University of Maryland has recently graduated its first team from NSF's new 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); Chung-Ching Shen (Assistant Research Scientist) in ECE; and Dean Chang (Director, MTECH Ventures) in 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. and 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 team in the I-Corps program 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.
Bhattacharyya is highly enthusiastic about the SET Team's experience in the I-Corps program: "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." Bhattacharyya adds: "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."
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August 30, 2012