest consider supporting POP Grants to join me in ensuring that no UCI invention or innovation that needs commercial support to deliver its potential benefit is left behind.”
Take part in the commercialization of UCI discoveries designed to benefit humankind and positively impact the regional economy.
*Main graphic: Selina Tieu