Deshpande Center technology secures top prize in prestigious $50K Entrepreneurship Competition

Finalists give credit to Deshpande Center support and new i-Teams program

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (May 13, 2004 ) -- The MIT Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation (Deshpande Center) today announced that one of the business plans based on technology supported by the Deshpande Center was awarded the Top Prize at the 2004 MIT $50K Entrepreneurship Competition. Called Active Joint Brace, the company is developing an affordable, wearable, non-invasive brace that augments physical capability in people with spinal cord injuries and other disabilities. The device could reduce the $40 billion that the disabled currently spend out-of-pocket annually on physical therapy. The Deshpande Center also announced that a second grant recipient, Active Spectrum, made it to the final round of the competition.

Participants in teams credited Deshpande Center support, particularly the new Innovation Teams (or "i-Teams") program, for their achievement. Launched early this spring, i-Teams selects ambitious and highly qualified students from across campus to join teams devoted to evaluating commercial feasibility and creating go-to-market strategies for technologies within the Deshpande Center portfolio.

"Support from the Deshpande Center and the i-Teams class helped us create a focused team to build a business plan that encapsulates the enormous amount of data we've gathered and progress we have made," said Kailas Narendran, co-Investigator from the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering and one of the founders of Active Joint Brace. "The fact that for the last two years we haven't even made the $50K semi-finals, and are a winner this year, speaks volumes about what the Deshpande Center and i-Teams have done for us."

"We enjoyed the highest-quality finalists ever due in part to the efforts of the Deshpande Center and i-Teams," said Matt Richards, Co-Lead Organizer of the MIT $50K Entrepreneurship Competition. Co-Lead Organizer Dan Riskin added, "The MIT community really benefits from the Deshpande CenterĀ¹s financial support and market focus for disruptive technologies on campus. They are helping tap into the nearly $900 million in research being done on campus and turning some of the innovations into real business plans for the MIT $50K competition."

This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of the MIT $50K Entrepreneurship Competition, the nationĀ¹s premier business plan competition and an important economic engine for Massachusetts and beyond. In observation of this milestone, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney declared May 12 "Entrepreneurship at MIT Day."

About the MIT Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation

Dedicated to supporting leading-edge research and bridging the gap between the laboratory and the marketplace, the Deshpande Center was created in 2002 to serve as a catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship by supporting the research of MIT faculty and students, and facilitating collaboration among entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, innovative businesses, and MIT faculty. Part of the school of engineering, the Deshpande Center supports a wide range of emerging technologies including biotechnology, information technology, new materials, tiny tech, and alternative energy development.