The Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust Grant Program awarded $3.1 million to 26 science and technology research projects, including the “Advanced Research Grant” that promotes cutting-edge research in various areas of science and technology with $150,000 to each winner.
The Catalyzer Research Grant was also awarded, which conferred $70,000 to each recipient and aims to provide a first boost to scientists and help local researchers increase their chances of obtaining federal or private funds for their R&D proposals, the nonprofit said.
Among the institutions awarded this year are the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus with six winning proposals; the Mayagüez Campus with five proposals; Ana G. Méndez University with one proposal; the UPR Medical Sciences Campus with six proposals; the Arecibo Observatory with one proposal; Ponce Health Science University with four proposals; the Universidad Central del Caribe, with one proposal and two startup companies.
“We’re the only local grant mechanism that supports the development of science and technology research projects on the island,” said Andreica Maldonado, grants program manager. “The objective of our program is to boost the economy of Puerto Rico based on innovation, science and technology and — at the same time — reach a segment of scientists and entrepreneurs who find the program relevant.”
“In this way, we advance the Trust’s mission to invest, facilitate and foster the capacities of local researchers to turn Puerto Rico into a center of innovation recognized worldwide by developing, attracting and retaining scientists and new technology entrepreneurs to unleash world class competitive creativity,” she said.
Each proposal was evaluated by three field experts from more than 130 institutions in the continental United States, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa that have academic, scientific and technological expertise, Maldonado said.
Among the institutions that collaborated in the evaluation process were Cornell University, Harvard University, Princeton University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the MD Anderson Cancer Center, the Mayo Clinic, the University of Toronto in Canada, Universidad Complutense in Spain, the University of Cambridge in England, the Pasteur de Lille Institute in France, the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, the National Technological University of Argentina, and the Technological Institute of Delhi, among others.
“The Research Grants program is one of the strategic areas that serves as a catalyst for Research and Development to become a source of income for the country and highlight our Human Resource in the living sciences,” said Science Trust CEO Lucy Crespo.
“The results of this program have been measured with solid impacts and have allowed many researchers to scale,” she said.
Program funds have allowed promoting and developing research in the strategic sectors of biotechnology and natural sciences, renewable energy and/or clean technologies, aerospace, information and communications technology, medical devices, electronics, agriculture and environmental sciences have offered research opportunities, economical support; and have generated intellectual property, companies and patents.