Entrepreneurship, innovation and technology at FIU

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In order to develop and nurture an entrepreneurial culture in the nation, the National Science Foundation (NSF) established the Innovation Corps Teams Program (I-Corps). The program aims to transfer scientific and engineering discoveries into commercially viable products and services. I-Corps connects NSF funded researchers with the business community and entrepreneurs to foster innovation and technology transfer.

One FIU team recently participated in the fastpaced and rigorous program. The “Innovative Hurricane Damage Mitigation Systems” team included Dr. Arindam Gan Chowdhury, Dr. Amir Mirmiran, PhD student Mohammadtaghi Moravej and Dr. Pedram Zohrevand, the team’s mentor. Dr. Zohrevand is an Assistant City Engineer of the City of Fort Lauderdale. The team was looking at the commercialization feasibility of new high performance hurricane damage mitigation technology developed by Dr. Chowdhury and Dr. Mirmiran.

The “Analytical Chemistry for Everyone: What’s in your Air?” team will be going through the NSF I-Corps program during the summer. The team includes Dr. José Almirall, Dr. Natasha Kreitals (visiting postdoctoral fellow at the IFRI) and Mr. Digno Caballero (mentor), a former Senior VP of Strategic Projects at Bacardi. The team will be looking at the commercialization potential of Dr. Almirall’s research in Capillary Microextractor of Volatiles (CMV) technology as a potential research laboratory consumable for scientists currently using SPME and Tenax tubes for air sampling, and for other applications for use by the general public. The team recently participated at e-Merge Americas event held in April.

If you have received NSF funding in the last five years, have interest in the NSF I-Corps Teams Program and would like further information, please contact FIU’s Director of Technology Management and Commercialization Peter Hernandez at (305) 348-3051. Teams representing biomedical engineering technologies from Dr. Ranu Jung and Dr. Anuradha Godavarty finished first and second place at the annual StartUp Quest Pitch Day. StartUp Quest uses technologies from the different state universities in multiple disciplines ranging from software engineering to bioscience. At this year’s Broward Pitch Day, FIU sponsored three teams. Each team was paired with two mentors who are CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business people from various backgrounds. The mentors have extensive experience in bringing technology to market and providing support to team members throughout the 10-week preparation process.

The winning pitch was presented by team Hercules MedSystems. Their technology was taken from the Adaptive Neural Systems (ANS) laboratory that created an advanced prosthetic system to restore sensation to an upper-extremity amputee. The system has sensors embedded into the prosthetic hand that help provide the amputee with the sensations of fingertip force and hand opening. The system development received federal support from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering and the National Institute of Child Health Development.

The second place winners, team LightScan Health Systems, worked with Anuradha Godavarty and her research on a hand-held breast cancer pre-screening device. Team LightScan created a business plan and an investor pitch that focused on the affordability and noninvasive nature of the device. It has the potential to provide widespread pre-screening to breast cancer patients throughout the world. This technology received federal support from the National Cancer Institute.