Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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July 02, 2024 | Tom Ballard

U News | Universities of Mississippi and Kentucky win funding from the National Science Foundation

CU Boulder receives $20 million grant to launch a National Quantum Nanofab facility.

From Two Universities in Neighboring States:

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $35 million to five universities, including two in neighboring states, through the “Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research” (EPSCoR) to boost research competitiveness, build partnerships across academic institutions and non-academic sectors, and create workforce development opportunities.

  • One project, spearheaded by the University of Mississippi, will build capacity in the Magnolia State for use-inspired R&D of advanced polymer materials and for addressing the scientific, engineering, and educational training needs of the nano- and biotechnology industries at a time when these industries are experiencing unprecedented growth. The project proposes to create a robust pipeline for next-generation materials by fostering multidisciplinary research teams to iteratively design, synthesize, and characterize new materials, while evaluating their impact on delivery efficacy in relevant disease models. In addition to advancing scientific knowledge in biomaterials research — with a focus on pioneering innovations applicable to healthcare, bioengineering, and materials science — this project will establish a comprehensive biomaterials research network across Mississippi. Collaborating institutions include Mississippi State University, Jackson State University, Tougaloo College, Alcorn State University, University of Southern Mississippi, and University of Mississippi Medical Center.
  • The other project, led by Kentucky State University, will establish an unprecedented, cross-sector research incubator to improve nutrient management, food safety, and sustainability of soilless agriculture in Kentucky, which will lead to more diverse and inclusive STEM research and several approaches to understand how nutrient flow through aquaponic systems influences microbial communities and its potential impact on biofilm formation and food safety. The project will enhance workforce development in Kentucky by creating new curricula, integrating research into student learning, and developing new work-and-learn opportunities. Collaborating institutions include Bluegrass Community and Technical College, University of Pikeville, Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation, and FoodChain Inc.

From the University of Colorado Boulder:

Speaking of NSF, the federal agency recently announced a $20 million grant to the University to launch a facility known as the National Quantum Nanofab (NQN). In this facility, researchers and quantum specialists from around the country will be able to design and build incredibly small devices that tap into the world of atoms and photons — the tiny packets of energy that makeup light.

Frequently referred to as the “quantum machine shop” of the 21st century, Principal Investigator Scott Diddams said it will help transform discoveries from the quantum world into technologies and devices that can have greater impact on society and shore up a rapidly growing sector of Colorado’s economy

Once the facility is complete, users from CU Boulder, Colorado industry and government labs and from across the United States, will be able to employ the various nanofabrication tools to begin creating new technologies. These may include the core integrated components of clocks that can keep time based on the “ticking” of atoms or quantum computer chips that may outperform the fastest computers on the market today.

From the University of Utah:

­­Entrepreneurs passionate about changing financial services, now have a new way to supercharge a business or idea: the Stena fintechXstudio, an early stage fintech incubator and accelerator for students and recent alumni from all colleges and universities within the State of Utah.

The first of its kind in Utah, the studio provides entrepreneurs access to advisors, office space in the historic hardware building in downtown Salt Lake City, start-up funding, business services, and a broad network of fintech experts to help grow their businesses. The program lasts a year, providing cohort companies the runway to iterate and grow their fintech solution.

The studio is part of a broader effort to make Utah a hub for fintech excellence. The studio has partnered with the University of Utah’s Stena Center for Financial Technology, which was launched in January 2023 with the support of the Stena Foundation a total funding commitment of up to $65 million over the next 10 years.

“This incubator and accelerator will build on the success of the fintech community in Utah and will become a major hub for ongoing financial technology innovation and real economic impact,” said Steve Smith, Chairman of the Stena Foundation and a seasoned fintech entrepreneur.

The 2024 inaugural studio cohort is comprised of four companies across the fintech ecosystem – from sending healthcare payments across the globe to financial tools for non-profits, the founders are committed to building innovative and inclusive financial services products. Click here to learn more about the first cohort.

From Stanford University:

The University’s Office of Technology Licensing (OTL) has been working with campus researchers and inventors to put their technologies to use in society for more than half a century. In 2022, OTL launched the High Impact Technology (HIT) Fund to provide custom advisory services and financial support to bridge the gap between the academic lab and the commercial market. In addition to funding, awardees are matched with leading industry executive advisors and Stanford Graduate School of Business interns who help with business strategy and are introduced to strategic partners and investors.

Now through July 10, the HIT Fund is accepting applications from all Stanford disciplines and hopes to attract more inventors from the humanities and arts, social sciences, education, law, and business. Stanford faculty, postdocs, students, and staff working on inventions with commercial promise are encouraged to apply.

Since its inception, the HIT Fund has supported 32 projects, bringing together teams of inventors, researchers, MBA interns, and external advisors. Several teams have created start-ups and others are in the commercialization process. Six projects have completed their HIT Fund award terms and have raised nearly $18 million in external funding. Many awardees are early-career faculty, have never commercialized a product, or are members of underrepresented groups.

From the University of Alabama:

The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa has announced the opening of the Alabama Center for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AI), housed within the College of Engineering.

The new research center, recently approved by the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees, is supported in part through a $2 million donation in honor of former chair of the department of computer science, Dr. Marvin A. Griffin. It will unify new and existing work across campus, greatly expanding research, education, and outreach activities related to the development and application of AI.

“The launch of the ALA-AI Center marks a transformative moment in AI research and education here at The University of Alabama and for our state, showcasing UA’s unwavering dedication to excellence, innovation, world-class education and in being at the forefront of the research and development of cutting-edge technologies,” said Dr. Clifford Henderson, Dean of the College of Engineering.

From DeVry University:

The Lisle, IL-based university announced an impactful partnership with 1871 aimed at advancing and fostering AI innovation and entrepreneurship. Known for being a catalyst in Chicago’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, 1871 is a collective of trailblazing founders, visionary leaders, and resilient innovators.

“We are thrilled to partner with 1871 to expand opportunities for our students, corporate partners, and communities,” said Shantanu Bose, DeVry University’s Provost and Chief Academic Officer. “DeVry’s unique legacy is rooted in innovation. Our forward-thinking founders envisioned the kind of technology-focused, hands-on education that DeVry still stands for today. This innovative partnership reaffirms our commitment to help prepare the next generation of AI, technology and business leaders.”

As part of this ongoing partnership, DeVry also participated in 1871’s annual AI Innovation Summit, which occurred last week in conjunction with Chicago AI Week. The event convened for a full day of programming centered around AI innovation and critical industry topics. It brings together more than 250 start-ups, investors, corporate partners, and industry experts.

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