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Seven MIT research teams win Deshpande grants

Awarded $500K in total

The Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at MIT has announced it is awarding $500,000 in grants to seven MIT research teams currently working on early stage discoveries. These projects have the potential to make a significant impact on our quality of life by revolutionizing disease therapies, micro-manufacturing, wireless communications, web searching, semiconductors, drug discovery and hearing for the impaired.

Acting as a catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship, the Deshpande Center awards both Ignition Grants and Innovation Grants each spring and fall that fund proof-of-concept explorations and validation for emerging technologies. "Providing funding and support to early stage research projects helps accelerate their transition from MIT labs to the marketplace and thus to our daily lives," said Leon Sandler, the center's executive director. "The 'innovation ecosystem' in Boston and beyond has been an immense support in this endeavor, too."

The spring 2008 grant recipients are:

  • A New Architecture for Highly Efficient Broadband RF Transceivers: Joel Dawson. Very energy-efficient, high data rate transmitters for broadband wireless communications that will increase battery life in handsets and reduce heat generation in base stations.
  • Rapid Multiplexed Analysis for Molecular Diagnostics: Patrick Doyle. A new method to perform multitarget bioassays using micro-particles that could enable clinical bedside diagnostics and easier, less-costly diagnosis of disease (renewal from spring 2007 grant round).
  • Digital Ear Canal Scanner: Douglas Hart. An in-ear, 3-D digital scanner for custom-fitting hearing aids, resulting in better hearing for hearing-aid users.
  • Developing Novel Strategies to Arrest Biofilms: Susan Lindquist. The development of novel therapeutic strategies to combat difficult-to-treat bacterial biofilm infections.
  • Gallium Nitride High-Electron Mobility Transistors: Tomás Palacios. A new approach to the fabrication technology of gallium nitride semiconductors to reduce the cost and improve the performance of electronic products (renewal from spring 2007 grant round).
  • A Three-Dimensional Lithographic Microfabrication System: Peter So. A 3-D, two-photon microfabrication system to rapidly build high-resolution microscale structures.
  • Integrating the Deep Web with the Shallow Web: Michael Stonebraker. This project will provide sophisticated search capability for the "deep web" of pages dynamically generated from data entered into forms.

The Ignition and Innovation grants help recipients assess and reduce the technical and market risks associated with their innovations.

In addition to financial support, the Deshpande 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 the development of business plans or licensing strategies.

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 cofounder and chair of Sycamore Networks.

The Deshpande Center has provided approximately $8,700,000 in grants to 75 MIT research projects since 2002. Fourteen projects have spun out of the center as independent start-ups, having collectively raised more than $100 million in outside financing from investors.

MIT faculty interested in securing a Deshpande Center Ignition or Innovation Grant should submit a preproposal in May 2008 for the fall 2008 funding round. For more information on how to submit a pre-proposal, see:

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 19, 2008 (download PDF).

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