Innovation Showcase celebrates discovery, entrepreneurial spirit

Photo/Mike Lovett

Where did fashion, carrots, calculus and next-generation research collide? At the Brandeis Innovation Showcase held in the Shapiro Science Center on Nov. 3.

Nearly 200 Brandeis students, faculty, staff and alumni as well as area business leaders attended the Hassenfeld Family Innovation Center’s first-ever gathering to celebrate the efforts of creative and entrepreneurial participants in the SPROUT and SPARK incubator programs.

The Office of Technology Licensing organized the event. It provided a platform for 20 awardees of SPROUT (bench research) and SPARK (social, educational, business and computer science research) grants to present their projects to peers, industry thought leaders and potential future corporate collaborators. Their pioneering solutions ranged from a HIV vaccine approach to CalcU, an online application to serve as a course aid for calculus. Among the attendees was Alan Hassenfeld, co-chair of the Board of Overseers of Brandeis International Business School, as well as chair of Hassenfeld Family Initiatives, whose gift made the innovation center a reality.

Each presenter used seed funding from the SPROUT and SPARK programs to move their innovations from the university closer to the marketplace to make a positive impact in the world. The event “demonstrated our mission in action – to nurture and support entrepreneurial activity at Brandeis,” said Rebecca Menapace, executive director of the Office of Technology Licensing and the Hassenfeld Family Innovation Center and associate provost for innovation. “We’re also providing tools and resources to build meaningful collaborations and synergies to further the development and potential commercialization of these bright ideas across our campus.”

Presenters included Brandeis students, faculty and staff. Grady Ward ’16, who developed the Web-based calculus tool, praised the innovation center 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?’”

Attendees were provided Monopoly money and encouraged to “invest” in the three innovative ideas they ranked the highest. Winners were announced at the close of the event. In addition to enjoying the competitive vying for the most “investments,” presenters had the chance to speak with potential partners about advancing their research. “I had the opportunity to talk to others about their experiences with the SPARK program and their experiences with the broader funding community,” said Ward.

Taking top honors was “Carrot Fiber as an Antidiabetic Food Agent,” research promoting the ability of the soluble and insoluble fiber from carrot pomace to prevent, delay or reduce the occurrence of type 2 diabetes mellitus. “ITCs as a New Cancer Therapy” placed second, and third place went to “FashionSnapp,” a smartphone application that crowd sources real-time fashion advice.

Want to be a part of the next Brandeis Innovation Showcase and see your idea for positive change become a reality? The Hassenfeld Family Innovation Center, a partnership between the Office of Technology Licensing and Brandeis International Business School, is currently seeking applications for the next round of SPARK funding and will be starting another round of SPROUT in the spring. More information is available through the Office of Technology and Licensing.

Categories: Business, Research, Science and Technology, Student Life

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