August 2011

Dmitriy Timerman - Columbia University

Dmitriy Timerman is a senior at Columbia University studying Biomedical Engineering. At Columbia, he is president of the New York Alpha chapter of Tau Beta Pi and serves as vice-president on the board of the Biomedical Engineering Society. He has been involved in research since he was a student at Stuyvesant High School and is currently a member of the Laboratory for Functional Optical Imaging. For his work on the potential clinical use of optical imaging, he was recognized in the 2011 Goldwater Scholarship as an Honorable Mention. He has also worked to improve the connection between high school students interested in research and labs around New York City by creating, a service intended to help facilitate the process. Dmitriy was born in Ukraine and is interested in the potential of technological innovation in the developing world. As part of this goal, he has been involved with Engineers without Borders and CatarAct International. His non-academic interests include hiking in New Hampshire, playing chess, and reading.


As an NCIIA Student Ambassador, I want to connect many of the student-led initiatives at Columbia and to provide an environment for innovation. I intend to collaborate with student leaders around campus and entrepreneurs in New York City to introduce creative ideas and startups to the community. By providing students and faculty with improved access to socially engaged entrepreneurship opportunities, I hope to continue on the success that Columbia has had with technological innovation.

Dee Helton - University of Tennessee Health Science Center

Dee Helton is a Ph.D. student at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center concentrating on Biomedical Science and Neurogenetics. Originally from Indiana, Dee moved to Texas to pursue her B.S. in neuroscience at Baylor University. During her time at Baylor, Dee joined Kappa Delta sorority and received an internship through KD to work with Karen Hasty, Wilhelm Professor of Orthopaedics at the UT-Campbell Clinic. At the UT-Campbell Clinic, Dee’s project was to design and test new technological advances in the materials used in implants and prosthetics. This opportunity opened the door for Dee to receive the Neuroscience Institute Fellowship for Undergraduate Research in the summer of 2009, to pursue her degree at the UT Health Science Center, and ultimately land a graduate position at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where she is currently working on a model of Alzheimer’s disease. Her ultimate career goal is to work for the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

Dee is the student body president of the UT Health Science Center. She is also the student representative on numerous committees, including the Campus Improvement Fund, Graduate Studies Council, Student Health Advisory Board, Library Advisory Board, and the Centennial Committee. In addition, Dee serves as a chapter advisory board member for the Kappa Delta chapter at Rhodes College and is the alumnae representative for the Kappa Delta Memphis Alumni Chapter.  In her spare time, Dee likes running along the Mississippi River or cheering on her UT Vols.

NCIIA's Student Ambassadors 2011-12

Introducing our 2011-12 Student Ambassadors!

Thirteen exceptional student entrepreneurs will be hard at work on campuses across the country, inspiring their classmates and peers to take great ideas for socially beneficial technologies towards market.

Learn more about NCIIA's Student Ambassador program. And follow their activities here.

U. Tennessee Health Science

Dee Helton


Columbia University

Dmitriy Timerman

Wash. State University

Jade Patterson

U. Southern California

Jared Goodner

Oregon State University 

Jennifer Villalobos


University  California - LA

Jerrid Matthews

Boston University

Joseph McMahon

Wake Forest University 

Lucy Lan

Art Center Col. of Design 

Mariana Prieto

University of Texas-Austin

Mariel Bolhouse


U. California - Berkeley

Omoju Miller

Harvard University

Paxton Maeder-York

New York University

Samantha Smith


Want a Student Ambassador on your campus?  Find out how!


Our partner:





Ideas for sustainable communities sparking in Portland, OR

NCIIA's IdeaLab is in Portland, OR, this week. Some 45 entrepreneurial students have gathered to generate sustainable business ideas and compete for seed money at the workshop, being held at Portland State University.

Teams of students will compete to come up with the best idea for a sustainable product or innovation at IdeaLab. The prize? Seed money to bring the ideas to the marketplace.

