Virginia Research Investment Fund awards $1.5M in second funding round


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Gov. Ralph Northam announced Wednesday that nearly $1.5 million in grant funding has been awarded from the Virginia Research Investment Fund in its second funding round.

The three-year grant will support the launch of the Commonwealth Center of Innovation for Autonomous Systems (C2IAS), a collaborative research center led by Virginia Tech with Old Dominion University as its partner. Staff of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) administered the grant competition, and members of the Virginia Research Investment Committee (VRIC) approved the project proposal at its meeting in Richmond yesterday.

In the first year, private collaborators will include Atlas-NA; Burton-LeRoy; Cambrian Design and Development; Procomm Aviation; Sanchez Engineering Services; SimIS; Textron; and UAVPro. The project has lined up over $2.2 million in matching funds as a condition of the grant award.

“Virginia’s colleges and universities enjoy a strong record of cutting-edge research, and we are proud to support the development of new technologies with promising commercial prospects, especially in the area of unmanned autonomous systems,” said Northam. “Innovative projects and public-private partnerships like these will help bolster the Commonwealth’s leading position in the unmanned autonomous systems industry, advance the application of these technologies, and reinforce our continued work to expand and diversify the Commonwealth’s economy.”

The Round 2 competition invited proposals for capacity-building projects at research centers in the strategic opportunity areas of small satellites, autonomous systems, big data, cybersecurity and life sciences. Each project was evaluated by a team of peer reviewers, entrepreneurs and investors to assess its potential for yielding commercial products in the long term. In August, Governor Northam announced an award of $1.5 million in grant funding from the Virginia Research Investment Fund (VRIF) in its second funding round.

“The Virginia Research Investment Committee is excited to support unmanned systems research in Virginia,” said Peter Blake, Director of the State Council of Higher Education and Chair of the Virginia Research Investment Committee. “The Center for Autonomous Systems will lead to new product development for first responders, infrastructure inspection, maritime systems, and more.”

In 2016, the General Assembly adopted legislation to support the Commonwealth’s academic research enterprise and to promote collaboration therein, creating the VRIF for research grants to public universities and the VRIC as the awarding body. Funds were appropriated for the research fund along with $29 million in bonding authority to support the purchase of research equipment or laboratory renovations associated with researcher incentive packages and the translation of research into commercial use.

For more information, visit the Virginia Research Investment Fund website.


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