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First SCOR grant awarded to faculty from Penn State Smeal, College of Engineering

September 11, 2017

The inaugural monetary award in the Smeal Commercialization of Research (SCOR) Grant Program demonstrates the power of research collaborations across Penn State University. 

As awardees in the Penn State Fund for Innovation program, Hui Zhao, associate professor of supply chain management in the Smeal College of Business, and Soundar Kumara, Allen E. Pearce and Allen M. Pearce Professor of Industrial Engineering, will share $30,000 provided by the FFI, Smeal, and the College of Engineering. These funds will be used over the next 12 months to help with: 

  • The development and demonstration of a commercially viable product or offering based on their research.
  • Evaluating the market potential of the proposed offering through a market viability assessment by Smeal’s Farrell Center for Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
  • Work to identify and protect related intellectual property with assistance from the Penn State Office of Technology Management. 

“Smeal’s ‘proof of relevance’ activities have been an integral part of the Penn State Fund for Innovation since the beginning,” said Russell Barton, Smeal senior associate dean for research and faculty and Distinguished Professor of Supply Chain and Information Systems. “The SCOR program begins our support of moving Smeal faculty research to commercial success. It is particularly exciting that our inaugural project is collaborative with the College of Engineering.” 

The researchers propose to use their research to create a proprietary product or methodology that would help protect consumers from illicit online pharmacies and mitigate the negative consequences associated with their use. Their work could enable: 

  • Search engines to filter illicit online pharmacies from search results,
  • Social media platforms to prevent illicit online pharmacies from directly marketing to consumers,
  • Government regulators to quickly and efficiently identify online pharmacies engaged in criminal activity,
  • Pharmaceutical companies to avoid selling their products to illicit online pharmacies, and
  • Consumer advocacy groups and policy makers to better protect consumers by identifying which online pharmacies are legitimate and safe to use. 

At the conclusion of the initial funding cycle, the awardees are eligible to participate in Phase 2 of the Program. In this phase, award recipients develop a go-to-market strategy and work towards the launch of a commercial venture.  Phase 2 culminates with awardees presenting their commercialization plan to the Penn State Research Foundation Fund for Innovation Investment Board and pitching for early stage funding to launch a start-up company. 

The grant is being funded collaboratively by the Farrell Center for Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the College of Engineering’s ENGINE Program, and the Penn State Fund for Innovation. 

About the SCOR Grant Program
Reflecting the Smeal College’s commitment to “research with impact” and the University’s core values of discovery and community, SCOR provides funding and support for Smeal tenured faculty to commercialize their academic research. In doing so, SCOR expands the impact of Smeal’s research efforts and stimulates economic development in the commonwealth and beyond. Part of the University’s “Invent Penn State” strategic initiative, SCOR was led by Russell Barton, senior associate dean for research and faculty of the Smeal College Business, David Lenze, director of Smeal’s APEX Program, and Shawn Clark, director of the Farrell Center, in collaboration with the Penn State Research Foundation’s Fund for Innovation. For more information about the SCOR program, contact David Lenze at dlenze@psu.edu.

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