NCIIA IdeaLab offers a transformational entrepreneurial experience to undergraduate and graduate students while creating solutions and capitalizing on opportunities to address far-reaching societal challenges. Students will learn how to develop and commercialize products and innovations that promote and support productive and environmentally sustainable communities.

Open Minds past teams

Open Minds 2011

Fifteen teams exhibited their innovations during Open Minds 2011, Friday, March 25 thru Saturday, March 26, 2011 in Washington, D.C. at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

  • Jatropha Fuel Briquette Design for Smallholder Farmers in Guatemala

    University of Colorado at Boulder

    Developing briquettes made from the locally available Jatropha plant to meet rural families’ cooking fuel needs
    Learn more
  • Continuously Variable Transmission system

    Anna University, Chennai, India

    Improving fuel efficiency of agricultural engines by incorporating a pulley-type transmission system into the engine.
    Learn more
  • Gel-Fuel and The Twig Light

    Arizona State University

    A clean-burning gel fuel to replace traditional open fires/stoves in developing countries AND a clean electric light that makes use of existing waste energy.
    Learn more
  • Lyogo

    Purdue University

    Developing a device that makes it easy to distribute, administer, and dispose of medicine around the world.
    Learn more
  • Medici Medical Technologies

    Duke University

    Developing innovative devices to restore control to women suffering from urinary incontinence (UI).
    Learn more
  • infantAIR

    Rice University

    Developing low-cost ventilation system for infants and small children with respiratory distress in developing countries.
    Learn more
  • Antenatal Screening Kit

    Johns Hopkins University

    Developing an easy to use screening kit to deliver low-cost healthcare to pregnant women in developing countries.
    Learn more
  • mobiLIFE, Inc.

    Boston University

    A painless, Bluetooth-enabled CGMS that provides precise readings at a fraction of the cost for people suffering from or at risk for diabetes.
    Learn more
  • Sustainable Solar Sanitation System

    Georgia Institute of Technology

    Addressing the issue of sanitation in developing countries through the development of a dry latrine system that provides sustainable, affordable, and safe treatment of human waste using the sun's energy.
    Learn more
  • Kibera Working Group's WATSAN Solution

    University of Denver

    Working toward the goal of improved sanitation facilities in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya.
    Learn more
  • Relay Technology Management, Inc.

    Tufts University

    Developing the Innovation Engine, a web-based analytics approach to identifying promising drug candidates from academic research institutions and early-stage biotechnology companies.
    Learn more
  • Rickshaw Bank

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    Working in collaboration with The Rickshaw Bank (TRB), an Indian Nonprofit, on a number of incremental rickshaw inprovements to the current model's efficiency and safety.
    Learn more
  • SAFE AGUA: Ducha Halo Portable Shower

    Art Center College of Design

    Developing an affordable pressurized shower solution for impovrished familes in developing countries that provides a warm shower, reduces the spread of illness and reduces the amount of water used in traditional showers.
    Learn more
  • WishVast: Building Trust and Social Capital using Cellphones

    Pennsylvania State University

    A cell-phone-based business networking system that harnesses the pervasiveness of cellphones in developing countries to optimize resource utilization and facilitate people-to-people trade, with the ultimate goal of alleviating poverty.
    Learn more
  • Malo Traders LLC

    Temple University and Purdue University

    Combating extreme poverty and malnutrition by providing state-of-the art and environmentally sustainable storage, efficient processing and fortification technology, and marketing services to farmers and affordable prices to consumers.
    Learn more

Thanks to our 2011 sponsors:

A Sampling of Press Coverage for Open Minds 2011

Learn about the 2010 teams


NCIIA News is the bi-annual newsletter of the NCIIA, with each edition featuring the latest in NCIIA happenings and a spotlight on a particularly successful recent E-Team.
Featured Articles
Our grantees have great stories to tell. Here we present some of the feature articles we've published in our newsletters over the years.
Annual Conference
Click below to view presentations and read papers from recent annual conferences.

2012; 2011; 2010; 2009; 2008; 2007; 2006; 2005

Student Entrepreneur Publications
Visit the links below to access online versions of our student entrepreneurship guides. Print versions of the guides are also available for sale (reduced rate for NCIIA members). E-mail us to learn more.


