Since the Commercialization Gap Fund launched at Washington State University two years ago, 14 researchers have received funding to fill the gap between their discoveries and private investment. The Washington Research Foundation (WRF) has just invested up to $1 million for the next four years in the fund.
The fund has helped with everything from taking a muscle regenerating treatment to the next step in the drug development process (https://economicdevelopment.wsu.edu/2016/03/28/2333/), to developing training that will help police officers overcome biases (https://economicdevelopment.wsu.edu/2016/06/21/counter-bias-training-simulation-reaches-officers-gap-fund-support/).
“We have been impressed with the diversity of innovations at WSU,” said Beth Etscheid, director of research commercialization at the WRF (http://www.wrfseattle.org/), which established the fund with WSU in 2014.
“The funding has been invested very well over many different departments and technology types,” she said. “Advancing ideas developed at our research institutions into products and services that benefit the public is crucial to our mission.”
“WRF has long been a strong supporter of WSU innovation,” said Anson Fatland, associate vice president of WSU economic development. “We greatly appreciate this continued support of the gap fund, which will remain crucial to developing technologies and spinning out WSU companies.”
Once a researcher has proven a discovery has potential as a product or service, fine-tuning typically is needed before seeking private investment. Federal grants often do not cover the costs of technology development or validation tests, and few other funding options are available. Due to this funding gap, innovations from university labs often get left on the shelf.
The WRF provides support throughout the process, from attracting outstanding researchers to Washington, to investing in companies that spin out of nonprofit research institutions. WRF’s investments are directed to bringing forward innovations that will improve people’s lives and enhance the success of Washington’s technology based startup companies.