December 08, 2006

Research park business gets environmental grant

by Sun Min

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- BioInsite, a research and technology commercialization firm located in the Southern Illinois Research Park, has received a Small Business Innovation Research Award for $100,000 from the National Science Foundation. Scientists will use the grant to analyze ground water for perchlorate, a major environmental contaminate.

BioInsite is a resident of Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center, the anchor of the research park. Located on the southern edge of Carbondale, the research park helps create high-tech and knowledge-based business investments and job opportunities in Southern Illinois.

Perchlorate is a major environmental concern for water supplies throughout the United States, with the worst problems identified in the west and southwest. For many years, manufacturers used it in a number of chemical products including propellants and explosives. Research has linked it to numerous thyroid problems and directly to neuropsychological fetal and infant development.

BioInsite is developing an inexpensive and accurate way to assess perchlorate in contaminated sites.

"I firmly believe in the technology we are trying to develop. The development of a rapid, simple and inexpensive technology for the determination of perchlorate's presence in water samples is of the utmost importance," said John D. Coates, BioInsite president and co-founder. Now on the faculty of the plant and microbial biology department at the University of California-Berkeley, Coates was an assistant professor of microbiology at SIUC. Coates founded BioInsite with General Manager Gary T. Miller.

"NSF Small Business Innovation Research Awards are very competitive and clearly this is a major recognition of BioInsite's potential," said Jeff K. Myers, senior technology transfer specialist and author of the proposal.

The potential reach of BioInsite's work is enormous. "Large environmental engineering firms, typically Environmental Protection Agency contractors, are very interested in using our product once available," Myers said.

Coates and Myers credit Kyle L. Harfst and Tracy D. Rone with helping to maintain a rewarding relationship between BioInsite and the research park. Harfst is interim executive director of the research park and director of the Small Business Incubator program and Rone is formerly with SouthernTECH, a center working to boost the technology-based economy in Southern Illinois.

For more information on BioInsite visit

Leading in the development of regional human and financial capital needed for economic and business development is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.