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Ocean Insight 2021 Grant Program - Applications Due by December 21, 2021

  • Education & Academia

Our popular Grant Program is back for an encore, with grant awards of up to $20,000 in Ocean Insight equipment possible. Review the program details, prepare your proposal for submission, and apply.

The 2021 Ocean Insight Grant Program encourages the use of spectral technologies in support of research promoting a safer, cleaner, healthier world. Apply through Dec. 21, 2021, to earn awards ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 USD in Ocean Insight products. Program semifinalists and grantees will be announced in early 2022.


Researchers from start-up companies and local, state and federal institutions including colleges, universities, research centers and regulatory agencies are eligible.

Grant Program Awards

Ocean Insight will make awards of up to $20,000 USD in equipment donations:

  • Ocean Imagination Awards – up to 4 finalists at $5,000 in products
  • Ocean Merit Awards – up to 2 winners at $10,000 in products
  • Ocean Inspiration Award – up to 1 winner at $20,000 in products

Also, Grant Program awardees are entitled to enhanced technical support via a single Fixed Insight Study from our Ocean Lab Services team. This support is subject to the same criteria governing the use of equipment donations (see Other Considerations below).

Important Dates 

  • Program launch: Oct. 1, 2021
  • Application deadline: Dec. 21, 2021
  • Semifinalists announced: Jan. 21, 2022
  • Award recipients announced: Feb. 4, 2022


Your application must be submitted no later than Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021. When submitting your application, you agree to the following terms:

  • Permission for Ocean Insight to generate publicity relating to the application and/or award including press releases and case studies.
  • Permission for Ocean Insight to contact the applicant(s) about our products and services.

Successful Applications 

Ocean Insight collaborates with customers to discover, refine and deliver new approaches to solving the world’s most pressing problems with spectral technologies. Our expert Grant Program judging panel will evaluate applications based on their technical merit, innovation, and advancement of initiatives that improve health, safety or the environment. Recent grant awardees are developing new approaches to cancer detection, to atmospheric monitoring of natural aerosols, and to methods for plastic waste remediation.

Other Considerations 

  • No purchase is necessary to apply for an award.
  • Ocean Insight reserves the right to exclude applications that fail to meet the program criteria as outlined in Successful Applications.
  • There is no limit to the number of entries that may be submitted.
  • Grantees have nine (9) months from the date of the award to order Ocean Insight equipment and/or apply the enhanced technical support provision. Grantees may not disperse the equipment award over more than two (2) transactions. Restrictions may apply to items affected by unforeseen global supply issues.
  • Products selected by grantees will be valued in USD at the standard retail pricing in effect when the award is redeemed.
  • Ocean Insight is not responsible for any local, state or federal taxes resulting from the award.
  • In addition to the product donation, and as part of the donation transaction only, Ocean Insight will provide to grant winners standard UPS ground shipping at no charge. Expedited shipping, and customs fees or duties, are not part of the award.
  • Ocean Insight reserves the right to change the terms or conditions of the program at any time, for any reason, without prior written notice.

Apply Now!


Ocean Insight 2020-21 Grant Program Winners

Arif Cetin, a researcher at the Izmir Biomedicine and Genome Center in Turkey, discusses his work developing an optical sensing platform to monitor the effectiveness of drug therapies for cancer treatment.

Santiago Arellano, a researcher in the Department of Space, Earth and Environment at Chalmers University of Technology, discusses his work measuring the properties of aerosols, fine particles and droplets suspended in air.

Kelsey Sakimoto of Biko Biolabs, a 2020 Ocean Insight Grant Program winner, discusses the challenges of environmental plastic pollution. Read on the recent interview we enjoyed with Biko founder.

Apply for the 2021 Grant Program

Previous grant winners have taken on important issues, including reducing plastic waste and developing more effective cancer therapies. What would you do if you won an Ocean Insight Grant Program award?

Watch the Virtual Awards Ceremony

The winners of the 2020 Ocean Insight Grant Program share insights about their work in this awards ceremony video.

Gold Medal for the Ocean Inspiration AwardOcean Inspiration Award - $20,000 in Ocean Insight Products

Izmir Biomedicine and Genome Center, Izmir, Turkey
Submitted by Arif Engin Cetin
Improving therapeutic response of cancer patients to drug treatments

Many cancer patients are cured, and their life quality improved, thanks to new treatment options. However, completely curing this disease is very challenging, due to the resistance of cancer cells to drug therapies. To address this, a plasmonic functional assay platform will be developed that can determine therapeutic responses of cancer models at single-cell sensitivity levels.

Traditional techniques determine drug treatments via monitoring the response of patients to such drug treatments; i.e., their decision-making mechanism is very slow. Given the fatality of this disease, making a quick decision is extremely important. The platform will expedite the duration of drug selection for different cancer types, and eliminate unnecessary treatment options, by monitoring responses to a range of drugs simultaneously and all in the same platform. This feature will help doctors choose proper standard-of-care drug therapies with high accuracy, thus increasing the survival rate of patients.

Learn more about Arif Cetin's work in this Q&A.


