MIT Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation celebrates one-year anniversary of promoting innovation and entrepreneurship; Issues largest grant round to date

Newest Grant Round includes Speech Recognition, Cardiac Screening, Wireless, Environmental, and Fuel Efficiency Technologies

Cambridge, Mass. (October 27, 2003) -- The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation (Deshpande Center) announced today that it has issued its largest grant round since the launch of the Center one year ago. The Deshpande Center awarded 13 grants selected from 45 proposals. The seven Ignition grants, which fund proof of concept explorations, and six Innovation Grants, which help further research towards commercialization, total $1.3 million. The grants were awarded to MIT faculty in the School of Engineering and support a wide range of emerging technologies, including medical technology, tiny technology, communications, information technology, and environmental innovations.

The Deshpande Center is part of the MIT School of Engineering and was established in 2002 through an initial $20M gift from Jaishree Deshpande and Desh Deshpande, the co-founder and chairman of Sycamore Networks. The Deshpande Center was created to serve as a catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship by supporting the research of MIT faculty and students, and facilitating collaboration among faculty, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and innovative businesses. The center helps researchers bring their ideas to fruition by supporting market-driven innovation, assisting with the intellectual property process, and enabling collaboration throughout the R&D phase.

Announced today, the Fall 2003 grant recipients are:

Low-cost amplifiers for 3G wireless base stations: Chiping Chen
A novel power amplifier for wireless base stations could improve the performance of third-generation wireless networks and help create new markets worth $100 billion.

Ionic colloidal crystals: Yet Ming Chiang
The ability to manufacture ionic colloidal crystals—a new family of materials with fascinating properties—could lead to exciting applications in ultra filtration, drug delivery, photonic fingerprinting, and numerous other areas.

Powered limb braces to help the mobility-impaired: Woodie Flowers
A low-cost, easy-to-use medical device could help millions of disabled people achieve increased independence, and save $40 million millions in out-of-pocket expenses for physical rehabilitation and assisted living.

New engine to replace diesel: Bill Green
A new take on the fuel-efficient, low-emission HCCI engine would be more robust and less complex than the original and could prove to be a long-awaited alternative to the polluting diesel engine.

An accurate, inexpensive cardiac screening system: John Guttag
A computerized cardiac screening system that is as non-invasive, inexpensive, and fast as a stethoscope, but much more accurate, and it could be a boon to cardiac diagnostics.

3-D imaging technology to enable minimally invasive surgery: Doug Hart
A novel 3D image-processing system could greatly enhance the medical procedure of endoscopy and enable robotic-assisted, minimally invasive surgery.

The personal chemistry system: revolutionizing the chemical lab: Klavs Jensen
A Personal Chemistry System (PCS), compact and capable of rapid discovery and development of new products, would revolutionize the chemical laboratory—and chemical research as we know it.

A new approach for speech recognition: Tom Knight
A risky new processing approach could be the breakthrough necessary to finally make speech recognition a reality.


3D circuit boards to enhance electronics at low cost: Dave PerreaultThree-dimensional printed circuit boards (3D PCBs) would provide better performance than current 2D technology and could capture a substantial portion of the $30 billion annual market in PCBs.

A low-cost way to produce microelectronic devices: Caroline Ross
Simple, inexpensive magnetic devices could replace complex and costly silicon-based semiconductors used in a variety of applications, from smart cards to merchandise tags.

A radical steelmaking method that could revolutionize the steel industry: Don Sadoway
Electrolytic steelmaking, a radical carbon-free method of producing steel, could clean up the industry and take control of a $200 billion worldwide market.

A new device for non-invasive tissue biopsy: Peter So
A new type of endoscope using two-photon imaging could diagnose disease without tissue removal and create a new market for non-invasive tissue biopsy.

Advanced algorithms to increase wireless network capacity: Greg Wornell
Really smart antenna algorithms have the opportunity to increase the capacity of wireless networks to prepare for the upcoming explosion in demand for wireless video services.

“We have come along way since the launch,” said Krisztina Holly, Executive Director of the Deshpande Center, “and it is truly rewarding to announce our largest grant round on our one-year anniversary and reflect on the tremendous momentum and progress the Center has made. It is thrilling that we have already begun to see our sponsored projects demonstrating such success.”

Since the Center’s formal launch in October of last year, the Center has made significant progress in building bridges between academic research and the marketplace. Over the past year the Center has awarded three grant rounds totaling $3 million. In addition to awarding grants, the Deshpande Center facilitates relationships with a host of business resources on and off campus. To date, the Center has successfully facilitated collaborations through events including four Faculty Entrepreneurship Workshops; two Ignition forums; an open house; and the Deshpande IdeaStream Symposium, which sold out at 270 attendees and featured a keynote from Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Additionally, the Deshpande Center this fall is piloting a new program called the “Catalyst Program.” In this program, volunteers (“Catalysts”) from the business community make a one-year commitment as a liaison between MIT faculty, the Deshpande Center, and industry. Catalysts serve as advisors to the Executive and Faculty Directors and keep track of a small portfolio of sponsored projects.

The Center also is pleased to report on a host of success stories from its portfolio of emerging technologies. The Center announced earlier this year that one of the teams from its inaugural grant round, led by Doug Hart, formed a company called Brontes and was a runner-up in the MIT $50K Entrepreneurship Competition. He has received a second grant to explore a new application of their 3D imaging technology and the company is beginning to seek VC funding. Additionally, Mechanical Engineering Prof. Woodie Flowers’ team, which won an Ignition Grant last fall and have received follow-on funding for a project called Active Joint Brace for Assisted Motion and Rehabilitation, has been working with Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital on their device that has shown initial promise with patients in reducing the time and increasing the quality of rehabilitation for spinal cord injury. His team is currently working on miniaturizing the joint brace system to prepare it for clinical studies next year, with their ultimate aim to start a company that would market the device. Additionally, Prof. Robert Langer’s team has been in discussions with a major medical device manufacturer and venture capital firms regarding his tissue engineering technology that, with Deshpande Center funding, is ready to enter clinical trials by early next year.

“The Deshpande grant came at a crucial time, providing the resources needed to demonstrate the technology,” says Prof. Douglas Hart, inventor of the 3D imaging technology being funded by the Center. “The charter of the Deshpande Center is new to academia. It provides an opportunity to move technology from the lab into the market.”

About the Deshpande Center
Until now, obstacles in the innovation process – between initial idea and commercialization – has caused research to be left undeveloped in the laboratory. The Deshpande Center supports research in emerging technologies and helps reduce the risk around investing in new technologies.