Final Innovation Sprint Updates Lay Foundation for New Heights
With the spring semester coming to an end here at Tufts Gordon Institute, MS in Innovation and Management students presented their end-of-the-semester Innovation Sprint updates, highlighting the milestones they’ve reached in developing their ventures.
The presentations lay the foundation for future development ahead of the third Innovation Sprint this summer where students can choose to continue their existing ventures, begin a new one altogether, or take on an internship.
Catch up on the latest innovative ideas from the MSIM program:
Team member: Christian North
Aether Nootropics is planning to create a beverage that incorporates nootropics; Christian says the idea originated from seeing increased stress that young professionals are facing. To validate the sentiments of stress and anxiety among young adults, Christian conducted a study to find out.
“This study has roughly 400 college students and young professionals with 83% reporting high to extreme levels of stress regarding work, and 95% reporting high to extreme levels of stress to perform,” he said. “In response, our generation is looking for ways to improve performance.”
Christian’s research further found that two important characteristics in the development of lifestyle beverages are taste and perceived safety.
“We differentiate Aether on four different points based on what our generation cares about: taste, form factor, transparency, and ingredient mix,” said Christian with an emphasis on natural aspects.
Cerobex Drug Delivery Technologies
Team members: Lia Aftandilian, Kayla Fisher, Darian Matini and Ben Webb
Cerobex Drug Delivery Technologies is a novel lipid nanoparticle-based drug delivery platform that leverages the work of Dr. Qiaobing Xu, Associate Professor at Tufts University’s School of Engineering and School of Medicine.
In the time since its conceptualization in the MSIM program, the group has won first place in the Tufts Entrepreneurship Center’s $100k New Ventures Competition, the Elevator Pitch Competition at University of Arkansas’ Heartland Challenge, and achieved many more milestones.
In terms of applications, the group aims to work with conditions relating to the blood-brain barrier, like Tay-Sachs Disease, focused on future milestones including the FDA approval process. For a previously untreatable disease like Tay-Sachs, what makes Cerobex different than other solutions on the market? “Our platform can be customized around the therapeutic cargo, requiring no modification to it. It also remains complex and functional after crossing the barrier, enabling intracellular delivery. These particles are also inexpensive and easy to manufacture,” said Kayla.
Team member: Ajay Parthasarathy
According to Ajay, ePayque is a “blockchain-powered escrow and smart-contract service that helps protect agencies from fraudulent or delayed payments.” ePayque, he says, was developed following interview research his team conducted that revealed that many agencies face the problem of ensuring on-time and accurate payments for their work.
Ajay says the process for using the service consists of just a few steps. First, an agency subscribes to ePayque, and sets it up on their company website. Then, a client signs a smart contract and pays their invoice through the ePayque dashboard, during which time ePayque holds the money. Finally, when the agreed milestones of the contract are met, the money is released to the original agency.
During the latest Sprint update, Ajay shared that the group successfully tested the platform with 2 agencies. “Both agencies and the clients showed confidence in ePayque, saying they felt safer after the entire process,” said Ajay.
Team members: Victor Kao and Kan Zhou
According to Kan, im asia is a “cultural exchange hub” for students in Grades 4 through 8 with classes focused on cultural exchange, civic responsibilities, and cultural self-confidence. Victor and Kan developed im asia following deep market research which revealed a need for education that highlights different Asian cultures and ethnic groups.
“We will be partnering with existing cultural organizations to take advantage of their resources and structures,” said Victor. For their pilot program, each organization will engage in fun cultural activities like craft making, food tasting, and storytelling.
im asia plans to operate as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that generates operational revenue through donations & grants, festival fundraisers, conference & panel tickets, and class/activity fees.
Team member: Grant Tilson
“Throughout my schooling career, I’ve always been interested in highly technical fields, but I’ve also always had a passion for music,” said Grant, who noted the involved process of developing music. “[My venture] Poem uses AI to turn your written words into music and art.”
