A Collaborative Funding and Research Tool for Industrial Design Faculty and Business Entrepreneurs
Don Herring, Assistant Professor | Arizona State University
This paper will be of great interest to industrial design faculty who are
• starting their research agendas and need grant funding;
• desiring research and practice that leads to a viable commercial product outcome;
• willing to search for and collaborate with academic colleagues in other disciplines who are working on high-tech topics;
• willing to utilize existing or develop new contacts with small businesses whose technology research objectives coincide with the needs of the US federal government.
The objective of this paper is to share this author’s funding experiences using the Small Business Innovation Grant (SBIR) as a way to develop a tenure-based funded research agenda at Arizona State University (ASU). Finding funding as an industrial designer has historically been very difficult and when a source is discovered, very competitive. The SBIR funding vehicle has provided research opportunities in several distinct ways.
The first project started as a cross-campus collaborative teaching effort to develop a low-cost prosthetic arm for economically disadvantaged regions of the world (Herring 2001). When the project caught the attention of a product development company, an SBIR Phase I grant was applied for. The grant was awarded in 2003. The second example was a project in which a local small business had discovered a problem with public bus transportation accidents and continuing wheelchair user injuries. An SBIR grant was awarded to the small business, and ASU was brought on as a subcontractor to perform laboratory and field research (Herring and Wolf 2003).
The third example involved participation in the development of a product from the very start. In time, an SBIR grant was funded, and a small stipend was given by the business directly to the researcher (Herring and Schultz 2003). Each funding approach was unique and will be described in greater detail in the following sections of this paper.