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MIT Entrepreneurial Center Awards Technology Grants

MIT campus, Cambridge, Mass.

MIT campus, Cambridge, Mass.

A division of Massachusetts Institute of Technology that promotes entrepreneurship awarded new grants to eight research teams working on early-stage technologies. The Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at MIT says the grants total $706,000 and cover projects ranging from semiconductor manufacturing to retinal disease detection.

The grants support early-stage research and development of new solutions, funding proof-of-concept studies and validation for emerging technologies. The center says that since September 2002, it funded some 100 projects with more than $12 million in grants. That support resulted in the formation of 27 companies attracting more than $350 million in financing, and with some 400 employees.

The new awards include a project to develop oral rather than intravenous delivery of chemotherapy drugs to reduce side affects and allow for more effective cancer treatment. Another drug delivery project is creating a system for treating injured joints to prevent arthritis, particularly when immediate treatment of joints and cartilage can prevent long-term damage and the onset of arthritis.

Two new projects funded by the Deshpande Center address vision and eye health. One team is developing a technique for administering medications in the eyes of cataract surgery patients directly from the newly implanted lens, thus eliminating the need for eye drops. Another team is building a portable retinal imaging device to make it easier and less expensive to detect diabetic retinopathy.

Big data analytics are the focus of a new Deshpande Center project, this one to create a high level programming language for complex tools needed to analyze big data. Another project analyzes imaging data, to extract useful information from noisy medical, geological, or industrial images to detect features that would otherwise be hidden.

An MIT team is investigating carbene molecules, usually reactive and unstable, as catalysts for attaching various materials to semiconductor surfaces. A different team is developing an inexpensive sensor to detect low concentrations of gas emitted by crops that act as indicators of ripeness, and help optimize the harvest, storage, transportation and distribution of food.

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, co-founder and chairman of Sycamore Networks.

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Photo: Pablo Sanchez/Flickr

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