Annette Hacker, director,
Office: (515) 294-4777
John Brighton, Vice Provost for Research, (515) 294-6344, firstname.lastname@example.org
Larry Johnson, Center for Crops Utilization Research, (515) 294-1061, email@example.com
Mike Krapfl, News Service, (515) 294-4917, firstname.lastname@example.org
Iowa State awards economic development grants to 11 research projects
AMES, Iowa -- Grants from the state's Grow Iowa Values Fund will support studies of new soy proteins for the food industry, biomass gasifiers for the ethanol industry, corn- and soy-based composites for the plastics industry and other projects with commercial potential.
Iowa State has awarded $975,773 of state economic development dollars to 11 research projects. The grants range from $49,380 to $162,717. They must be matched by the researchers and their project partners.
This is the second time Iowa State has awarded the competitive grants. This round attracted 38 researchers hoping for funding.
Review committees recommended the grant winners based on their potential to create Iowa businesses, create jobs, increase sales, improve products, license technology, collaborate with Iowa businesses or attract federal research funding.
"These 11 projects have clear commercial potential for the state of Iowa," said John Brighton, Iowa State's vice provost for research. "These projects demonstrate Iowa State's commitment to translating discoveries into viable technologies, products and services to strengthen the economy of Iowa."
Larry Johnson, the director of Iowa State's Center for Crop Utilization Research and a professor of food science and human nutrition, and Nicolas Deak, a post doctoral research associate for the center, won a grant of $162,717 to develop their process for separating the two major proteins in soybeans.
The food industry currently uses a mix of both proteins because the separation process is expensive. But Johnson said that compromises potential health benefits -- such as reducing heart disease -- associated with one of the proteins. It also compromises the unique food properties -- the gelling characteristics, for example -- of each of the proteins.
Deak studied the problem as part of his Iowa State doctoral thesis and came up with a simple and economical way to separate the proteins, making two new products. A provisional patent has been filed for the technology. There are also negotiations to license the technology with SafeSoy Technologies of Ellsworth.
Johnson said the Grow Iowa Values Fund grant will help researchers learn more about the protein products, conduct market research and produce samples of the protein powders for testing by food companies.
"Our goal is to bring new Iowa-produced food ingredients into the international marketplace," Johnson and Deak wrote in a description of their project.
And the economic development dollars are a big help.
"We're truly excited," Johnson said. "This idea of commercialization is having a profound impact on what universities do in the area of research. We feel we've always done good science. But we lacked the funding to move it to a commercial level."
State lawmakers agreed last spring to appropriate $5 million per year for 10 years to the Regent universities for economic development projects. Iowa State's share is $1.925 million for each of the 10 years. Iowa State will use as much at $1.325 million per year to support research projects with high potential for commercialization.
The other winners in this round of the grant competition are:
Iowa State has awarded $975,773 of state economic development dollars to 11 research projects that have potential to create or improve businesses, jobs, sales, products and technologies. The projects include development of a process to separate the two major proteins in soybeans, commercialization of gasifiers that convert biomass into a mixture of flammable gases, manufacture of hog feeders using plastics made from corn and soybean oil and treatment of fuel ethanol so it can be used by the beverage industry.
"We're truly excited. This idea of commercialization is having a profound impact on what universities do in the area of research. We feel we've always done good science. But we lacked the funding to move it to a commercial level."
Larry Johnson, the director of Iowa State's Center for Crop Utilization Research and a professor of food science and human nutrition