The Renewable Bioproducts Institute at Georgia Tech benefits from a substantial endowment, which began in 1929 to advance the forest products industry through leadership development and graduate research that addresses current and future needs of this industry. The endowment over the years has produced more than 1,500 graduate scientists and a growing body of scientific research. The research mission of RBI includes technologies that produce chemicals, biofuels and new materials from forest raw materials including nanocellulose, and the recently awarded fellowships have reflected this evolving portfolio.
Leveraging fellowships to explore new areas of research and to provide matching funds for Federal and other external funding is encouraged and can be a significant benefit to faculty.
Each year, the executive director of RBI issues a Request for Proposals (RFP) to Georgia Tech faculty. Fellowships are awarded to eligible faculty based on alignment with the strategic thrusts of Georgia Tech and RBI, and the research priorities of the forest bioproducts industry.
Specific focus areas within RBI’s strategic research thrusts are detailed in the RFP. Of particular interest this year within RBI’s three major areas, as described in the November 2018 RFP, are proposals related to replacement of petroleum-based materials with forest-based materials in applications with short-term useful life and, generally, with product lifespans appropriate to the application. Projects addressing process intensification and modularization for manufacturing and energy efficiency are also encouraged. Other areas of high interest this year include isolation of bio-based precursors for conversion to chemicals and materials; hybrid materials with forest-based and mineral components; and packaging performance improvement (not limited to development of high strength-to-weight ratio packaging materials or structures). Projects developing solutions that are likely to be scalable to industrial volumes and for which there are plausible pathways to commercialization are encouraged.
Selection of RBI Fellowship Proposals for Funding. Faculty research proposals and abstracts prepared for sharing with industry will be reviewed through the following process:
A. Proposals may be reviewed by peer faculty. Their assessments and recommendations will be compiled by the RBI executive director.
B. The proposed project abstracts will be distributed to RBI member companies for project ranking (reminder to proposing faculty: do not include confidential information). A compilation of responses will be prepared by the RBI executive director and shared with the Faculty Committee.
C. With these independent reviews and industry input, the Faculty Committee will recommend to the RBI executive director a ranked list of proposals for funding. The RBI executive director will finalize selection of projects for funding and will communicate the selection to the principal investigators, Georgia Tech, the RBI member companies, and the public through the RBI website and other media. The project titles and PI’s of winning projects will be announced on the RBI website.