The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Office of Technology Management Announces Illinois Proof-of-Concept Program 2014 Award Recipients

The Office of Technology Management (OTM) is proud to announce the 2014 awardees of the Illinois Proof-of-Concept Funding Program (I-POC). I-POC enables development projects that demonstrate an innovation’s market viability to potential investors and partners.

2014 I-POC Award Recipients

This year’s I-POC awardees were selected from a stellar pool of 31 applications from colleges and units across the Urbana campus. The five selected recipients focus their research in varied areas of academia, ranging from electrical and computer engineering to chemistry to music to agricultural engineering.

  • Kaustubh Bhalerao, from the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences, for developing a Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN) testing service that is twenty times faster and provides more precise data than existing solutions. 
  • Stephen Boppart, from the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and the College of Engineering, for his Quantitative Pneumatic Otoscope, which uses optical coherence tomography (OCT) to visualize middle ear contents.  
  • Martin D. Burke, from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, for advancing a non-toxic amphotericin towards clinical candidacy by discovering a compound with the potential to become frontline therapy in the antifungal market. 
  • Andrew Singer, College of Engineering Professor and Director of the Technology Entrepreneur Center, for developing a high-speed underwater wireless communications system. 
  • Heinrich Taube, from the College of Fine and Applied Arts, for Harmonia, an innovative application, which aims to replace paper-based music theory instruction with an app that allows musical content to be created, edited, searched, annotated, and automatically graded.

The Selection Process

Recipients were selected based on their innovation’s potential for impact, both commercially and technologically. The highly competitive selection process required candidates to submit a pre-proposal, which was reviewed by an internal University committee, and a full proposal, which was evaluated by a multidisciplinary group of scientists, industry professionals, and investors.

Fund Participants

The I-POC Fund is made possible by contributions from colleges & units across campus and matching funds from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research. The Office of Technology Management is managing the I-POC Fund and is also working with campus advancement officers to create an ongoing and sustainable source of funding via donations from alumni. 

How I-POC Helps

With the objective of reducing business risk in the early stages of research development, the I-POC helps to bridge the development gap (also known as the “valley of death”), which is common when commercializing early-stage research. The University’s I-POC funding program advances discoveries and innovations on the edge of commercialization that require an opportunity to prove their commercial viability.

For More Information

Please visit the Office of Technology Management website ( for more information on the Illinois Proof-of-Concept Funding Program, or contact Meredith Walker at