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USM’s Office of Innovation Management Receives NSF Award to Accelerate the University’s Translational Research Activities

Thu, 12/14/2023 - 08:08am | By: Gabriela Shinskie

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) in partnership with Jackson State University (JSU) and The University of Arizona (UA), has been awarded a $6 million cooperative agreement from the U.S. National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP) through its inaugural Accelerating Research Translation (ART) program. Read the NSF announcement here.

"NSF endeavors to empower academic institutions to build the pathways and structures needed to speed and scale their research into products and services that benefit the nation," said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. "The Accelerating Research Translation program in NSF’s new Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP) Directorate identifies, and champions institutions positioned to expand their research translation capacity by investing in activities essential to move results to practice."

Each ART awardee will receive up to $6 million over four years to identify and build upon academic research with the potential for technology transfer and societal and economic impacts, to ensure availability of staff with technology transfer expertise, and to support the education and training of entrepreneurial faculty and students. Each ART awardee institution will benefit from having a partnership with a mentoring institution of higher education that already has a robust ecosystem for translational research. A strong partnership between the awardee institution and a mentoring institution with an established translational research ecosystem is one of the unique features of the ART program.

“Accelerating translational research activities (TRA) is a priority at USM and this program aligns with the universities strategic plan to grow its research enterprise,” says Kelly Lucas, Ph.D.; Vice President for Research at USM. 

In support of this program, USM will use a systematic and data-driven approach to establish a more innovative research culture at USM. This change will foster greater TRA that prepare USM students for non-academic careers, accelerate access to university products and services, and strengthen Mississippi’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Achieving these goals supports Mississippi’s knowledge-based economy and promotes the comparative advantages of the state’s industries.

“USM is an active partner in Mississippi’s growing knowledge-based economy,” say, Brian Cuevas, Ph.D.; Director of the Office of Innovation Management at USM. "This award will not only support the development of innovation programs, but also fund seed translational research projects demonstrating the university’s capabilities to translate its research into technology-based startups.”

JSU, a fellow member Mississippi Research Consortium member, and of the NSF’s Mid-South I-Corps Hub, will assist USM in establishing inclusive, entrepreneurial training programs that facilitates the transformation of USM inventions from the lab to market. “Jackson State University is pleased to partner with USM on this significant project to accelerate research translation. Our efforts to create a strategic partnership around innovation, entrepreneurship, technology transfer, and commercialization bode well for our institutions' research agenda and the growth of emerging technologies.", says Almesha Campbell, Ph.D.; Assistant Vice President for Research at JSU. UA, nationally recognized for its very high TRA, will serve as USM’s mentor institution.

“A little over 10 years ago, UA had similar TRA to USM, since then UA’s Tech Launch Arizona (TLA) has created over 130 companies, and economic output in the billions,” says Doug Hockstad, Tech Launch Arizona Associate Vice President at UA. and “TLA will assist USM’s Office of Innovation Management in evaluating current gaps in innovation capabilities and assist in the development of an innovation road map to address unique culture and challenges inhibiting USM’s TRA.”

About Jackson State University: Jackson State University, founded in 1877, is a historically black, high research activity university located in Jackson, the capital city of Mississippi. Jackson State’s nurturing academic environment challenges individuals to change lives through teaching, research and service. Officially designated as Mississippi’s Urban University, Jackson State continues to enhance the state, nation and world through comprehensive economic development, healthcare, technological and educational initiatives. The only public university in metropolitan Jackson, Jackson State is located near downtown, with five satellite locations throughout the area. For more information, call 601-979-2121. 

About University of Arizona’s TechLaunch: Formed to drive the commercialization of emerging technology, TechLaunch has served over 200 tech focused companies and mentored over 300 aspiring entrepreneurs. Our focus is to screen, select and nurture early-stage tech ventures to accelerate their growth opportunities via mentoring, coaching, networking, and providing access to resources and capital. Its core objective is to generate Quality Deal Flow for early-stage investors and prepare entrepreneurs for the Investor presentation. To learn more please visit

About NSF ART: Launched by NSF's TIP Directorate, the ART program directly addresses a long-standing gap between academic research and the products, services and solutions Americans need. While ART seeks to build capacity and infrastructure for translational research at U.S. institutions of higher education, the program also aims to enhance the role of institutions of higher education in regional innovation ecosystems and effectively train graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in translational research, benefiting them across a range of career options. The program is authorized by the "CHIPS and Science Act of 2022." For more information, visit the ART program webpage.