Research Communications

Technology Gap Fund offers four grants for engineering, medical innovations 

New Ohio University program assists with research commercialization

ATHENS, Ohio (June 10, 2009) – Ohio University’s new Technology Gap Fund has awarded grants to four faculty members to help commercialize engineering and medical inventions.

The program, managed by the Vice President for Research at Ohio University, offered almost $170,000 in funding to aid researchers in moving their ideas from the lab to the marketplace. The recipients have applied for U.S. patents and demonstrated the potential commercial market for their concepts.

“The Technology Gap Fund will allow our researchers to test and refine their inventions, which in turn can attract investors and companies who can license and manufacture the technologies,” said Rathindra Bose, vice president for research and dean of the Graduate College.

The first recipients are:

•    Frank Kraft, associate professor of mechanical engineering, received $50,000 for a new technology that uses copper micro-channel tubing for high efficiency, environmentally friendly heat exchangers for the global heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration industry. A 10 percent penetration into the residential air-conditioning market with this technology would represent an annual usage of about 100,000 tonnes of copper and potential sales of more than $500 million, according to Kraft.  

•    JungHun Choi, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, received $49,924 for a new design of an endoscope that could minimize the risks of injury during colonoscopies and other medical diagnostic procedures. Choi has developed an endoscope with a stiff but flexible sheath that can navigate the colon and other passages of the human body more safely than conventional tools. The device could improve diagnosis of colon cancer, intestine tract infections and inflammatory bowel disease, as well as problems of the stomach, esophagus and nose, according to Choi.

•    Gerardine Botte, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, received $42,392 for an electrochemical device that can remove ammonia and metals from wastewater. The technology can help cruise ships comply with a new Alaska law that bans boats from discharging wastewater that does not meet Environmental Protection Agency standards, according to Botte. The state boasts a significant cruise ship market, as an average of 3,500 cruises visit Alaskan ports during high season, generating more than $80 billion per year in revenue.

•    Brooke Hallowell, an associate professor of hearing, speech and language sciences, received $26,769 for an invention that tracks eye movements to evaluate the level of language comprehension in people with brain injuries. Knowing how much a person understands when listening to others speak is essential for appropriate treatment, socialization, and major life decisions related to living arrangements, financial management, legal status, and potential for return to work, as well as educational and leisure activities, according to Hallowell.

The Technology Gap Fund is supported in part by royalty revenues from the university’s existing technology licenses. Ohio University received $5.9 million in royalty revenues in fiscal year 2008. Forbes magazine has rated the university fourth in the nation for research return on investment.

For full guidelines and details on the program, contact research@ohio.edu.