Hundreds of thousands of dollars are going to Idaho universities to help research make the jump from fascinating science to profit-making enterprise.
Idaho State University is getting $670,000 to create cutting edge materials for electronics and medicine.
Particle accelerators at ISU's Accelerator Center use extremely powerful microwaves to speed up electrons.
"And when you speed them to very high energies they cause changes in materials. They cause reactions that make isotopes for medicine,” ISU Physics Chair Douglas Wells said.
Much of the funding is going towards using accelerators to make an isotope called copper 67. The material could be used to treat some types of cancer and has been approved for medical trials.
"But nobody can make it. There's no reliable supply. If we succeed here, we're the first in the nation, we're the only ones in the nation. And 50,000 patients a year for certain kinds of cancer are at stake, and that's a lot of people,” Wells said.
Rather than simply publishing scientific papers, the states new IGEM program tries to give universities the investment to get more involved in commercializing this kind of research.
"It's designed to help build a way to transition academic research, the best academic research, into economic opportunities,” ISU Director of Research and Technology Transfer Richard Jacobsen said.
And this investment could bring a huge pay-off.
"I'm guessing a 100 fold return over the next ten years if things go well,” Wells said.
But those at ISU said making money isn't the point, for them it all comes down to the students.
"I think it's a very exciting opportunity for our students. And remember, our business is education,” Jacobsen said.