May/June 2003 Newsletter

Governor Romney Lauds Deshpande Center's Mission at First IdeaStream Symposium; Grantee Wins Runner-up Prize in $50K Competition

Dear Friend of the Deshpande Center,

Last week marks a personal celebration of my first year with the Deshpande Center. As I think back on what we've accomplished, it's a thrill to see how far we have come in one year, I want to thank all of you that have contributed your time and ideas to the Center. We've made great progress so far, and we believe the best is yet to come!

In This Issue

  • IdeaStream 2003: Governor Mitt Romney praises the Deshpande Center's mission and MIT's economic engine
  • Grant recipient shines in two business plan competitions
  • Pre-proposal deadline for fall 2003 grant round - June 10
  • Ignition Forum on Portable Energy gets thumbs up: Series resumes in fall
  • Faculty Entrepreneurship Workshops resume June 16
  • MIT summer short courses offered by Deshpande grant recipients
  • More good stuff online… Press coverage and photos

IdeaStream 2003: Governor Mitt Romney praises the Deshpande Center's mission and MIT's economic engine
On May 13 and 14, MIT's Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation held its first annual IdeaStream Symposium. Aimed at connecting MIT researchers with the entrepreneurial community, the event began with an open house reception and dinner at the Museum of Science featuring a keynote address by Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. The speaker line-up also included Krisztina Holly, Executive Director of the Deshpande Center; Dr. Charles Vest, President, MIT; and Dr. Desh Deshpande, Co-Founder and Chairman of Sycamore Networks.

In his speech, Governor Mitt Romney praised MIT's economic engine and underscored the importance of MIT and the Deshpande Center's mission - catalyzing the transfer of innovative research from MIT's labs to commercialization and beyond - and its impact on Massachusetts and the rest of the nation. Governor Romney said, “University-based technology and innovation is important not just for MIT, but for the state, the nation and the global economy.”

He continued, "The only way an economy can provide new jobs for its citizens is through new business and new opportunities. This is what is being fueled by MIT…we must copy this nationwide, and statewide."

The following day included plenary lectures, discussion groups, feedback sessions, lab tours, and networking that sparked a meaningful exchange of ideas about new and future opportunities for innovation in the marketplace. The event featured a preview of Deshpande Center grant recipients through presentations and poster sessions.

Following introductory comments by Alex D'Arbeloff, Chairman, MIT Corporation, Tom Magnanti, Dean of the MIT School of Engineering, and Charles Cooney, Faculty Director of the Deshpande Center an opening keynote address was delivered by Charles Fine, Author of Clockspeed and Chrysler Leaders for Manufacturing Professor in the MIT Sloan School of Management. The event was held in collaboration with MIT's $50K Entrepreneurship Competition and the Sloan School's "Driving Innovation through Technology" Conference.

Commenting on the event, Krisztina Holly said, "The fact that we sold out almost two weeks before the event indicated that people had high expectations. And the feedback from attendees has shown that we've exceeded those expectations with unique content and top-notch participants." She added, "In particular, people really seemed to enjoy the structured networking and have commented on how effective it was for connecting, exchanging, and moving ideas forward."

"It's probably the best event I've been to in a long while," concurred Harry Weller, partner at New Enterprise Associates.

Deshpande Center grant recipient shines in two business plan competitions
When we first announced our fall grant last October, we knew we could expect great things from our grantees, but didn't realize it would come so soon. We've had some exciting news from several projects, and in this newsletter we'd like to highlight Prof. Doug Hart's team.

His innovation in rapid 3-D vision comes from some early work in the Hatsopoulous Fluids Laboratory. But Doug wisely recognized that although the market opportunity for 3-D vision in fluid flow analysis may be small, applications in other areas such as machine vision, endoscopy, facial recognition, and entertainment offered much promise.

"The technology appeared to have merit but key components were missing and I was having difficulty convincing skeptics that the technology could be made viable," explains Hart. "The Deshpande grant came at a crucial time, providing the resources needed to fill in missing parts and demonstrate the technology. The charter in which the Deshpande Center is founded is new to academia. It provides an opportunity to move technology from the lab into the market where it can be put to use."

