This grant supports the enhancement and institutionalization of Creative Design for Affordability (CDfA), a new course in the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. CDfA, established in collaboration with faculty from Cornell’s College of Human Ecology Department of Design and Environmental Analysis, is an experiential course focused on the role that design and technology development plays in private sector innovation and social entrepreneurship.
Through this grant, Cornell faculty will be able to support approximately five multidisciplinary E-Teams per year working with peers in India on the development and launch of businesses addressing global societal challenges. Specifically, funding will help to strengthen the effectiveness of the interdisciplinary content of the course by supporting the integration of business, design, and technological innovation; ensure that cross-national, US-India E-Teams collaborate in creating viable technologies addressing critical problems; and assure E-Teams gain access to mentorship resources inside and outside the classroom.
This grant supports a new course in entrepreneurship at Michigan State University (MSU). Currently, the College of Engineering at MSU generates a number of invention disclosures every year from student-faculty teams, but the question of whether a business opportunity exists or not isn’t typically addressed.
The new course will introduce select students and faculty working on IP-generating projects to the entrepreneurial process (opportunity identification, IP strategy, market research, operations, financial analysis, etc.); provide students with a multidisciplinary team experience by including business students on each of the projects; and provide teams with experience in developing formal product feasibility and business plans, submitting them to Michigan’s Great Lakes Entrepreneurship Quest Competition and gaining “real-world” feedback. The program is integrated with university engagement in local economic development programs and has support from those programs for mentoring and support of successful student teams.
Over the last four years, the Center of Bioengineering Innovation and Design (CBID, supported by an NCIIA Course and Program grant) within the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University has planned and launched a one-year master’s program focusing on the identification, creation and implementation of novel health care technologies.
This grant will fund prototype development costs for graduate student teams developing technologies in the CBID. Feedback from VCs and others emphasized the importance of developing very strong prototypes in order to increase the chances for securing funding and support. Faculty also plan to expand the program from twelve to fifteen students, and require teams to increase the number of and improve the quality of prototypes developed over the span of the program.
Grant PI Bob Allen reports that so far 15 students have graduated from the program with MS degrees. JHPIEGO, JHU’s global health partner, is further developing two other projects from the grant: an electronic partogram and the antenatal screening kit (a 2010 E-Team grantee and Popular Science invention of the year).
This grant, which builds on a previous NCIIA grant funding student technology projects in Northeastern University’s School of Technological Entrepreneurship, seeks to round out the program by adding two major components: 1) the inclusion of design students and mentors on E-Teams and funds for creating industry-grade prototypes, and 2) giving student teams access to incremental seed funding.
Northeastern will work in collaboration with the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Students from the Mass Art Product Development Lab will be integrated into Northeastern’s I-Cubator teams. Based on student team investment pitches, teams will be given the opportunity to raise funds of up to $3,000, with a strategic focus on design as a key project component. At the end of the one-year program, projects may then be commercialized, returned to the I-Cubator for a second year, or terminated.
Assistive Technologies (ATs) can be the single most important factor in determining whether people with disabilities can participate fully in society. However, the abandonment rate for new ATs is disconcertingly high, with inappropriate design for the user being one of the most common reasons for failure.
The University of Pittsburgh’s Human Engineering Research Laboratory (HERL), which marries efforts on research- and user-driven innovations with the expertise of outside business collaborators, has had success commercializing ATs in the past, with five spin-offs to its name. This proposal seeks funding to augment a current NSF-funded HERL program, called Research Experience for Undergraduates, to support projects and educational activities related specifically to AT product development done by undergraduates. NCIIA funding will be used to support multidisciplinary teams of undergraduates working on innovation-focused projects, workshops focused on design innovation and commercialization, and tours of local companies that support early-stage product design in the AT industry.
The ultimate goal of the expanded program is the development of highly promising AT products that can be launched after completion of the NCIIA-funded project, improving the quality and increasing the quantity of highly impactful ATs.
Agricultural fungicides, which combat a number of plant blights and diseases, are estimated to prevent the loss of up to 95% of annual crop yields worldwide. At the same time, many current fungicides are petrochemicals that come with major financial and environmental costs from toxicity and chemical buildup in the soil. Organic fungicides offer a safer solution, but are currently much less effective and more expensive than chemical fungicides.
This E-Team, calling itself Gen2 Agro, is developing a next-generation organic fungicide that is over 20% more effective than current organic options, making it comparable in efficacy to chemical alternatives. Gen2 Agro’s product is composed of naturally occurring, non-genetically modified bacteria that has been found to directly attack fungi, secreting byproducts that suppress fungal growth. The team's fungicide will work for some of the world’s most valued crops, including soybeans, wheat, and potatoes.
Although the ocean contains over 97% of the total water on Earth, less than 1% of world’s drinking water comes from the ocean. Desalination (the process of removing excess salt from water) on a large scale typically uses extremely large amounts of energy and requires specialized, expensive infrastructure, making it costly compared to the use of fresh water from rivers or groundwater. While most desalination technologies try to increase freshwater output by adding heat, making it an energy-intensive process, this E-Team is developing technology to harvest drinking water from the ocean using only solar energy. This is done by mimicking the water cycle: optimizing variables such as air flow, surface area, and liquid depth to increase evaporation.
The team is targeting developing countries with this technology, estimating a sixteen-gallon daily yield and a cost of $50 per unit for a scaled-down version.
Laparoscopic surgery is a growing surgical technique in which operations in the abdomen are performed through very small incisions (0.5-1.5 cm) compared to the larger incisions needed in traditional, open surgical procedures. Patients that undergo laparoscopic surgery enjoy shorter hospital stays and reduced instances of surgery-inflicted morbidity.
This E-Team is taking laparoscopy a step further, developing a set of laparoscopic tools that enable surgery with extremely small incisions leaving no visible scars by enabling assembly of complex tools inside the patient. Existing scar-free techniques are burdened by steep learning curves and high costs, but the E-Team’s device, called ENGAGE™, requires minimal surgeon re-training and aligns with current insurance reimbursement plans.
This E-Team is developing software to make the technology transfer process from academia to industry in the bio and pharma space more efficient. Calling themselves Relay Technology Management, the team is developing software that provides industry in-licensing and corporate strategy groups with competitive intelligence on specific research happening inside universities, and also enables university technology transfer offices to manage their IP portfolios and market the right technologies to the right industry partners.
Specifically, the software will: 1) enable faculty members to enter invention disclosures in a secure, online system; 2) generate an actionable report to the technology transfer office; and 3) market the opportunity to the right industry partner based on licensing needs and sponsored research initiatives.
The business model will be based on a subscription fee to industry partners. The product will be marketed to companies in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, diagnostic, medical device, chemical, physical and clean technology industries. Large players in this space have already confirmed a need for such a service, and have begun pre-ordering subscriptions.
Approximately two million babies die each year from acute respiratory infections (ARI), almost all in developing countries. Many neonatal ARI patients in the developing world do not receive proper treatment because hospitals can’t afford ventilators, which cost $6,000 on average.
To combat the problem, this E-Team, calling itself infantAIR, is developing BabyBubbles, a low cost ventilation system for use in developing countries. The device uses a continuous positive airway pressure system, which works by maintaining positive airway pressure during spontaneous breathing, increasing lung volume at the end of exhalation, preventing the collapse of the airway structure, and improving oxygenation. The device helps to keep a baby’s lungs fully inflated so he or she can breathe naturally.
The team is aiming to implement the device in Rwandan hospitals first, followed by worldwide dissemination.
Update: In the summer of 2012, the infantAir team won $2m in funding through the Gates Foundation.