Circuits and electrical wires are connected with UA-themed tape.

UA Part of National Effort to Turn Research into Economic Growth

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama is one of 18 institutions across the nation chosen for the first-ever investment to accelerate the translation of academic research into solutions with societal and economic impact that grow the nation’s economy.

The United States National Science Foundation selected UA for a four-year, $6 million cooperative agreement through the new Accelerating Research Translation, or ART, program. It strives to empower universities to identify and build upon academic research with potential for technology transfer and societal and economic impacts, to ensure availability of staff with technology transfer expertise and to support the education and training of entrepreneurial faculty and students.

The UA Office for Research and Economic Development’s Office for Innovation and Commercialization will administer the award. UA’s program aims to increase technology commercialization supported by training and university led private-public partnerships.

UA has one of the fastest growing research enterprises in the nation. This latest NSF award builds upon recent momentum to engage with industry.

“At The University of Alabama, we have many pathways that foster innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit while enhancing student success and positively impacting society,” UA President Stuart R. Bell said. “The NSF ART program helps accomplish our goals of providing a premier education and increasing beneficial discovery.”

Mentor Partnership

Each ART awardee will be paired with a mentor university with an established translational research ecosystem. UA’s mentor, the University of Notre Dame, will advise on the staff and faculty expertise necessary to identify academic research with potential for economic impact, training and support for entrepreneurial faculty and students, and the institutional infrastructure needed to facilitate growth.

“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,” Sethuraman Panchanathan, NSF Director, said. “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.”

The investment at UA will result in increased inventions, patents, licenses, startups and other forms of technology commercialization. Training programs will foster growth of a globally competitive and diverse research workforce and advance the scientific and innovation skills.

“This project will have a transformative impact on our technology transfer operation and enable us to expand our innovation culture across our research-oriented faculty, and positively improve the economic climate of our reach through new businesses that are established through this innovation,” said Dr. Allen Parrish, interim vice president for research and economic development.

Educational Benefit

With the agreement, selected translation projects at UA with a high probability of commercialization potential based on market needs will receive support that matures the technologies and develops proof-of-concept prototype. These projects will be training vehicles for postdoctoral researchers and graduate students.

“This ART funding will help OIC train a new generation of graduate and postdoctoral students in translational research that generates societal and economic impacts through their work,” said Dr. Nghia Chiem, principal investigator and director of the UA Office for Innovation and Commercialization.

The ART program complements established programs at UA such as the Bama IP Commercialization Academy, EDGE Labs, the Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute and UA’s NSF I-CORPS site.

The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.


Adam Jones, UA Strategic Communications, 205-348-4328,