National Science Foundation grant names Princeton as innovation mentor for two universities

Written by
Catherine Zandonella, Office of the Dean for Research
Jan. 12, 2024

Princeton has been named a mentor university for two new regional National Science Foundation (NSF) programs based at nearby universities and aimed at accelerating the translation of university research into technologies that can be used by all.

Under the NSF’s first Accelerating Research Translation awards, Princeton will serve as mentor university for the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and the University of Delaware. Both institutions have strong science and engineering research programs and aim to grow their capacity to translate fundamental research into practical applications.

The program will provide $6 million per award over four years to NJIT and the University of Delaware to build opportunities for translating research into products, services and solutions, and to enhance their roles in the regional innovation ecosystem.

Mentor universities were selected based on their robust ecosystem for translational research, according to the National Science Foundation.

“Princeton’s involvement underscores the importance of partnerships and collaboration to raise the bar for everyone,” said Craig B. Arnold, Princeton’s vice dean for innovation and the Susan Dod Brown Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. “We are excited to collaborate with NJIT and the University of Delaware to drive forward an initiative that benefits the entire northeast region.”

In addition to promoting the region’s innovation infrastructure, the Accelerating Research Translation program will train graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in translational research, defined as research with the potential for immediate opportunities for economic or societal impact, thus providing a range of career options.

The designation of Princeton as mentor demonstrates Princeton’s impact on regional innovation, an impact that has grown significantly over the past several years with the creation of the University’s Princeton Innovation initiative.

The new program awards are part of the National Science Foundation’s Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP), which “harnesses the nation’s vast and diverse talent pool to advance critical and emerging technologies, address pressing societal and economic challenges, and accelerate the translation of research results from lab to market and society,” according to the National Science Foundation’s TIP website.

The awards mark the third NSF-funded TIP translational research program in which Princeton has been selected to participate. Princeton is the lead institution of the 10 universities in the NSF-funded Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Northeast Hub, and a lead institution with Rowan University in New Jersey of an NSF Engines Development Award focused on advancing photonics research, translation, education and workforce development.

The Accelerating Research Translation awards announced this week includes more than $100 million to teams at academic institutions across the nation.

“NSF endeavors to empower academic institutions to build the pathways and structures needed to speed and scale their research into products and services that benefit the nation,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. “The Accelerating Research Translation program in NSF’s new Technology, Innovation and Partnerships Directorate identifies and champions institutions positioned to expand their research translation capacity by investing in activities essential to move results to practice.”