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10/13/2011 07:01:00

$10 Million Gift Creates Partnership to Fuel Fundamental Research

Dow establishes long-term vision for innovation as founding member of Caltech's Corporate Partners Program

PASADENA, Calif.—In a strategic move to strengthen fundamental science and technology and foster transformational advances in renewable energies, the Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW) and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have established a $10 million partnership.

Through the gift—bolstered with funds from the Gordon and Betty Moore Matching Program—Dow, one of the world's leading chemical companies, becomes a founding member of Caltech's Corporate Partners Program. The program is designed to strengthen the connection between the Institute's pioneering research and industry's needs, resulting in science and technology breakthroughs that can more easily and directly reach the community and the world.

"These long-term partnerships—inaugurated so aptly by this continued collaboration with Dow—will seed the sorts of high-risk, high-return innovations in science and engineering for which Caltech is renowned," says Caltech president Jean-Lou Chameau. "It will not only fund great fundamental science, but will also help us translate our findings into a commercial arena more quickly and seamlessly than ever before."

Under the partnership, Dow will provide ongoing support for graduate student research through five endowed fellowships in chemistry and chemical engineering, as well as five endowed fellowships in energy science. It will also provide Caltech's Resnick Sustainability Institute with funding over the next five years, helping to advance cutting-edge, proof-of-concept ideas with the potential to rapidly produce commercial technologies.

In return for its investment—which includes a rare, long-term corporate commitment that will be realized through endowments—Dow will have the opportunity to collaborate with an array of world-class faculty and student researchers.

"It is vital that we support academic research to ensure universities can continue the tradition of excellence in chemical engineering, chemistry, and materials science to address the needs of our industry and the world," says William Banholzer, chief technology officer at Dow. "Excellence in scientific education and the development of innovative solutions go hand in hand."

"Dow appreciates that you have to invest in something if you want to make change happen," says Hanisch Memorial Professor and Professor of Chemistry Jacqueline Barton, chair of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Caltech. "Outstanding research is under way at Caltech, and the best way for Dow to be involved with that work is to invest. The dividends from its investment will be realized over generations."

Dow's gift builds upon a history of collaborative efforts with Caltech. Both Dow and Caltech have demonstrated a strong commitment to developing sustainable solutions for the creation, storage, and distribution of energy, and both understand the crucial role that fundamental science plays in informing game-changing applications.

"Caltech is a model partner," says Theresa Kotanchek, vice president for sustainable technologies and innovation sourcing at Dow. "Together our research teams are uniting to advance fundamental science and simultaneously building and validating scalable prototypes. The pace of our progress is truly record setting."

In 2009, Dow chose Caltech as a partner in a four-year solar-research initiative that was one of the company's largest externally funded research agreements. This agreement has furthered exploration of earth-abundant materials for solar-energy applications, and also established Dow's first endowed graduate research fellowship for students in Caltech's Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.

Through this newest partnership, Caltech researchers—and, by extension, Dow—will tackle a "broader portfolio of renewable energies and technologies," says the Resnick Sustainability Institute's director, Harry Atwater, who is Howard Hughes Professor and professor of applied physics and materials science at Caltech. The Resnick Institute's faculty currently pursues research focused on a vast spectrum of topics, including fuel cells, alternative wind power, solar photovoltaics, energy-storage materials, and energy sequestration.

The Resnick Sustainability Institute receives a significant portion of the funding in the agreement. Through the new Dow Chemical Company Bridge/CI2 Innovation Program, financial support will be used to further promising graduate and postdoc research that has the possibility of creating licensable technologies and start-ups. The graduate research fellowships in energy—renewable for up to two years—will help advance clean-energy goals.

"I am excited to see Caltech's efforts materialize in a broad-based manner," Atwater says. "We hope to see this partnership grow to include others as we continue to magnify and amplify our efforts so that we can have a greater impact."

More information about Dow's industry-leading partnership with key academic institutions in the United States can be found at

Written by Shayna Chabner McKinney