MIT's Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation gains momentum; Issues first grants for 2003 supporting emerging technological advancements

Cambridge, Mass. (March 3, 2003) -- The Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation (Deshpande Center) today announced that is has issued its first round of grants in 2003. Selected from 34 pre-proposals in this round, the grants were awarded to MIT faculty in the school of engineering and support a wide range of emerging technologies, including tiny technology, information technology, and alternative energy innovations.

The Deshpande Center is part of the MIT School of Engineering and was established last through a $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 entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, innovative businesses and MIT faculty. The Deshpande Center supports a wide range of emerging technologies including biotechnology, information technology, new materials, tiny tech, and alternative energy development.

Announced today, the 2003 grant recipients are:

Nanocrystal non-Volatile Memory Devices: Vladimir Bulovic
This new innovation could lead to smaller, faster, and lower voltage memory for computers, cameras, and other electronic devices by combining organic chemistry and quantum dot technology.

Contrast Reduction For Digital Photography and Video: Fredo Durand
This new image processing technology could be the key to taking full advantage of new high dynamic range digital cameras

Slow down warning system for safe highways: Eric Feron
This unique innovation would make the highways safer for drivers, even if a small fraction of vehicles had them installed.

Image Analysis For Digital Cameras: William Freeman
This technology would enable cameras to recognize objects making it easier to edit photographs and possibly enhance them automatically.

Reusable Deformations For Computer Animation: Jovan Popovic
This technology would make the once very time-consuming work of animating characters much faster and easier.

Metallization on Solar Cells: Emanuel Sachs
This method for applying circuitry to solar cells could make them much more affordable and energy-efficient.

Novel Air Electrode Designs for Metal-Air Batteries and Fuel Cells: Yang Shao-Horn
This new electrode technology could lead to an inexpensive, environmentally friendly, and efficient energy storage method.

Bridging Nano-Lithography with Industrial Production: Francesco Stellacci
This innovative approach could solve the most elusive challenge with nanotechnology: scaling the manufacturing process.

"It gives me great pleasure to announce the first round of grants for 2003," said Krisztina Holly, Executive Director of the Deshpande Center. "We look forward to adding these new projects to the research portfolio and enhancing their value through the many collaborations we have fostered since the formation of the Center."

Charles Cooney, Faculty Director added, "I am thrilled with not only the number of proposals submitted by the faculty, but by the quality and potential of the proposed research."

Announced today, the Ignition grants provide seed funding of up to $50,000 each and were awarded to benefit those projects in the early, more conceptual stages. The grants help catapult risky ideas into research that, if proven successful, would have broad implications on technological innovation. Judged by the Deshpande Center's steering committee and an extended panel of experts, grant recipients are selected based on the novelty and potential impact of the proposed research programs.

In addition to receiving research funding, grant recipients are introduced to a host of business resources on and off campus. Since its launch, the Deshpande Center has been building bridges between academic research and its commercialization. In addition to awarding two rounds of grants, the Center has been facilitating collaboration through successful events including a Faculty Workshop featuring speaker Professor Robert Langer. The Deshpande Center and the $50K Competition partnered to co-host a panel discussion on intellectual property and a team-building dinner. In November, the Center broke new ground by bringing together the MIT research community with distinguished entrepreneurs and venture capitalists for the Deshpande Center's Open House.

"It is truly rewarding to reflect on the momentum and progress the Center has made since the launch," said Desh Deshpande, co-founder and chairman of Sycamore Networks. "With the partnerships we have in place, I am confident that the disruptive technologies that we are funding will make a significant impact on the market."

The Deshpande Center has been collaborating with resources on the MIT campus including the Entrepreneurship Center, Tech Link, Venture Mentoring Service, Industrial Liaison Program, MIT Enterprise ForumĀ® as well as business resources and venture capitalists across the country. Further, Deshpande Center grant recipients have served as case studies for Sloan School of Management classes. In December, the Deshpande Center began a monthly newsletter that already has more than 700 subscribers. Additionally, the Center is pleased to announce that one of the teams from its inaugural grant round, led by Doug Hart, was the recipient of a MIT Sloan School $50K Entrepreneurship Competition preliminary $1k award.

"MIT has always been a fertile ground for technology development across the country," said Mark Gorenberg, General Partner, Hummer Winblad Partners. "By infusing MIT technology with sound business expertise and opening the doors early to the entrepreneurial communities, the Deshpande Center is setting the stage for the next wave of great technological advancements.

Dedicated to supporting leading-edge research and building the gap between the laboratory and the marketplace, the Deshpande Center plans to award $15 million in Ignition and Innovation Grants over the next four years. The next grant round will be awarded in the fall of 2003.