September 13, 2016

RIPE helps researchers garner new grant

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Office of Technology Management (OTM) recently announced the 2016 awardees of the Illinois Proof-of-Concept Funding Program (I-POC). I-POC facilitates development projects that demonstrate an innovation's market viability to potential investors and partners. Projects consist of a defined set of milestones that, when completed, help overcome a specific hurdle to an innovation’s transfer outside of the University.

RIPE Director Steve Long was awarded IPOC funding to pursue increased photosynthetic efficiency, and therefore productivity, in plants. Specifically, the funding will be used to speed up plant recovery from photoprotection in corn and soybeans using biotechnology. 

Photosynthesis is the process in which plants turn light energy and carbon dioxide into food and fuel. In full sun, plants receive more energy than they can use. The extra energy could generate damaging molecules, but instead, plants siphon this energy off as heat to protect themselves. When a cloud passes overhead, plants are slow to recover from this process, called photoprotection or non-photochemical quenching (NPQ). This video illustrates photoprotection.

The I-POC Fund is made possible by contributions from participating colleges and units across campus and matching funds from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research. Since 2009, campus proof-of-concept funding has helped enable:

  • 11 startup companies;
  • $50 million in venture and angel funding; and
  • $2.55 million in SBIR/STTR funding and other government funding

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