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NI’s tools accelerate commercialization research for developing countries

Member PlanetNI
Member
‎02-22-2017 03:00 PM
‎02-22-2017 03:00 PM

A true differentiator for us as a company is our commitment to purposeful work. Our shared motivation to accelerate the pathway of discovery from research to innovation to commercialization truly endows our pursuits with a sense of purpose.

 

The culture encourages employees and partners to innovate and collaborate with top engineering minds from around the world, as well as develop skills through challenging and impactful work. Since 2013, we have partnered with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement Research (PEE... to bring cutting-edge scientific equipment, training, and support to research projects with commercial promise.

 

Small Investment, Big Impact

By making small investments in the right talent through the USAID PEER Science Program, we drive transformational change across developing countries including Ghana, Lebanon and Morocco.

 

The successful work of Dr. Antonie Ghauch, an analytical chemist at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, found great help through the program. As one of three sons of a security officer and teacher, Dr. Ghauch grew up in the ancient coastal city of Byblos (Jbeil), a UNESCO World Heritage Site and thought to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

 

For a large number of reasons, Lebanon’s water supply has continuously decreased for years, and Dr. Gauch strives to leverage his research to develop innovative tools and methodologies for treating wastewater in Lebanon.

 

After hearing about the USAID PEER Science Program, Dr. Ghauch collaborated with Dr. Richard Luthy of Stanford University to successfully submit a proposal for developing a tool that detects and treats pollutants in water. He was awarded a $167,000 USD grant, and, with the support of the USAID mission in Lebanon and USAID PEER Science Program partners such as NI, he achieved spectacular results.

 

In 2015, Dr. Ghauch was awarded another PEER Cycle 5 grant to support a project to improve water technologies and expand local capacity to monitor organic contaminants (OCs) and eradicate pathogenic bacteria in drinking water supplies.

 

Working closely with our Arabian branch office in Lebanon and the Planet NI Program, Dr. Ghauch and his team were able to collaborate with our engineers to precisely define their DAQ device and meet user interface development needs. We also put him in touch with a postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Ali Ammouri, a LabVIEW-certified professional. Dr. Ammouri’s LabVIEW proficiency and our engineer consulting and technical support played an important role in the overall project.

 

“Using the latest technologies in instrumental analysis and spectroscopic development is crucial,” Dr. Ghauch said. “Fields such as environmental science, forensic science, counterfeiting, and security require rapid, accurate results. NI’s products and services [were] our best choice to detect unique chemical properties in suspected media.”

 

Success in Many Forms

In an earlier article published by USAID, Dr. Annica Wayman, division chief of Research Partnerships for Development at the Global Development USAID took note of some of the primary obstacles to innovation.

 

“A major hurdle [in developing countries] to driving local innovation is the lack of resources and partnerships,” she said. “Enabling and empowering societies to harness the power of innovation requires strategic partnerships that can transform development.”

 

After struggling to get a substantive patent in Lebanon, Dr. Ghauch leveraged the USAID PEER Science Program partnership with NI to file a patent application in the United States in January 2015 for his smart anti-counterfeiting system, and is now in discussions with companies that have expressed interest in this technology.

 

Independently, Dr. Ali Ammouri, used the skills gained in Dr. Ghauch’s lab and his knowledge of LabVIEW to start a small business that helps solve some of the primary engineering challenges. We have partnered with his company Mekatronico along with Development Alternatives Inc (DAI), to implement solutions for the USAID-funded Lebanon Industry Value Chain Development project in the region.

 

The project has also contributed to strengthening engineering education, promoting economic development and environmental protection, and building capacity among Lebanese researchers.

 

About USAID PEER

The USAID PEER Science Program is designed to leverage federal science agency funding from NASA, NIH, NOAA, NSF, Smithsonian Institution, USDA, and USGS by directly supporting developing country scientists who work in partnership with current or new colleagues supported by these U.S. government agencies. Since its launch in 2011, USAID PEER Science Program has supported more than 200 researchers in over 45 countries, with a total investment of more than $50 million. The USAID PEER-NI partnership delivers cutting-edge scientific equipment, training, and support opportunities to PEER-funded research projects that join commercial promise and long-term development impact in USAID-priority countries. To learn more on how to get involved, please contact joanna.iacovelli@ni.com.