Ocean Optics began its Blue Ocean Grants program in 2011, unsure at the time what the response might be. The program was so successful, another application period has been opened until September 1, 2012.
Jason M. Eichenholz, Chief Technology Officer at Ocean Optics, developed the grant program as a way to encourage the development of new ideas in optical sensing that have the potential for market commercialization. Funding of up to $100,000 is offered for various stages of development of optical sensing technology.
"Our mission is to change the world for the better via optical sensing," says Eichenholz, a senior member of SPIE. "We felt this would be a good way to do that and to get new ideas for future products or future companies. Last year, we didn't quite know what to expect and were elated by the quality and quantity of the applications."
The international program is open to applicants from academia and industry around the world. Last year's winners featured diverse ideas ranging from novel spectrometer and spectral imaging architectures to emerging applications such as low cost, surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy.
"A typical recipient might be a university professor or a small start-up company that has an idea," says Eichenholz. "It might be an entrepreneur who's had an idea sitting around for years and wants to go try and do something new. That's the beauty of this program. We won't know until we see them."
The Blue Ocean grants are divided into two phases. Phase I grants are issued to fund initial evaluation and development of ideas and technologies to the proof of concept phase. Phase II grants are issued to nurture a proposed technology through proof of concept in a way that enables market commercialization.
Modeled after the Gates Foundation system, the entire application for the grant is less than three pages. Applicants are asked to answer two fundamental questions: What is their idea and how will it be implemented or tested?
To learn more about the program and to apply, visit www.blueoceangrants.com, or call +1 727-733-2447