Invention + Innovation = Commercialization

LEADING EDGE: Entrepreneurs explain their wares at the Hassenfeld Family Innovation Center's Innovation Showcase.
Mike Lovett
LEADING EDGE: Entrepreneurs explain their wares at the Hassenfeld Family Innovation Center's Innovation Showcase.

What do a fashion app, an online calculus tool and a special formulation of carrot fiber have in common?

They’re all inventions of budding Brandeis entrepreneurs. In November, 20 inventive students, faculty and staff debuted novel product ideas at the inaugural Hassenfeld Family Innovation Center’s Innovation Showcase.

Each presenter used seed funding from the Office of Technology Licensing’s SPROUT (bench research) or SPARK (social, educational, business and computer science research) incubator program to develop their ideas.

Nearly 200 Brandeis students, faculty, staff and alumni, and area business leaders came to the presentations and “invested” in their three favorite inventions using Monopoly money. Grady Ward ’16, who developed a Web-based tool to help students learn calculus, praised the innovation center, a partnership between the Office of Technology Licensing and Brandeis International Business School, for “getting people thinking critically about ways to turn their ideas into something tangible and to consider, ‘What would the next steps be if I were to receive this funding?’”

“The event demonstrated our mission in action — to nurture and support entrepreneurial activity at Brandeis,” says Rebecca Menapace, executive director of the Office of Technology Licensing and the Hassenfeld Family Innovation Center, and associate provost for innovation. 

The winning invention was a product that uses soluble and insoluble fiber from carrot pomace to prevent, delay or reduce type 2 diabetes mellitus. A potential cancer therapy using compounds derived from broccoli took second place. Third place went to FashionSnapp, a smartphone application that crowdsources real-time fashion advice.

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