MIT Deshpande Center awards $600,000 in grants to seven faculty research teams

From a revolution in weaving to the next generation of flat-panel displays, research projects push the envelope of innovation

Cambridge, Mass. (March 23, 2005) -- The Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) today announced it awarded grants totaling $600,000 to seven faculty research teams to help them find ways to commercialize their innovations. The research projects include a revolutionary new way to weave fabric, a technology that will enable the next generation of flat-panel displays, a new way to mass-produce nanotechnology devices, medical implant coatings for "smart" sequential drug delivery, a way to dramatically accelerate discovery of new drugs, a breakthrough in production of fine chemicals, and a new liquid compound with extraordinary medical properties.

"The Deshpande Center's mission is to provide MIT innovators with financial and other support early in the discovery process to accelerate the academic, social, and economic impact they can make with their ideas," said Krisztina Holly, Executive Director of the Center. Previously open only to applicants from MIT's School of Engineering, the spring 2005 round of grants initiated the Center's outreach to the entire MIT academic community.

"We are delighted to be able to have a broader impact than ever, with grants awarded to seven research teams in diverse departments including Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and Materials Science and Engineering," Holly said.

Every fall and spring, the Deshpande Center awards $50,000 Ignition Grants, which fund proof-of-concept explorations, and Innovation Grants ranging from $50,000 to $250,000 to help recipients assess and reduce the technical and market risks associated with their innovations. In addition to financial support, the Center's network of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and academic and legal experts helps recipients assess the commercial potential of their innovations and make decisions that accelerate progress toward development of a business plan or licensing strategy. All projects are featured at the Center's annual IdeaStream Symposium at MIT in April.

Since 2002 the Center has awarded grants to 44 applicants totaling more than $4.9 million. To date, two grant recipients have spun out as new, venture-capital-backed companies, another project has been licensed for commercial use, one team has received a critical patent on its innovation, and one team won the grand prize in the prestigious MIT $50K Entrepreneurship Competition last year.

The spring 2005 grant recipients are:

Fast discovery of ion channel-targeting drugs: Angela BelcherThis nanotechnology-based approach to monitoring key proteins could open up new drug markets worth billions.

New light-emitting device for flat-panel displays: Vladimir Bulovic
A new quantum-dot-based light-emitting device that lowers manufacturing costs and dramatically improves picture quality could accelerate growth of the $35-billion market for flat-panel displays.

New compound stops bleeding instantly: Rutledge Ellis-Behnke
A new transparent compound that not only stops bleeding instantly but also can be operated through and breaks down harmlessly within the body has the potential to revolutionize surgery and trauma care.

Implant coatings for sequential drug delivery: Paula Hammond
"Smart" drug coatings that can conform to medical devices of any shape (e.g. stents, bone implants, pills, and microparticles) and that allow the release of multiple drugs at varied times could make multiple surgical procedures and drug dosing schedules a thing of the past.

Fine chemicals in one step: Timothy Jamison
A one-step process of coupling bulk chemicals to produce fine chemicals creates a new economic equation for the multi-trillion-dollar fine chemicals industry and one of its main customers: pharmaceuticals.

Short-warp weaving for fast-changing fashions: Samir Nayfeh
A new way of weaving cloth could disrupt the upscale fashion market by enabling clothing production schedules to meet rapidly changing demand.

Nano-contact device lithography: Francesco Stellacci
Much in the same way the printing press revolutionized the creation of reading matter, the nano-contact printing technology being developed in this renewal project enables mass production of nano devices currently built one at a time.

About the MIT Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation

The Deshpande Center is part of the MIT School of Engineering and was established through an initial $20 million gift from Jaishree Deshpande and Desh Deshpande, the co-founder and chairman of Sycamore Networks. It serves as a catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship by supporting leading-edge research and bridging the gap between the laboratory and marketplace. The Deshpande Center supports a wide range of emerging technologies including biotechnology, medical devices, information technology, new materials, "tiny technologies," and environmental innovation.