Advanced Industries Grant Program allows researchers to bridge the gap between academia and industry

CSU’s Garret Miyake uses Advanced Industries grant to tackle plastic waste
Two researchers, Garret Miyake and Emma Rettner, in blue lab coats and safety glasses are discussing the results displayed on a screen next to a large tension testing machine.
Emma Rettner and Garret Miyake discuss the results after testing polymer materials as part of Miyake's work supported by the Advanced Industries Proof of Concept Grant Program.

Innovations developed within universities have a profound and global impact, but transitioning research from academia to industry is riddled with challenges. A key hurdle is bridging the gap in funding between federal research grants and private venture capital. Initiatives such as the Advanced Industries Proof of Concept Grant Program are key in reducing that gap and advancing technologies and the businesses that support them.

“Where academic research stops, there’s a gap between commercialization and where traditional funding sources will allow you to go,” said CSU Professor of Chemistry Garret Miyake. “This funding allows you to bridge that gap, derisk technologies towards commercialization, and positions you to raise additional funding.”

Miyake knows more than most about this, as a four-time recipient of Advanced Industries grants. The funding has supported him in tackling a variety of issues over the years. Among them—plastic waste. Miyake’s latest grant was awarded to support his work in recyclable polymers. Since the 1970s, the rate of plastic production has increased faster than that of any other material. Of the seven billion tonnes of plastic waste generated globally so far, less than 10 percent has been recycled and 95 percent of plastics produced are single-use. Miyake’s technology enables plastics to be recycled without separation, reducing the massive amount of plastic waste and pollution.

Advanced Industries grants provide researchers the opportunity for their concepts to receive the validation needed before they can be the focus of a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) proposal or larger federal grants. The SBIR and STTR programs are federal innovation grants restricted to US-based small companies (less than 500 employees). The grants provide funding up to $2 million for commercial technology development.

“The program allows us to strengthen our position to be much more competitive for those grant applications and have a much higher chance of success of getting proposals funded,” said Miyake. Since receiving grants through the program, Miyake has launched two startup companies—New Iridium and Cypris Materials—and has a third in development.

Miyake advises individuals interested in applying for an Advanced Industries grant to demonstrate they are making a commercially viable product from an economic perspective and that they have the capability to produce the technology at market scale. Projects eligible for funding span various industries crucial to Colorado’s growth, including aerospace advanced manufacturing; bioscience; electronics; energy and natural resources; infrastructure engineering; and technology and information.

Learn more about the Advanced Industries Proof of Concept Grant Program at csustrata.org/technology-transfer/ai-poc-grant.