Published October 18, 2013
The Center for Assistive Technology (CAT), housed in the University at Buffalo (UB) SUNY School of Public Health and Health Professions, has received a $4.7 million competitive award from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitative Research (NIDRR). The 2013-18 award was announced as CAT celebrates its 25th anniversary and brings the total amount of extramural support generated by the center to about $100 million since its founding in 1988.
“The school and UB are very proud of the sustained accomplishments of CAT over the past quarter century,” says Dean Lynn Kozlowski, School of Public Health and Health Professions. “In the case of the work funded by this grant, the difficulty of moving valuable new products into the marketplace has long been recognized. CAT’s team has taken up this challenge and is working to address and resolve obstacles to the production and marketing of important new inventions that will assist disabled persons.”
Mr. Joseph Lane, director of CAT, notes that NIDRR sponsors research and development intended to generate socioeconomic benefits, “but like so many domestic and international programs, the projects fail to bridge the gap from laboratory to marketplace.” He says that scientists and engineers who design and test products for the disabled often are understandably focused more on the research than on commercialization. “That, however, does not prevent them from applying the due diligence necessary to align their work with the interests and requirements of corporations that have the required capacity and expertise to bring the products of their research to market,” he says.
Mr. Lane explains that as recipients of public funding, the sponsors and grantees share an obligation to apply methods and metrics to ensure the investment generates the intended beneficial results for individuals with disabilities. “Overall, the goal is to improve the performance of government programs that are challenged to deliver the promises inherent in public policies related to science, technology, and innovation public policies,” he says.