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09.27.12: California Research Institute Launches International Innovation Initiative at UC San Diego

Partial funding for selected CSRO projects in 2012 will come from the International Innovation Initiative (i3), created with funding under an MOU agreement between Calit2 and the Korea Electronics Technology Institute (KETI).

There is a new home base for visiting researchers at the University of California, San Diego, and it also serves engineering and other faculty members who need international funding to help get new technologies closer to commercialization.

The International Innovation Initiative (i3) is part of the UC San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) and it will help drive its international agenda. Initial funding for i3 of $1 million annually for three years – which could eventually reach $5 million over five years – was a gift from the Korea Evaluation Institute of Industry Technology (KEIT) via the Korea Electronics Technology Institute (KETI).

“It is critical that the university find new ways of engaging with international partners in the government and private sectors to fund advanced research, especially in a time of decreasing state resources,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “This gift is evidence that even a high-tech economy like Korea’s can benefit from seeking out partnerships with world-class innovation centers such as Calit2 and UC San Diego.”

While the initial funding has come from Korea, i3 exists to broaden international participation in the initiative strategically, and to provide program infrastructure for ongoing projects. To that end, a central office in Atkinson Hall has been established with a program manager (Angela Chen) supporting i3’s program infrastructure design, outreach, and strategy, and a program manager (JJ Hwang) supporting i3’s inaugural visiting fellows from Korea, ongoing project management needs, and engaging dialogue with various countries to expand international collaboration.

Talks are already underway with research institutions and government agencies in Asia and Europe.

The California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) has announced the second round of its Calit2 Strategic Research Opportunities (CSRO) grant program. Faculty and research scientists at the University of California, San Diego are eligible to submit proposals for funding and in-kind support, with all proposals due no later than July 27, 2012. Winning proposals will be announced in August for one-year projects that will begin effective October 1, 2012.

While the primary source of funds for the CSRO program will remain Calit2’s largest industry partner, Qualcomm, Inc., some funding for specific projects awarded in 2012-13 may come from affiliated research centers at UC San Diego. These include the International Innovation Initiative (i3), a soon-to-be-announced program of visiting international fellows from foreign industry, research laboratories, and government institutions housed at Calit2.  Its inaugural year, i3 is funded by the Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE), Korea Evaluation Institute of Industry Technology (KEIT), and the Korea Electronics Technology Institute (KETI). The i3 group will be focused on four strategically identified labs spanning wireless HD, computer vision and robotics, renewable energy, power semiconductors, and automotive market analysis and policy.

The CSRO program will be open to all 335 UCSD faculty members who are academic participants in Calit2, as well as other senior UCSD researchers who are eligible to serve as independent principal investigators on extramural awards.

Indeed, Calit2 is urging newer faculty members to submit proposals. “Nearly half of the faculty recipients of CSRO awards in 2010 were newcomers to Calit2,” said program chair Curt Schurgers. “The CSRO program has become an important way to engage with faculty who share our vision and research agenda.”

Faculty who want to affiliate with Calit2 and submit a CSRO proposal can do so by signing and submitting an online Investigator Agreement at http://csro.calit2.net.

Researchers are invited to propose projects that fall under one or more areas spelled out in Calit2’s strategic vision, adopted in 2010. These include four application thrusts (culture, energy, environment and health) and four enabling technologies (wireless, photonics, cyberinfrastructure and nano-microelectromechanical systems). Calit2 says it will be particularly receptive to proposals in the health and culture arenas, and ones which address both an application thrust and an enabling technology.

“Wireless health is a good example of a sector where technology development promises to yield important benefits for society at large,” said Ramesh Rao, director of the UC San Diego division of Calit2. “We are looking for the faculty to propose high-impact, near-term projects that also achieve high marks in the technical review process.”

The 3-to-5-page proposals must be submitted electronically through the online CSRO Proposal Upload manager. Most winning proposals will be awarded a combination of cash and in-kind support, e.g., including access to Calit2 technical personnel, equipment, lab space, and services. Faculty interested in submitting a proposal are urged to read the Call for Proposals, background information on Calit2 research, its  Strategic Vision, and other aspects of the CSRO program, including frequently asked questions.

In its 2010 Strategic Vision, the institute targeted four major application thrusts: energy, the environment, health and culture. The plan also calls for continued investment in enabling technologies. While the current Call for Proposals emphasizes health, culture and enabling technologies, investigators are also welcome to submit proposals centered on energy or the environment, particularly if they are related to work in wireless, cyberinfrastructure or other enabling technologies.

Calit2 has invested heavily in personnel, equipment and services, and the CSRO program allows the institute to allocate a portion of those resources to new projects that are liable to produce proofs of concept, early prototypes, research findings and early-stage successes that may position a CSRO grantee to go after much larger federal grants in future.

All proposals will be judged on five criteria: scientific and technical merits; relevance to Calit2’s strategic thrusts and enabling technologies; cost realism against the proposed effort; use of existing Calit2 infrastructure or the project’s potential to contribute to that infrastructure; and the likelihood of achieving pre-identified measures of success.

Proposed projects under the program are not required to be multidisciplinary, but projects spanning different technical areas, departments, divisions or schools at UC San Diego will receive preference.

Total funding for the new round is expected to exceed the $700,000 level of support awarded to a total of 19 winning projects in the inaugural May 2010 round of CSRO grants.

Media Contact:
Doug Ramsey, 858-822-5825, dramsey@ucsd.edu

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