NSM researchers awarded technology commercialization grants

Two researchers from the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics have received $30,000 in technology commercialization grants from the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center (MTTC).

Karsten Theis, assistant professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, is one of five recipients of a $25,000 Technology Investigation Award. The awards support the demonstration of a new technology''s viability. They can be used to develop a prototype, to gather data that show proof of concept, or to demonstrate how a technology compares to existing technologies and its competitive advantages.

Theis’ project, “High Throughput Vapor Diffusion Technology for Nanogram Scale Crystallization of Biological Macromolecules,” is aimed at developing a vapor diffusion technology for more efficient macromolecular crystallization that is significantly better than existing technology. It would minimize sample size to nanoscale while maintaining high success rates and ease of setup of the vapor diffusion technique. Without having to spend more per experiment, structural biologists will save substantially on costs for preparation of macromolecules while increasing the flexibility of the experimental approach and allowing for high throughput experiments.

Stephen Battisti, senior software engineer in the Computer Science Department, was awarded a $5,000 Technology Assessment Award to study commercial applications for Online Web-based Learning (OWL) Education Software.

“This funding is important for researchers who are tasked with proving to investors there is a market for their product and demonstrating its effectiveness. The Investigation Awards allow the researcher to assert that ‘this technology can do what I have been telling everyone it can do.’ The Assessment Awards allow the researcher to answer the question, ‘Is there a commercial market for the technology, and if so, what kind of market is it?’” said Rana Gupta, managing director of Navigator Technology Ventures and chair of the MTTC.

Based in the President’s Office, MTTC was created in 2004 as a program in the Massachusetts Economic Stimulus Bill. Its goal is to support technology transfer activities from public and private research institutions to companies in Massachusetts. The center works with technology transfer offices at Massachusetts research institutions; faculty, researchers, and students who have commercially promising ideas; and companies across the commonwealth.