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University of Missouri to Launch Tech Commercialization Hub

The University of Missouri is among several U.S. higher-ed institutions to receive an award from the National Science Foundation to create a new research hub focused on emerging tech applications across disciplines.

Stone pillars with the University of Missouri logo in a banner hanging in between them.
The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) recently selected the University of Missouri as the latest of several U.S. higher-ed institutions to receive an Accelerating Research Translation award to support emerging tech research.

According to a February news release from the university, the four-year $5.5 million award will be used to create a Technology, Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Hub, which will support research projects geared toward creating commercial tech products to solve challenges across disciplines and professions. The announcement follows the National Science Foundation’s launch of the Accelerating Research Translation (ART) program in December, which proposed to invest more than $100 million in 18 academic institutions to accelerate research with similar goals in mind.

“Our goal is to help address a knowledge gap,” Sheila Grant, a professor in the MU College of Engineering and the principal investigator on the grant, said in a public statement. “While Mizzou faculty have great research and write impactful academic papers, they might not know how to best translate their ideas into the commercial or consumer space. This hub can provide wrap-around support and mentoring to bridge the gap and help them reach the point of commercializing their product or service.”

According to the announcement, each of the academic institutions involved in the NSF initiative selected a mentor institution for this project, with Missouri’s being Washington University in St. Louis. The announcement said Nichole Mercier, assistant vice chancellor and managing director of the Washington University Office of Technology Management, will work with University of Missouri researchers on the project.

“Washington University has a proven record of translating academic research findings into commercial enterprises,” said Tom Spencer, MU’s vice chancellor for research. “Under the direction of Sheila Grant and her team, we look forward to working with them and the NSF on this opportunity to help MU researchers forge a legacy of excellence in translational research.”

The announcement said the University of Missouri hub will put graduate students and postdoctoral researchers through a series of eight-week sessions designed to teach them how to boost the impact of their research. The hub will also focus on scaling and building research capacity, as well as building a network of MU researchers with experience in commercialization to foster a culture of “technology, entrepreneurship and community-oriented commercialization,” according to the news release.

The announcement added that two projects have already been selected to receive seed funding from the hub: EcoTrast-GI, a food-based oral contrast agent for radiographic imaging of the gastrointestinal tract, and research efforts focusing on artificial intelligence applications in the development of novel fungicides.