By Liz Warren-Pederson
Research developed by University of Arizona faculty is among the inaugural class of 21 projects to garner funding from the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps), which aims to guide research with commercial potential out of university laboratories and into the marketplace.
The UA team is headed by associate professor of engineering Eniko Enikov, who, along with professor of basic medical science Gholam Peyman, developed a technology that would allow glaucoma patients to measure changes in eye pressure at home.
Enikov’s I-Corps team includes Vasco Polyzoev and Emre Toker. Polyzoev completed his doctoral studies under Enikov’s advisement, and also participated in the top-ranked McGuire Entrepreneurship Program, where his venture team developed a plan around the same technology. Toker is an entrepreneur and mentor-in-residence with the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship.
The team will receive guidance from private- and public-sector experts, participate in a specially designed training curriculum, and receive $50,000 to begin assessing the commercial readiness of its technology concept.
“The I-Corps program helps bridge the gap between academic research and venture funding,” explained Enikov. “This funding will help us refine the prototype and prove the technology through additional research and testing.”
“I-Corps has generated tremendous excitement,” says I-Corps program officer Errol Arkilic. “Our first round of awards emerged from a wide array of fields and strong fundamental research efforts. All show promise as potential innovations that could yield additional direct benefits to society.” The program is designed to support up to 100 projects annually, at $50,000 each, for up to six months. Researchers who have active National Science Foundation grants are eligible to apply.
For awardees, the first in-depth phase of the Innovation Corps experience began on October 10, 2011, when the participants arrived at Stanford University for the NSF I-Corps curriculum kickoff.