In June, Georgia Tech received one of the largest grants in its 129-year history. As a result, a major research institute that for decades has been a leader in paper science has been relaunched as the Renewable Bioproducts Institute (RBI).
The grant, conveyed by the Institute of Paper Chemistry Foundation (IPCF), totaled $44.4 million and comprises more than three dozen endowment funds — most of them providing support for graduate fellowships and academic programs. The IPCF represents the legacy of the Institute of Paper Chemistry, founded in 1929 in Appleton, Wisconsin. Its mission was threefold: to provide postgraduate training for people who would direct research laboratories in paper and pulp mills across the country; to conduct quality research for the benefit of the paper industry; and to create and maintain a comprehensive library of paper science and technology.
The Institute relocated to Atlanta in 1989 and was renamed the Institute of Paper Science and Technology prior to its merger with Georgia Tech in 2004.
Now, in its newest incarnation and with a robust endowment, the Renewable Bioproducts Institute is poised to advance research and education in a broad range of biomaterials, biochemicals, and bioproducts, with a focus on using renewable forest raw materials in biofuels, pharmaceuticals, food and beverage packaging, health and hygiene products, and electronics.
"We are extremely grateful to the Institute of Paper Chemistry Foundation for entrusting us with this legacy," said Georgia Tech President G.P. "Bud" Peterson. "Through the Renewable Bioproducts Institute, we will maximize Georgia Tech's and the state of Georgia's strengths in sustainability and innovation to develop real-world applications and continue to educate future generations of leadership in the forest bioproducts industry."
RBI is one of 10 interdisciplinary research institutes at Tech, bringing together leading faculty who collaborate with industry and government, fostering economic development and applied technology. "We deeply appreciate the confidence IPCF has placed in us," said Norman Marsolan, executive director of RBI. "We will help a broader set of companies create economic opportunity through access to Georgia Tech's world-class experts in materials science, chemistry, and engineering as well as through access to talented engineering graduates familiar with bioproducts technologies."
The endowments that make up the grant originated with the Institute of Paper Chemistry decades ago. They have provided crucial support for more than 1,500 graduate students at Tech. RBI will continue that legacy of support for the most talented and promising students, and for the academic programs and infrastructure that will set the standard for the forest bioproducts industry.
"Georgia Tech is demonstrating its commitment to this industry, which is so important to Georgia and the nation," said George Lanier, IPCF chair.
And philanthropy is driving it forward.