Silver Medal for the Ocean Merit AwardsOcean Merit Awards - 2 winners, each receiving $10,000 in Ocean Insight Products

Amplified Sciences, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA
Submitted by
Diana Caldwell and Rajesh Ummadisetti, Ph.D.
Improving pancreatic cancer diagnostics

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth deadliest cancer in the U.S. Early detection is key for patient survival. Pancreatic cysts represent precursors to ductal pancreatic adenocarcinomas presenting a significant risk if undiagnosed. We are developing a novel assay for patients with incidentally detected cysts (1M detected annually) that identifies cancer earlier thus saving lives and improving health by reducing unnecessary surgeries.

Current standard of care competitors are plagued with low accuracy and limitations due to large sample size requirements. We are developing a highly accurate diagnostic that both rules out disease (mucinous vs. non-mucinous) and distinguishes between high and low-grade dysplasia using unprecedented small volumes of fluid. Our chemometric platform also enables the multiplexing of biomarkers (genomic/proteomic/functional markers).


Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden
Submitted by Santiago Arellano
Assessing the impact of aerosols and cloud particles on the atmosphere

Despite being present in small amounts, particles have a disproportionally large effect on radiative balance in the atmosphere, where the imbalance causes climate change, or in the quality of air, which has profound effects on human health.

Particles are characterized by composition, shape, size and mass. Information about these characteristics is encoded in the way that particles scatter out radiation and change the polarization of light. Recent progress in spectropolarimetry allows us to build relatively simple systems to obtain general characteristics of particles. We aim at developing such a system with a focus on forest fires and volcanic eruption clouds. They can then be deployed in existing gas monitoring networks, such as NOVAC (led by our group), present in more than 40 volcanoes of the world.

Learn more about Santiago Arellano's work in this Q&A.


Bronze Medal for the Ocean Finalists AwardsOcean Finalists Awards - 4 winners, each receiving $5,000 in Ocean Insight Products

Biko Biolabs, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Submitted by Kelsey Sakimoto
Breaking down bulk and microplastic waste into carbon feedstock chemicals

Plastic pollution affects both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, with ~90% of recyclable plastics entering fragile ecosystems. Our work addresses this problem by providing a scalable, distributed solution to capture in-place and remediate all plastic waste through bulk oxidation, and charts a course toward remediation of persistent microplastics in the environment. The resulting product is a safe, ecologically friendly, biocompatible mixture of organic acids and alcohols.

The resulting plastic-derived mixture can serve as an organic carbon source for sustainable manufacturing through biological fermentation with applications in pharmaceuticals, biomaterials (biopolymers), alternative proteins (cultured meat), and more.

Learn more about Kelsey Sakimoto's work in this Q&A.


Northwest A&F University, Xianyang, Shaanxi, China
Submitted by
Baofeng Su
Summary: Monitoring ecosystems to address environmental deterioration and safety issues

Deterioration of the ecological environment and food safety issues are major issues affecting the sustainable development of the world today. Efficient field ecology and crop monitoring systems play an important role in analyzing environmental changes.

Our plan is to develop a remote monitoring system that combines Ocean Insight sensors and Internet of Things technology, and uploads the remotely acquired spectral data to a cloud server wirelessly. This will reduce labor intensity while making it easier to build a huge ecosystem and food monitoring network, while providing programs and technical support for the development of ecological and food production monitoring based on big data. And provide help for the green, healthy and sustainable development of the world.


Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA
Submitted by Zi Jing Wong
Developing nanophotonics sensors for coronavirus detection

Conventional optical biosensors are large, non-portable, expensive, and have limited sensitivity due to a small shift of resonant frequency with the virus concentration. In contrast, our nanophotonic sensors exhibit exponential increase in sensitivity. Through the incorporation of coronavirus-targeting bioreceptors in our design, we can realize a highly sensitive COVID-19 viral detector.

The ability to detect coronavirus at an extremely low concentration level enables open space virus detection with unprecedented accuracy. In addition, our sensor is based on an optical waveguide array that can be manufactured on a chip, thus significantly reducing its size, weight, and cost. By combining with Ocean Insight’s low-noise and ultra-compact spectrometer, a truly affordable, portable and high-efficacy coronavirus detector can be envisioned.


Université des Antilles, Schoelcher, France
Submitted by Paule Salvin
Developing solutions for electrochemical depollution of wetland and aquatic areas 

Wetlands and aquatic areas are subject to chemical pollution related to the agricultural and maritime sectors. Research carried out in Martinique is developing solutions to remedy this through: electrochemical depollution of waters in organochlorine compounds, development of eco-compatible substances for anti-corrosion use, and recovery of invasive Sargassum algae.

We are developing an innovative device – a microbial fuel cell -- for the bio-electrochemical depollution of water polluted by pesticides, herbicides and pollutants. This technology is based on the combination of microbial and electrochemical degradation techniques for organic substances. In addition, bio-remediation can be coupled with renewable electricity production.

*Summaries have been edited for length and clarity. 

Inspiring Research Partners

Georgia Aquarium - USA

In this video, we explore how Ocean Insight and Georgia Aquarium team up to create better habitats by exploring light and its impact on aquatic environments

Ghent University - Belgium

Learn how Ocean Insight equipment is part of research efforts to make cataract diagnosis and treatment faster and more effective to reduce preventable blindness worldwide

Tracey Jones Graphic designer

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