ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico. October 5, 2017—STC.UNM and the UNM Innovation Academy have announced the first cohort of 10 commercialization teams for projects submitted and chosen to participate in the Lobo Rainforest I-Corps program.
Program instruction begins at the Lobo Rainforest Building on October 6 and will last for approximately ten weeks. Participants will take part in nine classroom sessions and complete out-of-class assignments. Between classroom sessions, teams will conduct entrepreneurial fieldwork and report on their progress. Key fieldwork will include customer interviews to help commercialization teams understand the needs of their targeted industries in order to focus their technologies on market demand.
Each team will receive up to $3,000 to support its early-stage entrepreneurial activities, such as performing customer research, attending additional programs, and creating prototypes. Teams will also have access to resources and co-working space at the STC Cecchi VentureLab (located at the Lobo Rainforest Building), have access to experienced entrepreneurial mentors working with STC, and have opportunities to network and collaborate with other researchers and entrepreneurs.
The fall 2017 chosen projects are listed below.
- Adaptive Biomedical Design – Hydrogels for drug delivery to improve patient experience
- Pencil-In – A phone application allowing users to scan dates, schedules, and calendars into their own calendar by taking a photo of the subject. Also includes a business card-to-contact scanner and document-to-note scanner
- Mnemosyne Informatics, LLC – Empathic AI modeling training through gamification
- Metallum Innova – Visualization software that maps exact location of a nasogastric feeding tube while minimizing exposure to ionizing radiation using an array of metal detectors
- RAIDS (Remote Autonomous Insecticide Delivery System) – An autonomous drone that can dispense an insecticide or larvacide in a designated area and store and transmit data as needed, for use in remote areas that contain mosquitos carrying diseases such as Yellow Fever, Malaria, West Nile, and Zika
- BamConn LLC – Bamboo connectors to provide a moment resisting joint when combining 3 or more bamboo poles with 4-14 inch diameters. A quick, low cost, sustainable alternative to 2-4 story commercial buildings
- SMILAB (Smart Management of Infrastructure Laboratory) – Low-cost, efficient real-time sensing platform to collect railroad bridge displacement data and assess bridge condition
- Clearstream Technologies LLC – A client/server software framework that allows video streaming users to control video quality based on constraints they define and the preferences they specify
- Shower Chaise – Modular shower chair which eases bathing for those with physical limitations
- Pressure Ulcer Relief (PUR) Technologies – A commercialized bed pad, used at home, that continually inflates and deflates at random pressure spots
The $443,631 National Science Foundation grant, announced in August, will provide training and seed funding to approximately 100 teams over the course of the five-year grant. STC CEO Lisa Kuuttila and Innovation Academy Executive Director Rob DelCampo, who are the co-PIs on the grant and responsible for managing the program, are excited to see the first group of participants coming together for entrepreneurial training.
“The management teams at STC and the Innovation Academy, along with invited business community members, evaluated proposals for several technologies and ideas that will be vetted through the I-Corps program for start-up and other commercialization opportunities. The academic and entrepreneurial lead team members will learn first-hand what it takes to start a company from an idea or technology developed for a real market need,” said Kuuttila. “We hope that going through this program will qualify these projects for a second level of funding and training ($50,000) through the NSF I-Corps program and SBIR/STTR programs.”
To increase the economic impact of NSF-funded fundamental research, the National Science Foundation created the I-Corps (Innovation Corps) program to foster innovation among university scientists and engineers. The program teaches them how to validate the commercial viability of their innovations through market analysis and the entrepreneurial process. The ultimate program goal is to create a national innovation network of entrepreneurial inventors who are commercializing their NSF-funded research through new company formation, licensing, strategic partnerships, and bigger private and public funding. Participants who have gone through the I-Corps program have high praise for the process. Visit the Lobo Rainforest I-Corps site to view the video and find out more about the program at http://loborainforest.com/icorps/.
Also see Kevin Robinson-Avila’s October 10, 2017 article “UNM student teams win $34,000 to begin marketing new technologies,” from the Albuquerque Journal, reprinted below.
UNM student teams win $34,000 to begin marketing new technologies
By Kevin Robinson-Avila / Journal Staff Writer
Monday, October 9th, 2017 at 3:23pm
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Ten new technologies developed by University of New Mexico faculty and students are taking their first steps to market with $34,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps program.
The NSF awarded a $444,000 grant in August to UNM’s Innovation Academy and the Science and Technology Corp., the university’s tech-transfer office, to finance, train and mentor student-led efforts to seek markets and develop commercialization strategies for new technologies. That will allow UNM to pump small grants of $3,400 each into about 100 student teams over the next five years. UNM selected the first 10 teams this month.
That includes four created by students and six others developed by UNM faculty, said Innovation Academy Executive Director Rob DelCampo.
“Most universities with NSF iCorp funding focus solely on faculty inventions, but we chose a unique approach that includes student innovations as well,” DelCampo said.
Student creations include:
— an app to instantly turn photos of things like course schedules and events into files for programs on mobile devices
— an artificial intelligence platform that recognizes feelings and emotions in language
— a novel shower chair for people with disabilities or injuries
— an inflating and deflating bed pad to relieve pain in pressure points
Faculty inventions include:
— an insulin delivery system for painless drug injection
— a feeding tube insertion device to avoid patient injury
— a remote-sensing system for continuous rail road and bridge inspection
— an autonomous drone for insecticide application in remote areas
— a new method to bind bamboo in building construction
— software to improve video streaming quality
Each technology team has one student leader, plus an academic adviser and a business mentor. Students will spend 10 weeks researching markets and developing strategies to move forward.
A panel of judges will evaluate their findings in December to determine which technologies and strategies are worth pursuing. Those deemed viable become eligible to apply for $50,000 NSF grants to continue their efforts.