Ocean Optics opens up Blue Ocean Grants scheme for second year

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Ocean Optics has opened the applications period for the second year of its Blue Ocean Grants programme, which seeks innovative proposals that solve challenging problems and improve the world using optical sensing. Applicants from all disciplines are encouraged to apply before the 1 September 2012 deadline.

The programme is designed to facilitate open innovation and spur the development of new optical sensing technologies with potential for market commercialisation. The international programme is open to applicants from academia and industry around the world. 2011 winners had a diverse range of ideas with extremely high quality proposals ranging from novel spectrometer and spectral imaging architectures to emerging applications as diverse as low cost surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy, early prostate cancer detection techniques, and new nano-litre microfluidic chip architectures.

The Blue Ocean grants are divided into two phases. Phase I grants are issued to fund initial evaluation and development of ideas and technologies to the proof of concept phase. Phase II grants will be issued to nurture a proposed technology through proof of concept in a way that enables the potential of market commercialisation.

Last year the company originally planned to award up to 10 Phase I grants of up to $10,000, but expanded that number to 13 grants when the grant committee, made up of Ocean Optics chief technology officer Jason Eichenholz and independent photonics experts, felt strongly compelled to find funding for three additional worthy recipients. In addition, another seven strong submissions were awarded development grants. Development grant recipients were given or loaned Ocean Optics equipment to facilitate progression of their grant ideas, enabling them to be submitted to both last year’s Phase II programme as well as this year's Phase I process.

'The Blue Ocean Grants program is a unique combination of open innovation and crowd sourcing from all disciplines,' explains Eichenholz. 'As 2011 was our first year, we didn’t quite know what to expect and were elated by the quality and quantity of the applications from around the world. We’re currently evaluating the strong proposals from last year’s winners to determine who will move on to Phase II funding.'

Grant awards will again be determined by Eichenholz and an expanded panel of independent photonics experts, based on technical merit, potential commercial viability, and the ability to change the world for the better via optical sensing. The simple application asks two fundamental questions: What is the idea and how will it be implemented or tested?

To learn more about the programme and to apply, visit www.blueoceangrants.com