Despite the indisputable need for the development of renewable energy sources, the current options for renewable fuel (ethanol, butanol, biodiesel, methane, and hydrogen) are heavily based on food crops. One promising option is cellulosic biofuels, which have the potential to replace 30% of current demand for transportation fuels. However, the decomposition of cellulosic biomass presents a formidable challenge that requires costly, energy-intensive and environmentally detrimental pretreatment steps.
This team is researching the viability of duckweed, a tiny, stem-less monocot plant that grows on the surface of ponds, as a cellulosic biofuel. Duckweed has a 2-3 day doubling time, utilizes non-arable land, can grow all year round and does not require extensive biomass pretreatment for biofuel production.
Lifting injuries affect hundreds of thousands of workers each year. Injuries arise partly due to lack of training and partly due to situations in which workers lift heavy loads for extended periods of time. The effects of these injuries are costly, with $50 billion per year paid out in worker’s compensation.
This team is developing the Strong Arm, a form-fitting garment that incorporates a unique system of load-bearing straps that allows workers to lift heavy objects more easily and with significantly less risk of injury. Essentially, the system shifts the forces of lifting from the injury-prone hands, arms, neck, shoulders and lower back and distributes them evenly to stronger and more stable areas of the torso.
Florida Atlantic University (FAU) recently established a university-level Innovation and Entrepreneurship Platform with the goal of integrating and enhancing entrepreneurial activity at FAU. As part of the initiative, this grant will help lay the groundwork for the development of two new programs: the Spark Incubator and a Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Spark.
This planning grant supports the development of a plan for programs to support student entrepreneurship at Louisiana State University through a new interdisciplinary course in entrepreneurship, a business plan competition, and a mentorship program. The three-pronged program is designed to stimulate the formation of LSU's first E-Teams, involving undergraduates, faculty and counselors from technical, business and humanities disciplines. The overall aim of their efforts is to prepare undergraduates to become contributors to both the local Louisiana economy and the global economy.
University of North Carolina at Pembroke, 2010 - $8,000
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP) serves a diverse regional community of 38% Native Americans, 32% Caucasians, 25% African Americans, and 5% Hispanics and others. UNCP is located among the poorest counties in the nation, with unemployment between 12% and 18% and per capita income 40% below the national average. In order to help the regional economy, efforts are underway to promote entrepreneurship through the Thomas Family Center for Entrepreneurship (TFCE). The TFCE is a UNCP-affiliated organization whose goal is to promote entrepreneurship education at UNCP and provide free entrepreneurial consulting for local area residents.
This grant provides seed money to lay the groundwork for a follow-on proposal to create innovation-driven pathways for university students to lead new business development in this economically underprivileged area.
Drexel Smart House is a student-led, research-driven organization at Drexel University working to develop a sustainable model for urban residential living. The organization engages students in multidisciplinary teams working on a number of green projects, including a lightweight green roof, residential water recovery system, urban crop cultivation, energy recovery systems and more.
This grant will create the Drexel Smart House Student Seed Fund, which will allow students to conduct early research and prototype development. Drexel Smart House has shown that access to early seed funding for preliminary research and prototypes greatly improves prospects for expanded research funding and industry collaboration.
The new eighteen-month program will fund individual, student-proposed projects ranging in cost from $100-$2,500. Student-developed short proposals will be reviewed by a faculty member and a student review board. Project proposals will be from teams working on freshman or senior engineering design projects, multidisciplinary teams, graduate student teams, and undergraduate/graduate teams.
This grant supports a new course, Sustainable Medical Device Innovation for Developing Countries, in Johns Hopkins’ Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design (CBID). The course, being developed as a core requirement for a new one-year MS program at CBID, will have the explicit aim of training students in the process of identification, invention and implementation of healthcare technologies that solve clinical problems in developing countries.
Students will learn through immersive clinical experience, partnering with hospitals and community health centers in South Asia and Southern Africa. Over the course of two semesters, they will work in teams to invent and prototype multiple solutions to problems they identify, develop a clinical trial plan, identify manufacturing partners, and develop an appropriate business model. Once the projects reach a certain level of maturity, teams will receive intensive mentoring on how to pursue further funding opportunities to fully implement their ideas (Gates Foundation, USAID, etc.).
This grant supports the transformation of a year-long engineering capstone course into an E-Team-generating experience that takes the best new product ideas on campus and turns them into real prototypes and potential business ventures. There will be three steps to the program: 1) in a spring “Ideas Competition,” students will pitch their ideas to a review board made up of entrepreneurs/investors; 2) E-Teams will be formed around each of the five winning ideas; 3) the following spring, the E-Teams will compete in a business plan competition, with the winning teams receiving substantial funds to continue development of their projects beyond the capstone timeframe.
The teams will be comprised of students from engineering, business and law.
University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2010 - $29,000
The NCIIA-funded UMass Amherst Entrepreneurship Initiative (UMassEI), a one-credit course, has greatly increased student participation in entrepreneurship on University of Massachusetts Amherst campus, having grown from five students in 2007 to over 200 from thirty majors running over 100 active student companies. While UMass faculty are currently formalizing a program that connects the most advanced of these student companies to outside mentors, increasing their chances for success, there remains a large gap between the mature teams and the teams in need of support. Many student companies lack the maturity or level of development to take advantage of the mentorship program after completing the one-credit UMassEI class.
This grant will help bridge the gap and connect more students more effectively to outside programs and mentors. Faculty will develop a “bridge program” for students, with the objective of providing early student companies with the knowledge and support they need to cross the gap between completing the introductory course and reaping maximum benefit from outside advisors. The program will consist of three elements: independent studies with faculty across campus who will mentor student innovation projects; bi-weekly seminars for all student proto-companies in the program to build peer-mentoring networks (a result of feedback from mentors who said students were not “ready” to talk with them yet), share successes, answer questions and make them accountable to the group; and weekly networking sessions with external entrepreneurs.