Open Minds Guidelines


Open Minds is the annual exhibition of NCIIA's best student teams. The event takes place in conjunction with the NCIIA annual conference and involves an evening exhibition for NCIIA conference attendees as well as an exhibition open to the general public and an exciting video competition. 10-15 teams are selected to participate each year. 

Open Minds 2014 will be held on March 22 in San Jose, CA.  Interested in applying? The Open Minds 2014 RFP will open in November and  applications will be accepted until December 13.

Learn more about Open Minds 2013 here.

Application Guidelines

Why Apply?

  • Great exposure and networking oportunities
  • Present your innovation and pitch to a wide range of audiences (peers, academics, potential investors, and the general public)
  • Selected teams receive an all-expense paid trip to NCIIA's annual conference to participate
  • Opportunties for high profile, media attention
  • Chance to win video competition cash prizes to further your venture

Eligibility and Requirements

  • Interested teams must be previously or currently affilliated with NCIIA, and can be one of the following:
    • An NCIIA Advanced E-Team grant recipient
    • A student team that has resulted from an NCIIA Course and Program grant
    • A student team that has attended an NCIIA venture development workshop (E-Team Program, VentureLab, Advanced Invention to Venture) or is involved with the University Innovation Fellows program.
  • Teams must have a working prototype, or something engaging to showcase at the time of the exhibition (hands-on and interactive displays draw the most media attention and interest from the public).
  • Applying teams must submit a brief video as part of the Open Minds application (see details below). Teams selected to participate in Open Minds will have their videos entered into the video competition. Cash prizes will be awarded to teams with the winning videos.
  • Selected teams are required to be on location  and must attend all activities related to Open Minds.

Questions about your team's eligibility? Contact Patricia Boynton

Video Competition Details

Started in 2010, The Open Minds annual video competition has enabled participating teams to spread the word about what they're doing among a wide range of audiences leading up to, as well as beyond, the Open Minds exhibitions. Teams are required to submit a link to their video as part of their initial application. First prize is $1,500.

Teams selected for Open Minds participation will have their videos automatically entered into the competition. Videos will be judged by a panel of reviewers and ranked based on originality, creativity, and pitch delivery. The top 5 videos will be posted online for public viewing and voting, and the video with the most public votes will be awarded $1,500. Winners will be announced on location during Open Minds.

Download the video competition guidelines for additional information.

Watch videos from 2013 participating teams.

How to Apply

The Open Minds 2014 application will become available in November, 2013. Check back for details, including the submission deadline, this fall.

Interested teams will submit an easy, 5-step online application, which can be accessed here. If you have not already done so, you will need to create a NCIIA account to access the application. Teams should be prepared to provide the following as part of the application:

  1. A brief narrative (no more than 3 pages) that addresses the following:
    • Your Technology: What is your invention or technology innovation and is it technically feasible? What problem are you solving for what customers? In what way is it better than other solutions on the market? What large-scale impact would successful adoption of your innovation create (e.g., lives saved, amount of C02 reduction, increased income to customers, etc.)?
    • Why Open Minds? Explain why you want to participate in Open Minds and what your team hopes to get out of this experience.
    • Your Exhibit Plans: During the Open Minds exhibition, participating teams engage with a wide variety of people––from the general public and media representatives, to college faculty, to angel investors. Successful exhibits are inviting, interactive, and teach people (regardless of age or level of expertise in your area) about your product and/or venture. If your team is selected to participate in Open Minds, please describe what you plan to showcase. What equipment (if any) do you plan on bringing (laptop, etc.)? Do you envision needing electricity for your exhibit? Will you bring a prototype and/or any relevant tools or materials with you? If so, please describe the size of your prototype and any materials that would be included as part of your exhibit. If bringing a prototype is not possible, please explain how you intend to create an attractive, interactive exhibit.
  2. A high resolution (at least 2MB/300 dpi in size), compelling photo. Photos can be of your prototype and/or demonstrate your device's intended use or market. Photos from the field are also acceptable. This photo will be used for marketing purposes, so just be sure it's high resolution, compelling, and one that you're comfortable sharing.
  3. A link to your team's video. If your team is selected to participate in Open Minds, your video will be entered in the video competition. Complete video competition guidelines can be downloaded HERE.
  4. Verification of support from a faculty advisor. This may take a day or two, so plan accordingly in advance of the submission deadline.