Poem is a platform that connects poets, rappers, musicians, and artists through a mobile app to create and express themselves. Through the AI engine, creating music is “as easy as putting a filter on a photo,” said Grant.
Poem plans to leverage a subscription model and users can receive a percentage of any revenue generated by their song. Poem will also offer a free version of the app without AI features.
Team members: Nawar AlQabandi, Mina Karamercan, and Spencer Langdon
For patients undergoing physical therapy, the process can be long and involved. The current ways of treatment can present some challenges too like remembering to complete at-home exercises, and pain, and loss of motivation, suggests the Resano Recovery team.
“To solve this, we have come up with our two-part support system consisting of a wearable knee sleeve and an app,” mentioned Nawar. “[We’re] currently focusing on the knee because we found that 25% of all injuries are knee injuries and from our interviews, we found that about 40 to 45% of all physical therapy patients are patients with knee injuries.”
The knee sleeve, said Nawar, will be developed using patented Smart Thread technology from Dr. Sameer Sonkusale, a Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Tufts University’s School of Engineering.
This summer, the group will also participate in the Tufts Venture Accelerator to gain mentorships and resources to further their business idea. By July, the group aims to have a wearable sleeve prototype.
Team members: Faris Alquaddoomi, Ethan Frisch, and Megan Morrissey
Spectral Key is a waste heat recovery system that’s targeting glass manufacturers. “About 60% of the energy used to melt glass is lost as quality waste heat at ideal temperatures. This makes the glass industry the perfect initial customer target. We are also looking into future applications in the steel and cement industry as secondary customer targets,” said Megan.
In terms of what sets them apart, the group mentioned that they increase profit for glass manufacturers using Tufts thermophotovoltaic technology by increasing efficiency at their plants. Thermophotovoltaics convert heat/waste heat into electrical energy, according to Megan.
“On top of increasing manufacturing efficiency, we are also able to decrease carbon emissions. We are able to do this with our system being 100% renewable and being able to reduce electricity pricing at the glass plants,” said Ethan.
The group plans to operate on a B2B business model. “Our vision is to become a leader in the renewable energy space alongside solar power. We’re helping the world get to next-to-zero emissions one factory at a time,” said Faris.
Viva La Motion
Team members: Nadya Ganem, Sujin Jung, Jennifer Nutter, and Mark Panetta
For children, medical conditions can pose challenges when it comes to playing with other children, sparking developmental concerns and feelings of being left out. Viva La Motion is looking to change that.
“Our mission is to help children with complex bodies feel empowered and play without limits,” said Mark. “Our end users are children with physical disabilities, with an initial focus on wheelchair users.”
Nadya added, “Our goal is to build a portable AR game platform with adaptive controls that can be used on a playground to bridge the gap between able-bodied children and children with complex bodies.” She continued, “While some kids can play our game through movement, other kids could use adaptative controls, such as larger buttons, head array, or eye-tracking. These adaptive controls and our suite of games will allow all children to play competitively on the same level.”
According to Sujin, the group’s next step is to prototype and validate their concept with users, going through iterations with the help of parents, children, schools, and other organizations.
Team members: Jack Donohue, Nathan Niemiec, Su Hnin Pwint, and Noor Semaan
As organizations look to diversify their talent acquisition and recruitment efforts, Zinque is looking to create opportunities for students and help companies in doing so.
“Zinque is a talent provider platform that helps a diverse set of junior students who are pursuing STEM degrees acquire the skills and experience they need post-graduation,” said Jack. “Zinque will offer these students mentorship, training, workshops, and experiential learning projects facilitated by businesses before placement into internships after their junior year – all free of cost [to the student].”
The group says its competitive advantage comes from several characteristics: its STEM focus, provision of projects, cohort-based learning experiences, inclusivity, and job placement efforts.
With the semester well-spent developing the venture, Nathan reflected on all their group has accomplished.
“This spring, we’ve learned more than we could’ve ever imagined and we’re grateful for the experiences we’re taking away from this venture,” said Nathan.