Prof. Hart built a team with his research group and two Harvard Business School students, Micah Rosenbloom and Eric Paley. They formed a start-up called Brontes and entered both the MIT $50K and the Harvard Business School business plan competitions.

Rosenbloom explained, "Eric and I joined Doug's team not only because of the technology itself, but because we knew that the Deshpande Center would be a partner in building the business." This May, they were announced runners-up in both business plan competitions.

"If it were not for the Deshpande Center grant, I would not have entered into the business plan competitions," chuckles Hart. "It was not something I had even considered."

Congratulations to the whole team, and best of luck in your new venture!

Pre-proposal deadline for fall 2003 grant round - June 10
The next round of the Deshpande Center grant program is just around the corner. Are you a faculty member in the MIT School of Engineering? Do you have a research idea that could make a significant impact on the marketplace? Do you believe one of your ideas or inventions holds great promise for commercialization if you just had a little extra funding and assistance to make it a reality?

The Deshpande Center grant program may be just what your idea needs. The deadline for the 3-page pre-proposals has been extended to midnight, June 10th.

Note that to be eligible, projects must have a PI or co-Investigator that is a faculty member in the MIT School of Engineering. Funding is provided for research done on campus only.

Ignition Forum on Portable Energy gets thumbs up: Series begins fall semester
Often success comes from taking risks, and the first Deshpande Center Ignition Forum was no exception. What happens when you bring industry experts in portable power onto campus for a discussion about market opportunities, rather than technologies? A wide range of guests appeared on campus to find out, including faculty, engineering students, Sloan students, investors, and entrepreneurs.

The panelists were:

  • Brian Barnett - Managing Director, TIAX, LLC
  • Jason Howard - Energy Technologies Manager, Motorola
  • David Prend - Partner, Rockport Capital Partners
  • Kailash Shukla - Power Engineer, US Army OFW-TPO

The discussion was moderated by Prof. Jefferson Tester.

After a panel discussion, guests mingled at the reception and discussed potential solutions to the challenges posed by the panelists. The feedback was very positive. We included Ignition Forums on Data Security and Post-Genomic Challenges in Pharma as part of IdeaStream 2003, and we are now planning a series of Ignition Forums for the upcoming academic year.

Faculty Entrepreneurship Workshops resume June 16
MIT Faculty are invited to join us on Monday, June 16 for another Faculty Entrepreneurship Workshop and lunch entitled, "Tales from MIT Venture Mentoring Service: Most Common Entrepreneurial Mistakes and How to Avoid Them."

The presentation will be given by MIT Venture Mentoring Service (link to http://web.mit.edu/vms/) (VMS) Chairman Alec Dingee, founder of seven successful businesses, and VMS Director Sherwin Greenblatt, first employee and president of BOSE Corp. VMS is a program offering help to MIT-affiliated entrepreneurs. Their contact with over 100 MIT start-ups so far has given them unique insight into the variety of challenges they face.

The Workshop is restricted to faculty interested in the issues around starting companies. Faculty members with or without start-up experience are welcome.

MIT summer short courses offered by Deshpande grant recipients
Several Deshpande Grant Recipients are offering week-long courses at MIT designed for professional audiences, including:

  • Robert S. Langer on Advances in Controlled Release Technology, June 23-27
  • Yang Shao-Horn on Fuel Cells and Batteries, August 4-8
  • Marc Baldo and Vladimir Bulovic on Organic Optoelectronic Devices (offered summer 2004)
  • In addition, our faculty director, Charlie Cooney, is teaching two summer courses as well. Sponsored by the MIT Professional Institute, the MIT Summer Session offers unique opportunities for colleagues in industry and government to learn directly from MIT faculty. A complete list of Summer 2003 programs is available online.

    Until next time…

    Krisztina Holly
    Executive Director
    Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation