June/July 2007 Newsletter

Dear Readers,

With my first year as Executive Director behind me, I am extremely excited about the effect the Deshpande Center is having on innovation and the commercialization of new technologies. We are funding projects and working with faculty and student teams across MIT, in multiple technologies and markets.

Today there is tremendous worldwide interest in technological innovation as a way to improve the standard of living and quality of life, and to solve some of the large problems such as energy, the environment, and global heath. So what impact can the Deshpande Center have on these problems? Actually quite a lot, both in terms of our results relative to the resources we invest, and in educating and “leading by example”.

As I begin my second year, I eagerly anticipate working with creative researchers and inventors on exciting new projects. I look forward to engaging with the members of both the MIT community and the greater business and technology communities. The Deshpande Center will continue to support and assist our existing and past project teams as they transition from MIT to commercial enterprises.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to introduce you to Nancy Lyons, the newest member of our team. Nancy will coordinate all aspects of the grant review process and handle the myriad of administrative activities for the Center. We're glad to have her on board!

Best Regards,
Leon Sandler
Executive Director

In This Issue

  • Deshpande Project Receives $10,000 as a Runner-up in the 100K business Plan Competition
  • Deshpande Funded X-Ray Technology Featured in Technology Review Article
  • i-Teams Announces Fall 2007 Projects
  • Deshpande Center Spin-Out, Pervasis Therapeutics, Inc., Named to Red Herring 100, Spring 2007

Deshpande Project Receives $10,000 as a Runner-up in the 100K business Plan Competition

Congratulations to SaafWater, a runner up in the 2007 MIT 100K Business Plan Competition. Building on the low-cost, electricity-free, incubation technology developed by Amy Smith and funded by the Deshpande Center, the company has big plans to provide clean and affordable water to the urban poor in developing countries.

The incubation technology, “PortaTherm”,  licensed to SaafWater, in combination with a daily chlorine water treatment capsule will help to provide 700,000 people with clean drinking water and prevent 650,000 episodes of diarrhea each year.

“This $10,000 will really get things moving for us commercially,” said Sarah Bird, CEO of SaafWater and a graduate student working on the project, “we could not have gotten this far in such a short time without the Deshpande Center grant. With the help of the Deshpande Center and the i-Teams course, we were able to refine the PortaTherm incubation technology and to study distribution strategies - all of which lead us to this amazing honor.”

The PortaTherm incubation technology works by harnessing the energy stored in a material as it changes phase from solid to liquid, while maintaining a constant temperature of 37º C for at least 24 hours- the optimum time and temperature for water quality tests. The PortaTherm team is also continuing trials on clinical applications of the technology such as TB diagnosis and the transportation of microbiological samples.

Local SaafWater saleswomen will use the technology as a marketing tool. The SaafWater “ladies” will offer free water quality tests to households they call on. When the saleswoman returns to the home, she will bring the test results, showing the contamination. The saleswoman will then demonstrate the effectiveness of the chlorine capsule on the contaminated water.
The $10,000 in prize money will enable the team to get an alpha product up and running and to hire, at least, 5 full-time SaafWater sales ladies to start selling the product. The team is currently hoping to raise $40,000 to fully fund their pilot study, which is starting in Pakistan in June.
We look forward to hearing the updates from Pakistan this summer!

Deshpande Funded X-Ray Technology featured in Technology Review Article

Richard Lanza's Deshpande funded work, “Phase Contrast X-Ray Imaging”, was featured in a recent Technology Review Article. The project proposes a new approach to x-ray imaging, particularly for mammography, to enhance the contrast of images while reducing the dose of the patient.

Read the Full Article

i-Teams Announces Fall 2007 Projects

i-Teams is a collaborative effort between the Deshpande Center and the MIT Entrepreneurship Center. Each semester, we select several research projects and build high performance student teams for each; the students evaluate commercial feasibility and develop go-to-market strategies for the innovations.

Deshpande Center projects participating in the Fall 2007 class are:

  • Super-Hydrophobic Nanomaterials
  • Rapid Multiplexed Analysis for Molecular Diagnostics
  • Phase Contrast X-Ray Imaging
  • High-Amperage Energy Storage Device

Additional (non-Deshpande funded) Projects participating:

  • Smart Boot
  • Sensitive Robot Manipulation

If you know of students who might be interested in joining one of the teams, please pass along the information below. Or if you have expertise in one of these areas and have a possible interest in getting involved, please contact Ken Zolot.

Deshpande Center Spin-Out, Pervasis Therapeutics, Inc., Named to Red Herring 100, Spring 2007

Congratulations to Pervasis Therapeutics! The Deshpande Center spinout and pioneer in regenerative cell-based therapies and technologies, was named to the Red Herring 100 for Spring 2007. Pervasis' Vascugel ™ technology, is currently in phase II clinical trials.