New Research, Funding Opportunities Open Idaho’s Possibilities

Thursday, October 14 2010


By Amanda Cairo

LEWISTON, Idaho – With a nod to the key role of how research serves both the state and society, the University of Idaho Board of Regents/State Board of Education today approved the university’s proposal to establish an applied research entity to be known as the University of Idaho Laboratory of Applied Science and Research, or LASR. The laboratory will be located at the University of Idaho Research Park in Post Falls.

“This is a unique opportunity for the university to not only further our research, but help bolster Idaho’s economy by providing new relationships and opportunities previously unavailable to us,” said Jack McIver, Idaho vice president for research and economic development. “We appreciate the regents’ forward-looking vision and their support.”

The applied research lab concept currently is being used to great success at other research institutions around the nation. Idaho’s LASR program will foster applied research and transfer technology, and create opportunities for research relationships and projects with the private sector that currently are difficult within the context of the university proper.

“The application of science and research to business and economic development has a proven record of effective success around the nation and will benefit not only the University of Idaho, but businesses and the state,” said Duane Nellis, University of Idaho president. “This is the spirit of entrepreneurism defined, as Idaho’s land-grant institution brings its research enterprise to bear on helping business and industry find solutions to issues and problems that can help society advance.”

Based on similar facilities across the country, LASR will be a non-profit entity affiliated with the University of Idaho, but with a separate independent administration. Its autonomy will allow it the flexibility and freedom to pursue projects and collaborations that are typically very difficult in a university setting.

“Our faculty and students will be at the ground level in new applied research, and they will be working in new jobs created by the entity,” said McIver.

The creation and operation of LASR is intended to be financially neutral to the university, meaning LASR will fund its own operations from research grant and contract revenue.

LASR will be a joint effort between the University of Idaho and the surrounding community. Its separate board of directors will give LASR more flexibility to work with external businesses and the ability to work with the intellectual property of other institutions, which would be nearly impossible otherwise.

Though this type of independent research park is new to Idaho, it has been implemented at several universities across the country. One of the oldest and most successful examples is the applied research park at Johns Hopkins University, which conducts hundreds of millions dollars worth of business every year. Another example closer to home – and the example on which LASR is modeled – comes from Utah State University. During the past 15 years, its Innovation Campus has grown into multiple buildings and it conducts approximately $40 million of business every year.

The University of Idaho’s current Post Falls Research Park has seen success – although not to Utah’s level – since its creation and LASR would plan to build upon that success. One example is the Center for Advanced Microelectronics and Biomedical Research, or CAMBR, which has produced many unique, powerful computer processing chips for NASA space missions during the past decade.

The Post Falls Research Park’s new direction does not mean an end to this success. In the future, CAMBR could be an important part of LASR, which could mean even more opportunities.

“Being a part of LASR would allow CAMBR many more options and opportunities to conduct different types of research and pursue different kinds of awards,” said McIver.
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About the University of Idaho

Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 130 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. The university is home to the Vandals, the 2009 Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl champions. For information, visit www.uidaho.edu.






About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit www.uidaho.edu.