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Clark School graduates ECE/Mtech team from NSF's Innovation-Corps

Clark School graduates ECE/Mtech team from NSF's Innovation-Corps

The University of Maryland recently graduated its first team from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation-Corps (I-Corps) startup accelerator program. UMD's I-Corps Team consisted of Shuvra S. Bhattacharyya, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS); ECE Assistant Research Scientist Chung-Ching Shen; and Dean Chang, director of venture programs for the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech).

I-Corps is a new program that teaches Silicon Valley lean startup best practices to the top scientists and researchers in the U.S. It has been featured in the New York Times, San Jose Mercury News, National Public Radio, and Nature. The I-Corps team of Shen, Bhattacharyya, and Chang, called Streamlined Embedded Technologies (SET), is focused on technology transfer in the area of innovative hardware and software that enable development of advanced sensor networks, including wired and wireless sensor networks across the domains of environmental monitoring, video networks, surveillance, defense, and building automation.

Each I-Corps team consists of an Entrepreneurial Lead, a Principal Investigator, and an I-Corps Mentor who brings knowledge and experience about business and technology transfer to the team. Shen, Bhattacharyya, and Chang participated in these roles, respectively. Through two months of intensive exploratory interactions with close to 100 customers from industry, interleaved with videoconference meetings with the I-Corps instructors, the SET Team members collaborated to develop a commercialization strategy for technology that has been developed over the past years in the Maryland DSPCAD Research Group, which is jointly affiliated with ECE and UMIACS.

"While we still have a long way to go to translate our technology into a successful, scalable commercial venture, we now are armed with knowledge, scientific processes, and practical experience on how to drive our technology transfer effort forward in a systematic and less risky way," said Bhattacharyya. "What we learned from the I-Corps Program, along with the opportunity for intensive collaboration with Dean Chang and Mtech, has allowed us to reach, within a period of a couple of (extremely intense) months, a level of understanding that would have otherwise taken years and probably resulted in many costly mistakes and mis-directed efforts."

September 5, 2012


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