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NDSU researchers receive Venture Grant funding

Two NDSU research projects have received Venture I Grants through the North Dakota Centers of Excellence Commission. The funding is part of a total of $1,143,489 in research-based grants approved by the commission May 27.

Zhibin Lin, NDSU assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, and department colleagues received a two-year $100,000 Venture I Grant to develop a network of sensors to assess pipeline damage detection and assist in health monitoring.

The project is titled “Development of Intelligent Integrated Networks for Rapid Pipelines Damage Detection and Health Monitoring.” Lin and faculty colleagues Jinhui Wang and Na Gong aim to develop wireless sensor networks and on-board low-power high-performance data storage and data processing system on Unmanned Aerial Systems for rapid pipelines damage detection and health monitoring.

“Critical civil infrastructure, such as wind turbines, railways, bridges and pipelines, is a key lifeline as a network for North Dakota’s economy and society,” Lin said, noting the importance of the research. “Severe accidents of this critical civil infrastructure in recent years have raised attention to safety issues that could put people’s lives and the surrounding environments at high risk. Collecting on-site data and monitoring of these critical infrastructure, however, are inherently costly and difficult.”

He said the researchers anticipate the proposed technology will have a significant impact on the U.S. pipeline operations and safety. Lin, Wang and Gong also recently received the Ozbun Economic Development Award to support the study.

In addition, NDSU electrical and computer engineering researchers received a $100,000 Venture I Grant to refine the use of radio frequency to induce gene expression. The work of Dan Ewert, professor, and Ben Braaten, associate professor, has the potential to profoundly change the biotech and drug delivery fields, and revolutionize medical treatment.

“We are really excited to explore how electromagnetic energy, especially radiofrequency waves, that can be harnessed to treat diseases like cancer,” said molecular biologist Ben Brooks, who works with Ewert and Braaten. “The future of treating diseases like cancer is localized, inducible drug delivery. The exciting part of the research is the potential to deliver drugs to highly specific parts of the body without harmful side effects.”

The Venture Grant Program is designed to help move university-developed technology into the marketplace through startup or spinout companies. The program provides seed grants and matching funds to facilitate startup and spinout companies’ use of university technology.

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