Washington Research Foundation to invest in UW researchers, help commercialize innovations

washingtonresearchfoundationMore innovations coming out of the University of Washington could reach commercialization thanks to a new grant from Washington Research Foundation (WRF).

Xconomy reports today that the WRF plans to assign a $30 million, five-year grant that will help attract researchers to several programs at the UW — ranging from the Clean Energy Institute to the Institute for Protein Design — and encourage them to move their ideas from the lab to the real world.

Founded in 1981 as an independent, non-profit foundation, the WRF invests in the life sciences, information technology and physical sciences fields with a focus on supporting research and recruitment at Washington state institutions.

Other UW groups that will receive funding include The Institute of Neuroengineering and The eScience Institute, which will use the money to help fund a ”data science studio” on campus that will encourage collaboration among students and faculty in the data science field. The UW has already been bolstering its efforts in the data science field, with a number of new professors joining in the past few years.

UWEd Lazowska, founding director at the eScience Institute, said that each UW initiative has strong teams and are in major areas of focus for the university.

“The goal, with the help of WRF, is to establish true national leadership in each of these areas,” he said.

This past November, the UW received a similar grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation that will help the university explore new ways to harness the power of data to transform fields such as astrophysics, genetics and economics.

Lazowska said that the money from WRF going to the eScience Institute — $9.3 million, the highest amount awarded of the four programs — will fund the remodeling of its studio, allow the recruitment of more faculty members and provide a number of postdoctoral fellows who will offer “immediate impact.”

“I really can’t overstate the importance of this,” Lazowska said of the WRF grant. “It lets us integrate the various pieces we’ve assembled. It’s visionary on the part of WRF.”

Update: Comments from Ed Lazowska have been added to this story

  • Been There Done That

    UW desperately needs to redo their technology transfer procedures. They are living in the dark ages.

    • Nathan

      Would you care to explain?

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  • Someone Audit Them Please

    Way to write a blank check, $30m pi$$ed into the wind. The WRF apparently is too lazy to even pretend any longer that they are anything more than a fund raising agency for UW. What we will see for this money is a few pseudo-spin-offs to fund the research of tenured faculty, who have zero intention to enter entrepreneurial life.