Indian American founded MIT centre completes one year

Friday, 31 October 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW YORK: A research centre established at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) by Indian American IT whiz Gururaj Desh Deshpande has celebrated its first anniversary, claiming successes in research and networking with the business world.

The centre was launched with an initial $20 million grant in January 2002. Deshpande is the co-founder and chairman of Sycamore Networks.

"We have come a long way since the launch," says Krisztina Holly, executive director of the Deshpande Centre, "and it is truly rewarding to announce our largest grant round on our one year anniversary and reflect on the tremendous momentum and progress the centre has made. It is thrilling that we have already begun to see our sponsored projects demonstrating such success."

This week the centre awarded six grants totalling $1.3 million to support emerging technologies including medical technology, tiny technology, communications, information technology and environmental innovations.

The grant awardees were chosen from 45 proposals by researchers and faculty members in the School of Engineering.

In the last one year, the centre has awarded three grant rounds totalling $3 million. In addition, Holly says, it facilitated relationships with a host of business resources on and off campus.

Additionally, the Deshpande Centre this fall is piloting a new programme called the "Catalyst Programme" in which volunteers ("catalysts") from the business community make a one-year commitment as a liaison between MIT faculty, the Deshpande Centre and industry.

Catalysts serve as advisors to the executive and faculty directors and keep track of a small portfolio of sponsored projects.

One of the teams the centre sponsored, led by Doug Hart, formed a company called Brontes and was a runner-up in the MIT $50K Entrepreneurship Competition.

Hart has received a second grant to explore a new application of their 3D imaging technology and the company is beginning to seek venture capital funding.

"The Deshpande grant came at a crucial time, providing the resources needed to demonstrate the technology," says Hart, inventor of the 3D imaging technology being funded by the centre. "The charter of the centre is new to academia. It provides an opportunity to move technology from the lab into the market."

The Deshpande Centre supports research in emerging technologies and helps reduce the risk around investing in new technologies.

Source: IANS
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