Innovation and Entrepreneurship

INNOVATION has always been at the core of how UMass Amherst contributes to society. It’s part of our land-grant roots. Our entrepreneurial spirit is driven by curiosity and creativity.
JIMGIPE

BERTHIAUME CENTER FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP

The Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship promotes entrepreneurship and innovation across the UMass Amherst campus and throughout the region and state. Winner of the 2016 Outstanding Emerging Entrepreneurship Program Award from the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, it has established itself as the hub of a cross-campus network of scholars, innovators, and entrepreneurs with a threefold mission of supporting research, education, and practice to transform ideas into business realities.

The center serves roughly 1,500 students and faculty per year through mentoring services, accelerator programs and space, a speaker series, and wide-ranging events, including the campus-wide Innovation Challenge, Idea Jam sessions, Social Entrepreneurship Day, the Hult Prize @UMass, and ULaunch, at which aspiring entrepreneurs meet businessmen, engineers, coders, and graphic designers to create teams and launch start-ups.

UMASS INNOVATION INSTITUTE

The UMass Innovation Institute accelerates connections between the advanced science and technology available in our campus laboratories and private business in order to grow industrial-sponsored research. Its streamlined processes enable industry collaborations to launch quickly and responsively to market and business cycles while maximizing benefits to all parties.

Technology Transfer FY 2017 By the Numbers

The Technology Transfer Office moves technologies beyond the lab bench to become commercially viable products, processes, and services. It licenses campus technology to corporate partners and supports the development of new businesses derived from UMass Amherst technology.

  • 3 New start-ups
  • 74 Invention disclosures received
  • 57 New patent applications filed
  • 16 Patents issued
  • 11 License and option agreements executed
  • $792,700 Total revenue received

Start-up Companies

TREATY LLC RELEASES FOGKICKER

Fogkicker VialTreaty LLC has released its first product: Fogkicker, a highly effective, long-lasting antifog treatment for snorkeling and scuba-diving masks. The company was founded by Professor Ken Carter, postdoc Yinyong Li, and Marc Gammell ’16, who serves as CEO. Fogkicker is an advanced biopolymer developed by Carter and Li; its patent rights have been licensed to the company. The product is already being sold in over 100 dive shops around the world as well as on Amazon.com. The company is developing customized formulations for preventing fog on sunglasses, motorcycle-helmet face shields, bathroom mirrors, and car windshields. Treaty LLC also plans to develop the antifog agent for use in more critical applications, such as preventing fogging on medical imaging devices such as endoscopes.

GENOVERDE BIOSCIENCES INC.

Using biotechnology to make plants with improved genetic traits, Genoverde is developing loblolly pine trees with 20 percent more wood density than conventional crops. This translates to enhanced
wood production and increased revenues for farmers, as such trees provide more wood pulp for paper, saw timber for lumber, and wood pellets for energy than currently harvested trees. Trees with
this patented cell-wall technology also sequester more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thus helping to combat climate change. The company was founded by Professor Sam Hazen and Michael
Harrington, a former senior research fellow. Harrington, Genoverde’s CEO, is developing one of the company’s products in “co-laboratory” space made available for start-ups by the UMass Amherst
Institute for Applied Life Sciences and is supported by an NSF Small Business Innovative Research Program grant.

BIOCURRENT TECHNOLOGIES LLC

Smaller and smaller components are increasingly needed to meet the demand for ever smaller, more capable electronic devices. The future of miniaturization lies with ultra-thin wires known as nanowires for making components like transistors and sensors. Most nanowires are made of carbon or silicon nanotubes, and are expensive and environmentally undesirable to make. Professor Derek Lovley, Research Associate Professor Kelly Nevin, and colleagues have shown that the bacteria geobacter, readily found in soil, produces biological nanowires that can be harvested. Production of these natural biowires is expected to be inexpensive, and the bacteria are self-sustaining. They perform as well as conventional nanowires and have comparatively long fibers and controllable conductivity levels. Mark Miller is CEO; Lovley and Nevin continue to develop sensors that take advantage of the unique properties of natural biowires.

AUTOMATED CONTROVERSY DETECTION LLC

Professor James Allen and Shiri Dori-Hacohen ’17G have developed an artificial intelligence system for analyzing social media and digital news streams in order to automatically detect controversies and crisis situations. Automated Controversy Detection LLC (AuCoDe) was founded to commercially develop this technology, with Dori-Hacohen serving as CEO. An initial application is to improve automated stock trading. Many computer trading systems automatically buy and sell stocks based on price and market trends but don’t take business-related controversies into account. Big and small controversies regarding companies, products, and customers can quickly make stock prices rise or fall. AuCoDe’s system will serve as an additional input in automated stock trading so that its customers can use these insights in complex trading strategies.

LICENSE FOR ANTICATARACT EYE DROPS

UMass Amherst recently licensed a new technology to Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. that promises to revolutionize the treatment and prevention of cataracts and presbyopia, which necessitate the use of reading glasses as we age. The technology is based on early-phase discoveries by polymer physicist Professor Murugappan Muthukumar and Ben Mohr ’13G. It provides a simple way to interrupt the aggregation of lens proteins, a key player in the development of cataracts and presbyopia.