Indian investors help MIT prof. to explore his idea
Douglas P Hart, a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has won a support of $50,000 to convert his dream to reality. The Professor's new startup, Lantos Technologies, which developed a 3-D scanner that hopes to update the current generation of earphones and hearing aids by precisely fitting them to the dimensions of the ear canal, is set to lock up $1.5 million in funding. "We're hoping people will be able to walk in the store and have their ears scanned like people got their ears pierced today," said Hart, who sold his last startup for $95 million. "I wouldn't have known the first thing about doing all of this, if the people from the Deshpande Center led me through," recalls enthused Hart.
The Deshpande Center was established at the MIT School of Engineering in 2002 to increase the impact of MIT technologies in the marketplace. Since its inception the Center has funded more than 80 projects with over $9 Million in grants.
By providing academics like Professor Hart a bridge to the business world, MIT is in the forefront of a movement involving a handful of universities nationwide that work closely with investors to ensure that promising ideas are nurtured and turned into successful start-ups.
At first glance, the centers look like academic versions of business incubators. But universities are getting involved now at a much earlier stage than incubators typically do. Rather than offering seed money to businesses that already have a product and a staff, as incubators usually do, the universities are harvesting great ideas and then trying to find investors and businesspeople interested in developing them further and exploring their commercial viability.