December 2001

The NUberwalker: Low Cost Body Weight Supported Treadmill Training System

Northwestern University, $15,500

This E-Team developed the NUberwalker, a Body Weight Support Treadmill Training (BWSTT) system that helps with the physical rehabilitation of stroke and spinal cord injury patients. The NUberwalker consists of a triangular frame that arches over the treadmill like a swing set, bungee cords, and a harness. Once the user is strapped into the harness, he or she presses a button to tension the bungee cords to the desired level of support, and starts the treadmill.

There are other BSWTT systems in rehabilitation centers and hospitals, but they are usually large, complex and expensive. The team reasons that an in-home BSWTT system would allow for more frequent training between physical therapy sessions, as well as ongoing in-home training following the completion of physical therapy, improving patient recovery time.

EcoTech Marine: VorTech

Lehigh University, 2005 - $18,738


Maintaining a reef aquarium requires adequate water circulation to balance water chemistry, carry nutrients to inhabitants, and remove waste, all of which can be accomplished by means of a pump system. The EcoTech Marine E-Team developed a new and improved pump, the VorTech™, which creates a natural wave-like water flow while minimizing the intrusion of heat and bulky equipment into the reef environment.

The team designed the pump to attach magnetically on either side of the tank glass, allowing the electric motor to reside outside the tank, while the propeller can be set to create a variety of surge types. Competitors’ pumps generally produce jet-stream water flows, as opposed to VorTech’s wave-like surges.

Update: The EcoTech team has gone on to form a successful aquarium products company. Visit their website here.

Sustainable Shelter Design

California State Polytechnic University-Pomona, 2005 - $18,400

Habitat 21, a sustainable settlements project from the John T. Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies at Cal Poly Pomona, performed a long-range study on improving housing options in impoverished neighborhoods in Tijuana. These neighborhoods are currently served by Corazon, a US nonprofit whose mission is to serve Mexico’s poor through home-building, educational programs, and other community development activities. While Corazon’s home-building program is effective in providing basic shelter for residents of the communities in which they work, their designs rely on imported, non-renewable materials, do not consider heating and cooling needs, and do not address issues that affect quality of life, such as water, sanitation, security, and food production. This E-Team developed prototypes of sustainable housing systems that meet the needs of relief organizations like Corazon as well as local residents.

The team designed and tested prototypes that emphasize materials readily available in Tijuana, technology appropriate for the community’s cultural and economic conditions, and strategies that minimize the use of energy. Specifics include passive heating and cooling technology, affordable food production, security concerns, and clean waste and water systems. The goal of the team was to incorporate shelter, waste management, food production, and security into an integrated operation.

A Tray 4 All

University of Illinois at Chicago, 2005 - $12,000

Many varieties of lunch trays are available on the market: the standard tray featuring a flat surface and circumferential ledge, compartmentalized trays, and trays coated with non-slip surface material. However, there are no trays specifically designed to help people with partial arm function or motor control problems. This E-Team filled the gap by developing a specialized lunch tray for children with upper arm dysfunction. These children lack the strength and motor coordination to handle ordinary trays, and can’t function independently in the school cafeteria. The team developed two prototypes: one featuring a ring attached to the bottom right corner of the tray through which the user puts her good arm, freeing up the weaker arm to put items on the tray, and a butterfly-shaped tray. Both prototypes have cupholders that prevent drinks from sliding around.

Swimming Aid for the Blind and Visually-Impaired

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, 2005 - $5,150

This E-Team developed a swimming aid for the blind and visually impaired that alerts the swimmer when a wall is approaching. The device consists of a small wireless headset attached to the swimmer’s goggle strap. The headset receives signals from two units placed on opposing walls of the lane; when triggered, the headset relays an audible warning through a waterproof earpiece that a wall is approaching. The units also detect a change in the swimmer’s direction, allowing the headset to count laps.

There are no similar devices on the market, but the team has competition from electronic lap counters currently on the market, as well as the “tapper” – a person standing at the end of a swimming lane who uses a long cane to tap the blind swimmer on the shoulder when he/she is approaching the wall. This method is well-installed in the blind and visually impaired community, but the team believes the independence offered by their device gives them an advantage.

