University of Georgia

University of Georgia

Faculty Innovation Fellows Program seeks new cohort

photo of UGA's Jenay Beer
Assistant professor Jenay Beer was one of two inaugural Faculty Innovation Fellows at UGA in fall 2019. (Photo by Peter Frey/UGA)

Industry partners play an important role in moving academic research discoveries down the pipeline. If university research doesn’t align with industry needs, it may never successfully reach the marketplace as a new product or a novel invention benefiting society.

UGA’s Faculty Innovation Fellows program bridges this gap by helping entrepreneurs and innovators fine-tune their research along industry priorities. The semester-long fellowship is currently accepting applications for its spring 2021 cohort and is one of several new initiatives launched by UGA’s Innovation District to foster innovation, entrepreneurship and experiential learning.

While the fellowship curriculum has moved to a virtual format due to COVID-19, fellows will be able to use the Innovation District’s new Innovation Hub to conduct socially distant meetings and outreach.

Each fellow spends several months becoming immersed in UGA’s innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem while learning how to evaluate the commercialization opportunities arising from their research. Fellows also receive up to $10,000 to support customer-discovery efforts, receive mentorship, build connections with industry, and continue developing their technology through courses and programming such as UGA Innovation Corps (I-Corps) and Startup 101.

“We encourage faculty researchers from any of the university’s colleges, schools and departments to apply,” said Ian Biggs, director of the startups program in Innovation Gateway and faculty innovation fellowship coordinator. “We’re particularly interested in supporting high-impact research opportunities in high-growth industries, such as artificial intelligence or drug discovery, where the university may have a smaller footprint.”

Jenay Beer, an assistant professor in the Institute of Gerontology who has a joint appointment in the College of Public Health and the School of Social Work, was one of two inaugural Faculty Innovation Fellows at UGA. Beer spent her fellowship investigating how health and assistive technology, including robotics, can be designed to support healthy aging in older adults.

“The fellowship is a unique opportunity to develop significant knowledge about industry.  This has enabled me to make connections with industry that have actively directed and funded my research endeavors,” said Beer. “The experience has introduced me to the people and resources that actively helps my research to move beyond the lab and into the world.”

Applications for the spring 2021 Faculty Innovations Fellows Program are due Dec. 15. Faculty researchers are required to commit a minimum of eight hours per week to the fellowship. For additional information about the program and application process, please visit https://t.uga.edu/5rJ.