Applicants and faculty advisors will be notified of their status in early January 2014. Selected teams will be responsible for making their own travel arrangements. NCIIA will subsidize travel and expenses for up to two winning team members to attend. These expenses include airfare, hotel accommodations, and a small stipend for food. Most meals will be provided.


The Malo Traders team from Temple University shows a sample of their nutritional rice

The SAFE AGUA: Ducha Halo Portable Shower team from Art Center College of Design delivers their pitch

The Rickshaw Bank team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology

What past teams are saying

“It was great to be able to present our concepts to new faces and get new insight and opinions, as well as see our work in comparison to what else is being done in the academic world.”

--2012 participant

“This is an invaluable experience that will put you in touch with some great contacts and breathe new life and excitement into your project. You'd be crazy not to take advantage of this opportunity.”

--2010 participant

“[Open Minds is an] overall fantastic experience that gives you the unique opportunity to learn about the mechanics of the successful presentation and pitch of your product as well as an opportunity to practice in an extremely prestigious and unique environment.”

--2011 participant

NCIIA grantees tell their stories

NCIIA supports student innovations, technologies and ventures to improve the lives of people in the US and overseas. Here's some of that work in action.

Thinking of starting a venture? Check out these tips for student and university researchers.

Visit our Youtube channel to see more clips.



NCIIA's best student innovations

This section features outstanding student innovation videos selected from Open Minds, our annual showcase of our best student innovation teams.

Each video frame plays a sequence of videos from that year's competition. As you watch, you can click the 'next' button to advance to the next team's entry.

Videos from Open Minds 2011
Videos from
March Madness for the Mind 2010
Clean Energy and Technology
Green Materials
Ecovative Design
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Former E-Team Ecovative Design developed and is selling mushroom-based Ecocradle packaging and Greensulate insulation.
Solar innovations
Sustainable Solar Sanitation System
Georgia Institute of Technology
This team is addressing the issue of sanitation in developing countries through the development of a dry latrine system that provides sustainable, affordable, and safe treatment of human waste using the sun’s energy.
Heating and light
Greenlight Planet
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Former E-Team team invented a solar-charged, battery-powered LED lantern that is safer, more economical and less polluting than kerosine lanterns. Greenlight Planet has sold over 600,000 lanterns in India.
Heating and light
Fuel Briquette Design
University of Colorado Boulder
To combat deforestation and the high cost of wood in Afghanistan, students and faculty developed a technology that enables fuel briquettes to be made from paper scraps and other waste products.
NCIIA's Global Health Technologies
Clean water/sanitation
SAFE AGUA: Ducha Halo Portable Shower
Art Center College of Design
This team is developing the Ducha Halo, an affordable pressurized shower solution that provides a warm shower, reduces the spread of illness and reduces the amount of water used in traditional showers.
Clean water/sanitation
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Former E-Team is developing a low-cost water purification device for developing countries based on simple membrane filtration technology.
Maternal/infant health
Antenatal Screening Kit
Johns Hopkins University
This team is developing an antenatal screening kit to deliver low-cost healthcare to women in even the remotest villages. The kit includes a variety of custom markers pre-filled with reagents for screening tests.
Leveraged Freedom Chair
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
This E-Team is developing a lever-propelled wheelchair designed specifically to meet the mobility needs of people with disabilities in developing countries.

New video series: Insights on Innovation

Thinking of starting a venture? We asked a group of veteran businesspeople and industry experts to give their advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. You can see the videos here.

NCIIA's Insights on Innovation video series is funded by the NSF.