IGEM grant program still in building stage
In 2012, the Idaho Department of Commerce and other supporters of the Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission told lawmakers that IGEM would lead to big things. They said that directing millions of dollars in grants to institutions and businesses developing technologies with commercial potential would generate spinoff companies, create new jobs, bolster research and convince the world that there’s more to Idaho than potatoes.
Those jobs and spinoff companies haven’t come yet but are now on the way, Commerce Director Jeff Sayer says. The program was modeled after the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative, which Sayer says took more than five years to bear fruit.
In the meantime, the department soon will track partnerships between companies and universities as IGEM’s key metric. For example, the J.R. Simplot Co. provided funding and access to its crop fields to an Idaho State University research team that received an IGEM grant to advance drone use in precision agriculture.
“That’s the most important metric to track, and we’re seeing encouraging success in that regard,” Sayer says.