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From Bench to Market

RAIN Grants Help Entrepreneurship Take Flight.

FlightA biodegradable version of plastic film used in packaging. A mushroom that stays fresh longer. A biomedical foam to help wounds heal. A diagnostic test to help dairy farmers become more profitable. These are the promising new technologies that earned four faculty researchers grants of $75,000 from the college to help them transform research projects into viable products on the market.

The college’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program awarded the Research Applications for Innovation grants—known as RAIN grants—to provide financial support that will help the researchers realize the commercial potential of their work. The grants are designed to promote innovation and economic development by encouraging the transfer of technologies to existing and start-up companies.

“We are pleased that faculty continue to bring research forward that has the potential for commercialization,” said Gary Thompson, the college’s associate dean for research and graduate education. “This is exactly what the RAIN grant program was designed to encourage. Four projects were selected from a very competitive pool highlighting the potential to advance economic development through research in our college.”

This year’s recipients of a college RAIN grant include Jeffrey Catchmark, associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering, who is developing an environmentally friendly coating to replace petroleum-based coatings on food packaging. Catchmark also is working with trauma surgeons in the Department of Surgery at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center/College of Medicine to develop a starch-based foam to help stop bleeding and promote clotting and healing of wounds ranging from surface cuts to deep body wounds.

Another RAIN grant recipient is Troy Ott, professor of reproductive physiology. Ott has developed and patented a diagnostic test to tell dairy farmers within 18 days whether an insemination failed, instead of after 30 days, thus saving farmers valuable time and money. Finally, Yinong Yang, associate professor of plant pathology and environmental microbiology, has developed an anti-browning mushroom with an extended shelf life.

—Lisa Duchene