Strategic Technology Planning and Development Course Development

Johns Hopkins University

The Marquette University College of Engineering is developing Strategic Technology Planning and Development, a new course in the field of engineering entrepreneurship. The course focuses on developing technology that will be appropriate and available for product transfer at the moment it is needed. The course organizes students into E-Teams with the goal of producing a strategic development plan for a new technology-based business opportunity. The opportunity may be original to the team, or may derive from current college R&D programs. To stimulate commercialization of resulting opportunities, E-Teams are entered into the annual Golden Angels Network business plan contest.

Each four to six person E-Team consists of students, faculty members, and industry experts. Students learn through lectures, discussions, projects, and presentations. Once established, the course will fill a core role in the university’s Engineering Management Program

From Discovery to Commercialization: Developing the Greater Phoenix Innovation Pipeline

Loyola Marymount University

Sustainable development reconciles society’s developmental goals with the planet’s environmental limits over the long term. Although the sustainability industry is built upon the discoveries of researchers, the road from discovery to commercialization is not well known by most investigators, students, faculty members, and early-stage entrepreneurs. Additionally, many underserved student groups, such as the Hispanic and Native American populations and women, have had little exposure to sustainability science and innovation-focused careers. To address these issues, faculty from Arizona State University’s International Institute for Sustainability and the ASU Technopolis are implementing a sustainability-focused Technology and Life Sciences Entrepreneurship Course (TLSE), Sustainability Entrepreneurship, to bring together graduate and undergraduate students and faculty members, educational and entrepreneurial communities, and underserved populations and engage them in the innovation pipeline.

Course attendees—students, faculty members, and early-stage entrepreneurs from greater Phoenix—will learn basic start-up and management concepts and be exposed to strategic planning, technology roadmapping, business development, finance, intellectual property, marketing, law, product development, sales, and team building. Class members will form entrepreneurial teams to develop sustainability-focused business plans and financials, culminating with formal team presentations before a panel of industry experts, attorneys, and venture capitalists. ASU will also provide additional support for students to develop their sustainability-related projects following completion of the course

Entrepreneurial Field Studies

Northwestern University

This grant supports the University of Oklahoma’s Entrepreneurial Field Studies course, developed by faculty from the College of Business’s Entrepreneurship Center, which provides students with opportunities to apply concepts mastered in previous business courses while they work to develop intellectual property generated at the university. Student E-Teams work closely with the inventor of a product or service to bring previously shelved ideas to commercialization, with the ultimate goal of increasing wealth in the state of Oklahoma. Self-forming student teams choose intellectual property projects to undertake from several local institutions, including the office of Oklahoma Technology Development (OTD), the Noble Foundation, and the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF). The IP selection criteria include its ability to address social issues through technologies that solve critical problems and meet basic human needs. The scope of the teams’ due diligence generally involves research into the feasibility of commercializing patented IP, market research surrounding a new IP, or the development of a business plan for new IP.

The class will has an enrollment of twenty-four students, divided into eight E-Teams. Each E-Team is composed of three graduate students and a mentor, integral to the team’s activities. The students learn entrepreneurial evaluation processes in the classroom, partially through guest speakers, then execute due diligence on their chosen product in the field, working with the inventor to determine the market applications of the invention and the opportunity and feasibility of the proposed application. At the end of the semester, student teams complete a business plan and present it to a group of panelists from venture capital and private equity firms in the culminating business plan competition. Students involved in the competition gain access to networks of successful entrepreneurs, lenders and investors, team-building opportunities, business planning skills, and media exposure. At the course’s conclusion, they may form a company or perform as marketing agents on behalf of the university’s Office of Technology Development, receiving twenty percent of gross royalties

Measuring Bioimpedance in the Human Uterine Cervix: Towards Early Detection of Preterm Labor

Premature birth is the major determinant of long-term health problems in children, and occurs in 11% of approximately six million pregnancies in the U.S. each year. Subtle changes in cervical tissue throughout pregnancy can be detected as a decrease in bioimpedance. This team has developed a probe to measure bioimpedance, thereby detecting impending preterm labor at the tissue level with significantly more accuracy than current technologies