Investing in the Next Generation of Energy Efficiency

Research
Thursday, June 9, 2022

Faculty at UC Santa Barbara seeking to develop breakthrough energy-efficient software will have the opportunity to receive seed funding thanks to a new $450,000 gift to the College of Engineering’s Institute for Energy Efficiency (IEE) from the Investment Group of Santa Barbara (IGSB). The firm offers early-stage investments to companies with outstanding business models and institutions pursuing high-reward research. The IEE is dedicated to cutting-edge science and technologies that support a more efficient and sustainable future. The institute relies on the strength of the university’s world-class research in electronics, materials, photonics, computing and systems architecture, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML).

“On behalf of the Institute for Energy Efficiency and the College of Engineering, I’d like to express our deepest gratitude to the Investment Group of Santa Barbara for this gift and their long support of UCSB,” said IEE director, John Bowers, a distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering and materials. “Seed grants are an essential step for the creation and delivery of high-impact solutions to improve efficiency. We are honored that the Investment Group of Santa Barbara has been inspired to support our faculty and their pursuits of discovery.”

The IGSB Software Impact Grant Program will support research for energy-efficient software, including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Energy-efficient computing and communications are one of the institute’s three main research thrusts. IEE researchers have already been attacking fundamental issues of computing and communications to reduce the energy footprints of data center computing, moving data within and between data centers, and training and executing AL/ML models. Projects awarded IGSB grants will receive one-year of funding in the range of $50,000-100,000. Funding for subsequent years may be possible, based on the progress made during the first year.

“We are proud to support the pioneering efforts of the Institute for Energy Efficiency,” said Michael Duca, an IGSB partner.

“Their research has provided a foundation for numerous energy-saving innovations that have improved our quality of life,” said Reece Duca, a UCSB alumnus, member of the IEE’s Director’s Council, and managing partner of IGSB. “We hope our gift sparks a new wave of leading-edge ideas and drives the next generation of significant advances in energy efficiency.”

The IGSB grants are modeled after the already successful IEE Research Seed Grant Program, which, since its launch in 2019, has supported ten research projects with up to $50,000 apiece. A committee selects projects that aligned with at least one of the institute’s key research thrusts, which in addition to computing and communications, include the food-energy-water nexus and smart societal infrastructure. Seed funding is intended to produce preliminary results that the scientists can use to apply for major external funding to expand their research projects.
The IEE will formally announce a call for applications for the IEE Research Seed Grants and IGSB Software Impact Grant programs later this month. Applications will be due no later than August 1. Multiple grants from each program will be awarded in the fall. For more information, visit iee.ucsb.edu or contact Mark Abel, the IEE’s associate director, at markabel@iee.ucsb.edu.