Gap fund awards help get WSU innovations to market

By Alyssa Patrick, Office of Research

PULLMAN, Wash. – Wound healing, smart textiles, biodegradable hydraulic fluid and estimation of apple crops with a smartphone are some of the innovations that are closer to reaching the market thanks to the Commercialization Gap Fund (CGF) at Washington State University.

Thirteen faculty – representing the variety of technology development at WSU – recently received support from the third round of CGF funding.

Supported in part by the Washington Research Foundation (WRF), the fund gives researchers the boost they need to make it through the development and testing phase of commercialization. Thanks to additional funding from WRF this year, the WSU Office of Commercialization was able to nearly double the number of recipients.

Winners and their projects:

1. Haluk Beyenal: Electrochemical band-aid for wound healing
2. Hergen Eilers: Biodegradable hydraulic fluid for hydropower equipment
3. Karl Englund: Fire performance of recycled wind turbine composite panels
4. John Harkness: Home cage-based magnetic trolley for the automation of sleep disruption in rodents

5. Hanjo Hellman: Biotechnological platform for crop yield and stress tolerance improvement
6. Michael Kessler: Shape changing smart materials
7. Lei Li: Ultra-low-cost, mobile-point-of-care platform for high-throughput infectious -disease diagnostics
8. Weimin Li: Innovative 3D tissue matrix scaffold system for tumor modeling and drug screening

9. Hang Liu: Self-weighing, self-powered, smart sensing textile
10. Rahul Panat: Highly stretchable metallic interconnects for flexible electronics
11. Xiangming Shi: Cement-free binder using fly ash as the sole binder
12. Abhisesh Silwal: In-tree crop load estimation of apples with a Smartphone
13. Bernie Van Wie: Rapid low-cost miniature dual ionophore ion selective electrode biosensor for cells and proteins

Funding benefits ongoing

Several CGF recipients have reached major milestones in technology development thanks to the funding. For example, Lois James of WSU Spokane recently held her first counter-bias training ( for a police department with the portable simulator that CGF helped her develop.

Another 2015 recipient, WSU physics professor Matt McCluskey, credits the work CGF supported as a major reason he was able to win a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award last month.

“The CGF enabled us to build a prototype and demonstrate the new technology,” he said. “This went directly into the SBIR proposal.”

Read more about last year’s winners at and the 2014 winners at

Supporting a culture of entrepreneurship

The CGF is one of several resources WSU offers to support researchers’ efforts to translate their work into products and services that benefit the public. WSU also launched the Entrepreneurial Faculty Ambassadors (, a peer-to-peer mentoring network that matches seasoned faculty entrepreneurs with those still learning the process.

The WSU I-Corps Site grant ( is another resource that focuses on increasing student and faculty participation in entrepreneurial endeavors.

The gap fund is made possible thanks to a collaborative investment from WSU’s Office of Research and the WRF.


News media contacts:
Sita Pappu, WSU director of commercialization, 509-335-1120,
Alyssa Patrick, WSU Office of Research communications, 206-219-2427,