INDIANAPOLIS and TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Indiana University Research and Technology Corp. and Rose-Hulman Ventures have been partnering since 2010 to develop prototypes of high-tech inventions that can be commercialized by industry. The partnership facilitated work on a record eight projects during the 2016 calendar year, bringing the overall total to 11 since it began.
The collaboration makes it possible for engineering students and project managers at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology to create prototypes of devices invented by researchers at Indiana University. Students receive practical experience, and, as is the practice, Rose-Hulman Ventures does not retain any intellectual property rights.
The 2016 projects were:
- A device to make skin biopsies more uniform and efficient.
- A lower-cost alternative to prefilled saline bottles used in emergency rooms.
- A device to improve the safety of skin grafting.
- A noninvasive device to monitor nerve activity in the heart.
- Cloud-based peer-feedback software for educators.
- A device to standardize the force directly applied to soft tissue during massage.
- A device that transmits vibrations to reduce biofilm formations on prosthetics.
- A conical motor that minimizes the air gap in an electric DC motor.
Jennifer Finefield, senior technology manager at IURTC, said IU researchers are skilled at envisioning devices to address specific needs. But sometimes their designs have features that impede their being practically manufactured. She said the design and engineering expertise of project managers and student interns at Rose-Hulman Ventures plays a valuable role in the product development process.
"The design IU researchers initially sketch will undergo a lot of changes before it reaches even the first prototype," she said. "There needs to be a lot of detail in the design. They work with Rose-Hulman Ventures' engineers to identify all the parts that need to be made and their dimensions, and how to put them together. This collaboration helps determine what is needed for the goal of the prototype."
Finefield said that having a prototype can strengthen the value proposition when she and her colleagues meet business leaders who may have an interest in licensing and commercializing the technology.
"Not only does a quality prototype allow us to have something in hand to show to others, but it can also be used to collect preliminary data to show the results from using it," she said. "Having a prototype makes it easier to show the device's features and benefits to a company and the eventual end user."
Lilly Endowment Inc. support to IURTC and Rose-Hulman Ventures helped offset development costs associated with the projects completed in 2016.
Mitch Landess, director of business development and operations at Rose-Hulman Ventures, said that working with IURTC has created an ideal educational partnership for Rose-Hulman and IU.
"There is a rich set of innovations percolating at IU, and IURTC is a sort of one-stop shop for working with those innovations," he said. "The diversity provides a nice mix of disciplines, industries and challenges that can involve a wide range of talents at Rose-Hulman. IURTC is able to articulate and manage a framework of suggested milestones that offer the IU inventors a path for moving their innovations from concept to reality."
Landess noted that not all innovations follow the same road map to success, and in many cases Rose-Hulman Ventures engineers have enhanced a device's functionality and design characteristics through the process of working with the client from concept to tangible prototype.
"It's a journey in stages unique for each innovation," he said. "The role of IURTC technology managers in ordering those stages, with defined objectives, really helps to bring clarity to what needs to be achieved in prototype iterations for both the IU inventors and the Rose-Hulman Ventures engineers.
"When working with inventors, the biggest challenges are almost invariably trying to figure out how to work on the right things in the right order. IU inventors are extremely fortunate to have the expertise and insights of IURTC in that regard. Then, Rose-Hulman Ventures engineers and student interns help bring those exciting ideas to the marketplace in order to help others. After all, solving problems is what engineers do."
Finefield praised Rose-Hulman Ventures on providing engineering students with real-world experiences.
"These aren't random projects to be worked on and then shelved once a semester ends," she said. "The students are working on devices that could become products sold on the market and improve people's lives. The collaboration is providing these students with early-stage manufacturing, developing and engineering experience."
About Indiana University Research and Technology Corp.
IURTC is a not-for-profit corporation tasked with the protecting and commercializing of technology emanating from innovations by IU researchers. Since 1997, IU research has generated more than 2,700 inventions resulting in more than 4,100 global patent applications being filed by IURTC. These discoveries have generated more than $135 million in licensing and royalty income, including more than $112 million in funding for IU departments, labs and inventors.
About Rose-Hulman Ventures
Rose-Hulman Ventures represents a unique operational model for university/industry interaction. Clients seeking innovative solutions to industrial technology challenges, while maintaining confidentiality, engage Rose-Hulman Ventures' full-time engineering staff and a multidisciplinary team of student interns. Rose-Hulman Ventures offers a cost-effective, market-driven approach to bring engineering design ideas to reality. Intellectual property always stays with the client.