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Announcing the 2016 Illinois Proof-of-Concept Program Award Recipients

The Office of Technology Management (OTM) is pleased to announce the 2016 awardees of the Illinois Proof-of-Concept Funding Program (I-POC). I-POC facilitates development projects that demonstrate an innovation's market viability to potential investors and partners. 


2016 I-POC Award Recipients:

Top row from left: Angela Kent, Andrew Leakey, Jean-Pierre Leburton and Lav Varshney 

Bottom row from left: Stephen Long, Lissette Piedra, Jacob Sosnoff, Rachel Whitaker and Patrick Degnan


Angela Kent and Andrew Leakey
Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology  
Recurrent Co-selection of Plants and Associated Microbiomes: A Method for Identifying Plant-genetic Markers of Beneficial Microbe Recruitment, enabling the development of new crop varieties to recruit beneficial microbes and improve plant productivity.


Jean-Pierre Leburton and Lav Varshney 
Beckman Institute for Advanced Science & Technology
Machine Learning for Nanopore Bio-Detection, using machine learning to enhance the sensitivity and detecting resolution of bio-­molecule structure and composition by using solid-­state nanopore technology with advanced two-dimensional materials. 


Stephen Long
Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology
Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency and Productivity in Plants with Faster Photoprotection, using biotechnology to create plants having improved photosynthetic efficiency and ultimately higher yields. 


Lissette M. Piedra
College of Social Work
Overcoming Language Barriers: Vida Alegre App Development, developing a mobile application that provides a self-guided counseling program in Spanish to help Latinos with limited english proficiency access mental health services. 


Jacob Sosnoff
College of Applied Health Sciences
Smart-Phone Based Fall Risk Assessment and Prevention, developing an app that uses sensors for measuring postural sway and for recording environmental fall-risk factors to prevent falls among older adults. 


Rachel Whitaker and Patrick Degnan
Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology
CRISPR-capture: Microbiome Surveillance Method, developing a method to enable discovery and surveillance of antimicrobial resistance.

Proof-of-Concept Funding Works

The I-POC Fund is made possible by contributions from colleges and units across campus and matching funds from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.

Since 2009, Campus proof-of-concept funding has helped enable:

  • 11 startup companies;
  • $50 million in venture and angel funding; and
  • $2.55 million in SBIR/STTR funding and other government funding
For more information

For more information, please visit or contact Nicole Nair at