STAC provides spark for collaborative research

For the last seven years the state has played an active role in cultivating a technology industry that has grown, and expected to continue to grow for the foreseeable future. More

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STAC provides spark for collaborative research

LEAGUES DEEP: URI oceanography professor Dwight Coleman, left, and RITE-Solutions Program Manager Jay Ferguson, in the school’s Inner Space Center.
Posted 2/6/12

For the last seven years the state has played an active role in cultivating a technology industry that has grown, and expected to continue to grow for the foreseeable future.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s 2011 edition of the “Occupational Outlook Handbook,” employment opportunities for technological positions are expected to grow much faster than average, and job prospects will be excellent. Rapid growth is forecast in computer, database, biological, medical and environmental fields, to name a few, and the state plans to be ready to offer those opportunities.

That is why the R.I. Science and Technology Advisory Council was created in 2005, to increase and improve the state’s technological capabilities. In the last four years, it has awarded approximately $6.5 million to 38 teams from 35 research institutions. The funding has supported a wide range of products, from prosthetic limbs to high-tech toys for children with cerebral palsy. So far, recipients have gained nearly $10 million in follow-through funding from public and private sources.

The awards are part of STAC’s Collaborative Research Grant program, which provides funding to projects that will lead to new research opportunities of substance. Once the award is given and the research is performed, these projects could then be funded to a greater extent by federal agencies, corporations or foundations. If ready, they could also contribute to economic development in the state through development, and ultimately, commercialization. The goal is to encourage research that possesses an immediate application or has the ability to do so with additional national funding. STAC puts a high priority on identifying ways to support entrepreneurship and new-company creation across the state.

As the grant’s name implies, applicants must consist of more than one organization and must show an ability to work together. Proposed projects – not to exceed one year – are evaluated by a team of scientists in a peer-review process, as well as a STAC subcommittee, in order to determine scientific merit and impact on strategic growth, or employment.

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