Bridging the Research Gap

Achievement date: 
2014
Outcome/accomplishment: 

GridBridge formed in 2012 as a spin-off company of the Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management (FREEDM) Systems Center, a National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Center (ERC) based at North Carolina State University. The company pursues collaborative translational research projects in the electrical grid domain using a proprietary market- guided research model called PAIR (Program for Accelerated Industrialization of Research).

Impact/benefits: 

Under this distinct research model, product refinements are made consistently and directly with the help of end users through regular and frequent voice-of-the-customer sessions. GridBridge projects using PAIR benefit from guidance not only on the end product and desirable functionality, but also on the electrical, physical, and environmental application environments. PAIR team members also learn to address Design for Excellence principles that consider manufacturing, cost, quality, assembly, and serviceability.

Explanation/Background: 

Many promising early-stage technologies vanish into a “Valley of Death” if a bridge to market development and commercialization is not successfully supported. Typical research focuses on the foundational aspects of breakthrough concepts, but a gap still exists in mapping these ideas to consumer needs or demands in industry.

The GridBridge mission is to effectively translate research findings into pertinent and tangible products that will support the evolution of the electrical grid. Additionally, GridBridge’s commendable environment provides students with a real-life endeavor where learning and research coincide with professional development.

In conjunction with the FREEDM ERC, GridBridge aims to: reproduce and transfer the PAIR process across chosen research, resulting in a solution that is appealing to industry; train students in methods such as market-guided research, end-user applications, and industry-standard documentation processes that advance the students’ worth to industry and employers; and employ research to introduce tangible products that modernize the electrical grid. Examples of technologies the FREEDM Center has licensed to GridBridge include products that enable the adoption of green technology, optimize the flow of electricity on the grid, minimize costly capital-intensive overhauls, and ensure end-user satisfaction.