16 research centers to get state funding

Published: Tuesday, June 20 2006 12:00 a.m. MDT

Sixteen university research centers will receive funding for 2006-07 through the state's Centers of Excellence program.

The Governor's Office of Economic Development Board approved the funding Friday for research groups developing products or technologies at Utah universities.

The office received 38 proposals for funding, and review teams consisting of chief executive officers, senior vice presidents and other senior-level executives primarily from technology companies conducted reviews of 35 and recommended funding for 16. Five others were awarded funds for business teams to assist them in commercialization efforts.

Two others, referred to as "companion spinout" companies, also received Centers funding. Seven had applied.

"We wanted to focus attention on job creation," COE director Nicole Toomey Davis told the board prior to its vote. "We're in the company-creation sector. I've been around through the program saying our job is jobs, and I would say that there are a few people who were like, 'Really? We're researchers.'

"We've really motivated and mobilized the entire program around this concept — that this program is about helping create great, quality jobs here in Utah for Utah residents."

The program's $3 million budget includes $2.3 million in direct funding; $135,000 for the two spinouts; $490,000 for business teams; plus $75,000 for business team counseling prior to filing Centers proposals next year.

Centers receiving 2006-07 funding are:

Acoustics Research, Brigham Young University: Commercializing active sound control technology with superior ability to both reduce noise in varied settings (vehicle cabins, computer fans and telecommunications, for example) and modify sounds for commercial benefit.

Advanced Communications Technology, BYU: Improved wireless communications and data transmission for both military and commercial markets is achieved through the use of MIMO (multiple-input multiple-output) technology with multiple antenna elements.

Advanced Imaging LADAR, Utah State University: Commercializing land-based and airborne high-resolution, laser-based 3-D color-imaging platforms for both military and civilian use.

Advanced Thermal Management Technologies, USU: Technologies for extremely high-performance thermal management in the context of physical and vibration isolation, in part from collaboration with USU's Space Dynamics Lab.

Biomedical Microfluidics, University of Utah: Products from engineering technology that controls the movement of fluids in channels smaller than a human hair, micropumps that can deliver tiny quantities of drugs and improved devices for DNA screening.

Control of Flows in Manufacturing, USU: Applying computational fluid dynamics to improve manufacturing processes, including particle sorting and electrical discharge machining.

Functionally Graded and Designed Cemented Tungsten Carbide and Polycrystalline Diamond Composite Materials, U.: Advanced composite materials with predictable wear and failure characteristics designed for demanding applications such as mining, drilling, and grinding.

Homogeneous DNA Analysis, U.: Developing a simple and inexpensive method for genotyping DNA samples from patients or disease organisms in a doctor's office.

Interactive Ray-Tracing and Photo-Realistic Visualization, U.: Producing a commercial form of two programs that can process 3-D graphics based on large data sets found in CAD, film animation and scientific models, which existing GPUs cannot handle.

Microarray Technology, U.: Developing a superior microarray platform for the molecular diagnostics and research markets with improved sensitivity, specificity and throughput.

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