EDITOR'S COLUMN: A benefits-rich approach to bio-optics commercialization

To my mind, the excitement of biophotonics research is surpassed only by its transfer to the larger world, where it can benefit humanity. So I was grateful for the opportunity to join the industrial advisory board (IAB) and Annual Program Formulation Meeting of the Center for Biophotonic Sensors and Systems (CBSS) at Boston University (BU) on April 30, 2013. BU is the center's lead site, and University of California-Davis (UCD) is a partner site. After welcome statements by Tom Bifano, Director of the Boston University Photonics Center (BUPC) and CBSS, and Dennis Matthews, Director of both UCD's CBSS site and Center for Biophotonics Science and Technology (CBST), some of the member company representatives weighed in on their reasons for being involved with the center. A common theme was the value of networking and connecting with a pool of future employees: One member noted that it costs on average $60K to hire a new PhD employee, while CBSS membership allows them to "'test drive' students we may want to hire" for $50K—a relative bargain.

CBSS is an Industry & University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) of the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the only focused on biophotonics. Of the 61 I/UCRCs, roughly 1,000 program-engaged students graduated in 2011 and more than 30% were hired by member companies, explained Larry Hornak, Program Director, Engineering Directorate, in NSF's Industrial Innovations and Partnership Division.

The I/UCRC concept was developed to foster partnerships focused on industrially relevant fundamental research; strong industrial support of, and collaboration in, research and education; and direct transfer of university-developed ideas, research results, and technology to U.S. industry. Among I/UCRC industry members, 52 percent are large businesses, 26 percent are small, and 15 percent are federal members. These members leverage NSF's $16.4M in program funding to the tune of $130M.

According to Teri Behrens, a veteran NSF center evaluator, professors are sometimes wary because they fear the program will impose an overly commercial direction to their work when, in fact, just the opposite is true. "The process keeps the research basic—at pre-competitive levels," she said. Each of the member companies has proprietary ideas about where they will want to take the technology commercially.

The CBSS meeting was largely devoted to technology presentations by professors and board member evaluations of those projects. Consensus building on project selection involves voting, where each member gets 10 votes to distribute among research projects. Votes were tallied and followed by a closed meeting of the IAB, during which members reached a final recommendation for funding. As membership grows, more projects can be funded (each typically runs ~$100K)—so current members want newcomers to join. For more on the center, see www.bu.edu/cbss.

Barbara GoodeBarbara Goode
Editor in Chief

Get All the BioOptics World News Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to BioOptics World Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest news and information.

 Subscribe Now
Related Articles

Microscopy system harnesses virtual reality technology for image-guided neurosurgery

A microscope image injection system overlays virtual reality imaging onto the brain when viewed through the eyepiece during surgery.

Wearable light therapy device for hair loss receives regulatory approval in Brazil

The iGrow hair growth system, a wearable low-level light therapy device for treating hair loss, is cleared for use in Brazil.

Microscope module from Siskiyou

The CBH-1.0 microscope module allows users to customize most commercially available optical microscopes.

Raman scattering method can detect pluripotent stem cells with high sensitivity

An extremely sensitive technique for detecting pluripotent stem cells is at the scale needed for clinical applications.


Neuro15 exhibitors meet exacting demands: Part 2

Increasingly, neuroscientists are working with researchers in disciplines such as chemistry and p...

Why be free?

A successful career contributed to keeping OpticalRayTracer—an optical design software program—fr...

LASER Munich 2015 is bio-bent

LASER World of Photonics 2015 included the European Conferences on Biomedical Optics among its si...

White Papers

Understanding Optical Filters

Optical filters can be used to attenuate or enhance an image, transmit or reflect specific wavele...

How can I find the right digital camera for my microscopy application?

Nowadays, image processing is found in a wide range of optical microscopy applications. Examples ...



Twitter- BioOptics World

Copyright © 2007-2016. PennWell Corporation, Tulsa, OK. All Rights Reserved.PRIVACY POLICY | TERMS AND CONDITIONS