Dr. Isabel Escobar, a Professor of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Kentucky, was recently awarded an I-Corps grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The I-Corps program encourages scientists to explore ways in which they can transform their research into entrepreneurial opportunities. According to the NSF, the I-Corps program “teaches NSF grantees to identify valuable product opportunities that can emerge from academic research, and offers entrepreneurship training to participants by combining experience and guidance from established entrepreneurs through a targeted curriculum…I-Corps programs help researchers translate discoveries into technologies with near-term benefits for the economy and society.”
Escobar’s work focuses on using bio-inspired membrane technology to make clean drinking water more accessible. “We would very much like to see cities, including developing nations, be able to benefit from having safe and accessible drinking water,” Escobar says.
In addition to Dr. Escobar, the project includes two other participants. Sneha Chede, a University of Kentucky Post-Doctoral Scholar, serves as the entrepreneurial lead, responsible for exploring the commercial landscape and market potential for their research. Lawrence Smith serves as the project mentor, bringing entrepreneurial experience and serving as the principal guide in determining the technology disposition.
Dr. Escobar joined the University of Kentucky in 2015 with research startup funding from the Kentucky NSF EPSCoR Program. She is a key research participant of KY NSF EPSCoR’s Bio-Inspired Membrane Technology research pillar.