August/September 2004 Newsletter

Dear Friend of the Deshpande Center,
We are pleased to announce the successful launch of "i-Teams," a brand new course for graduate students this fall. The course offers a unique opportunity for highly qualified and motivated students to help build go-to-market strategies for MIT innovations. Our first class happened Wednesday, September 8, with our five projects presenting their ideas to a standing-room-only audience. More information about the course is included in this issue of our newsletter.

In other news, we are getting ready to announce the winners of our Fall 2004 round of grants on October 25 and are planning our next Faculty Entrepreneurship Workshop for September 30.
Krisztina Holly
Executive Director

In This Issue

  • I-Teams course launches
  • Faculty Entrepreneurship Workshop September 30
  • Grant program opens to all of MIT
  • Fall Innovation Week in December

I-Teams course launches
MIT graduate students can help deliver on the promise of converting laboratory discovery into innovation in a new course called i-Teams. The course (2.937, 10.807, 15.371), which the Deshpande Center helped pilot last spring, is taught jointly by the Sloan School of Management and the School of Engineering.

"Everybody talks about how MIT innovation and ingenuity have fueled the engine of American commerce, but nobody understands how that happens," said Sloan School Senior Lecturer Ken Zolot, one of i-Teams' instructors. "How do you go from being a scientist in a lab to a founder of a company, taking raw data and figuring out how to benefit society with it?" This is the challenge i-Teams aims to meet.

Each i-Team (short for "Innovation Team") comprises highly qualified and motivated graduate students who spend a semester collaborating with MIT research labs and mentors from the business community. The participating labs all won grants from the Deshpande Center for research in technologies that include medical devices, microfluidics, genomics, batteries/fuel cells, ionic colloidal crystals, and wireless communication. Joining Zolot as instructors are Charles Cooney, professor of chemistry and biochemical engineering and faculty director of the Deshpande Center, and Edward Roberts, David Sarnoff Professor of Management of Technology.

The course starts with a rigorous, three-week selection process followed by teambuilding based on Sloan School Professor Deborah Ancona's principles of organization. The course "reflects the way early entrepreneurship works," said Zolot. "You set out to explore a technology, and you try it and see what customers like. If they don't like it, you try something else. You don't spend all semester thinking about your grand vision and then present it. You present your grand vision in the second week and then test it."

Projects for the fall 2004 i-Teams course are:
LOW-COST X-RAY SYSTEMS: A low-cost x-ray imaging system made with off-the-shelf consumer digital imaging equipment that could be a boon to the two-thirds of the world's population that does not yet receive advanced medical care.

MICROFLUIDIC PLATFORM FOR BIOLOGICAL ASSAYS: A microfluidics-based hybridization platform for faster and easier-to-use biological assays that could dramatically accelerate molecular genetic research results.

BUILT TO LAST: An innovative approach to the design and manufacture of hydrogen fuel cells and metal-air batteries that could break the cost barriers impeding the mass marketing of these devices.

COLLOIDAL CRYSTALS...IN MINUTES: Extremely rapid, cost-effective fabrication of ionic colloidal crystals (ICC), a family of materials that could enable a wide range of new applications, such as ultrafiltration, microfluidics, catalysis, drug delivery, photonics, and ferroic devices.

POWERING THE WORLD'S CELLULAR NETWORKS: Next-generation, high-performance amplifiers, based on a new ribbon-beam vacuum tube technology that breaks current throughput bottlenecks, to deliver more powerful and less expensive cellular networks.

Faculty Entrepreneurship Workshop Sept 30
Our next Faculty Entrepreneurship Workshop, titled SBIR Grants: Finding Research Money for your Startup, takes place Thursday, September 30.

SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) is a program that enables startups to get research funding without giving up equity. Eleven federal agencies participate in SBIR. In fiscal year 2005, over $2 billion will be available to small high-tech companies. A valuable source of early capital, SBIR funding uses a mechanism that faculty and researchers are already somewhat familiar with: grants. However, the criteria are quite different from typical academic grants, so our guest speakers will offer valuable tips on small business funding opportunities through SBIR.
The speakers are Bob Kispert, director of federal programs for the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, and Mark Lundstrom, CEO of BioScale, Inc.

Each Faculty Entrepreneurship Workshop focuses on a different challenge or opportunity for faculty starting companies. The workshops include lunch and are open to MIT faculty and grant recipients only. Please contact us ( or x3-0943) for more information or to sign up.

Grant program opens to all of MIT
We’d like to announce a first! We will open up proposals for our Spring 2005 round of grants to the entire Institute, rather than just the School of Engineering. Pre-proposals are due November 22 at 8:00 a.m. PLEASE NOTE: the pre-proposal template will be available on our web site in late October. If you plan to work on your pre-proposal in the meantime, keep these key points in mind:

  • Opportunity
  • Proposed Solution
  • Deliverables
  • Commercialization
  • Prior Art
  • Collaborations and Funding
  • Resources and Budget

Fall Innovation Week in December
Save the date: The next Fall Innovation Week will take place December 2-4, including the Global Ties conference and the MIT Venture Capital Conference. Plan to come see our i-Teams present their go-to-market strategies at the Deshpande Center Innovation Showcase! Stay tuned for more.