For the second year, the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust is supporting Pacific Northwest researchers in turning lab discoveries into products or services that will improve your life. The Trust’s  Commercialization Initiative Fund is dedicated to supporting projects that have reached the “valley of death,” a stretch of time between academic grants and private investment where very little funding exists.

Helping researchers through “valley of death”

“There aren’t many foundations that fund technology development at this critical stage, and it is very important to help move basic research into real world application. We are very pleased to help our faculty with applications for this grant,” said Esther Pratt, Associate Director of Foundation Relations at WSU.

WSU innovator Jacob Leachman, Ph.D. was one of five researchers to receive the first round of funding. Along with a team of graduate students, Dr. Leachman recently launched a company, Protium Innovations, LLC., based on a technology and process for hydrogen storage developed in his lab. Still in the very early stages, the innovators need every penny they can find to get the technology to testable scale, run validity tests, make protoypes and other steps that will prepare it for private investment.

“The Murdock Trust funding was an important tool for leveraging discussions and additional capital towards commercializing our concept,” Dr. Leachman said.

As potential partners see other trusted organizations and companies investing in a new idea, they become more willing to invest as well. Adding support that can kickstart that kind of investment just builds on the Murdock Trust’s long history of supporting the advancement of science and education in Washington; making it an even stronger partner in the effort to develop solutions for today’s biggest challenges.

Round 2 of funding under way

The second round of applications started last week, and several WSU researchers submitted concept papers for internal WSU review. Only one of those projects will be selected to be submitted by WSU. Full proposals are due to the Murdock Trust in April 2016, and winners are announced in August.

The award is a $60,000 matching grant. Projects need to be in natural sciences, medicine, and engineering. Some examples of relevant projects are: ‘proof-of-concept’ creation, establishing IP, or attracting angel investors. A project can be pre-patent or post-patent.  The funding should help the university and the researcher to position their project for an important next-step commercialization funding source (e.g. the SBIR).

The Murdock Trust will offer this award annually, so if you are on the path towards taking your discovery to the world, keep this fund as an option for you next January.

If you are a WSU researcher interested in learning more about this award, or getting an email updated about the deadline next year, please click here.