SSE Innovation Fund Launched to Help Ideas Become Reality

WINTER 2017 | Heather L. Hasselle

Wayne Reed

Wayne Reed, Professor
of Physics

The School of Science and Engineering is full of big ideas. Harry Quarls (E ’74) is committed to helping these ideas become reality. Recognizing the need to provide crucial support for promising early-stage research, Quarls has generously created the Tulane Innovation Fund. This fund will provide a stable framework and needed capital infusion for enhancing novel ideas and research into positive technology advancements.

These ideas emerge from the unique structure of the School of Science and Engineering and its talented faculty and students. However, sometimes these ideas are stunted by the barrier between early stage research results and sufficient proof of concept, which is needed for those results to attract the investment necessary to get a product to market. The Tulane Innovation Fund helps build the financial bridge from concept to product.

“I saw a gap for funding,” Quarls says, “there was a need for seed capital to move from concept to prototype. I realized I had the ability to close that gap. I hope that this will be the catalyst for successful businesses.”

The fund promises that if any project is highly successful at commercialization, the original grant amount will be paid back into the fund from licensing revenues received and a small percentage of the ongoing royalty stream (if any) will return to the fund to enable its use for future projects.

The Tulane academic community has a strong desire to make a positive difference in the world through technology. Early evidence of a successful spin off from the School of Science and Engineering is Fluence Analytics, developed from the Murchison-Mallory Chair of Physics Wayne Reed’s research. Quarls realized that the advancement of the technology into commercialization would have greatly benefited from the Innovation Fund, but moving forward the opportunity for new venture support exists.

“The Innovation Fund fills a crucial gap that academic commercialization often face,” says John Christie, the executive director of the Office of Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Development. “With Harry’s generosity, we can now help students and faculty develop their first prototype, which allows them to present it for the next round of funding or to a company that might want to license it.”

Quarls says he hopes that people will be inspired to give to the fund to support moving Tulane and its high-impact research closer to finding solutions to challenging problems. “I hope others will contribute out of confidence in the university and the students.”

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