As Ohio State continues to expand its role in the commercialization of research, it is important that we create an environment that facilitates and rewards research creativity and entrepreneurship. To support and stimulate entrepreneurial activity among our researchers, three university-wide awards were presented on November 6, 2013, to our most successful faculty, staff, and student entrepreneurs.
Innovator of the Year: Hesham El Gamal
The 2013 Innovator of the Year is Hesham El Gamal, professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Engineering. He is a world-renowned information theorist with key contributions to wireless communications that have been recognized by industry and academia. His research has led to the development of pioneering technology that holds the promise of revolutionizing the mobile video delivery industry.
Dr. El Gamal is a prolific inventor. His record includes 12 issued U.S. patents and four pending patent applications. His first commercialization success at Ohio State was the licensing of code design for a multi-antenna mobile system by Webskye, Inc. The designs were adopted as a foundation for the WiMax wireless standards.
Dr. El Gamal is co-founder and CEO of inmobly, an Ohio State start-up company. Inmobly, short for “intelligence in mobility,” uses the predictability of human behavior to design efficient resource allocation algorithms for mobile networks. By launching a series of apps, inmobly aims to tackle network congestion to deliver a better user experience.
The high-speed requirements of multimedia content are straining cellular networks, creating congestion and delays. Inmobly’s Predictive Automated User-Centric Loading (PAUL) technology overcomes the bandwidth crunch by preloading videos for on-demand viewing. PAUL identifies music and videos people like and downloads new content from sources such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, CNN and ESPN SportsCenter to their mobile device before the user tries to stream it from the Internet.
Inmobly’s technology, which has already been accessed by more than 400,000 end-users, is being considered by Verizon, Sprint-Virgin Mobile and Kajeet as a platform for their next generation mobile video delivery. Inmobly is also working with the university to build a new experience for Buckeye fans that will deliver personalized in-stadium mobile videos on smart phones.
Inmobly started with two developers and a $50,000 TechColumbus grant. In three years, the company has grown to 20 employees and has raised $650,000 towards future development, including $500,000 from TechColumbus’ Pre-seed funds.
Early Career Innovator of the Year: M. Monica Giusti
The 2013 Early Career Innovator of the Year is M. Monica Giusti, associate professor, Department of Food Science and Technology, College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Dr. Giusti has developed technologies that demonstrate the health benefits of natural pigments, providing innovative and practical solutions to the food industry in its search for healthier, more natural alternatives to the use of synthetic dyes.
Dr. Giusti’s research program focuses on the use of anthocyanins as alternatives to synthetic dyes. Anthocyanins are the natural pigments responsible for most of the orange to red to blue to purple colors in nature. These pigments are powerful antioxidants, believed to play an important role in the prevention of cancer and other diseases.
Despite their wide availability in nature, anthocyanins are difficult and expensive to isolate into pure forms. Dr. Giusti was granted a patent on the chemoprotective effects of anthocyanin-rich extracts, and has four additional patents pending. She is regarded as one of the top anthocyanin food chemists in the world.
Dr. Giusti is the chief scientist for AnthoScyantific, LLC, a start-up company based on her technology. The initial target market includes the medical, pharmaceutical, nutritional, and biological community. She is also co-editor of “Anthocyanins in Health and Disease,” the first book to summarize the advances in the field of disease prevention and amelioration by anthocyanins.
She was named the 2010 Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center’s Innovator of the Year. In 2011, she received the Outstanding Woman in Technology award from TechColumbus.
Student Innovator of the Year: Kinshuk Mitra
The 2013 Student Innovator of the Year is Kinshuk Mitra, a fourth-year biomedical engineering major in the College of Engineering. Kinshuk recognized that as we learn more about the mechanisms for cancer, there is a clear-cut need for a screening technique that is both sensitive and cost-effective. One of the earliest physiological signs of cancer are the cells that shed into the blood stream from primary tumors. Kinshuk developed a new biotechnology called OncoFilter that can isolate circulating tumor cells from human blood samples.
The technology has reached unprecedented levels of reliability, sensitivity and accuracy in isolating cells present in extremely low concentrations, leading to earlier diagnosis that is currently possible. The filter is cost effective, easy to use, and provides quicker results than other available screening tools. The provisional patent application for the OncoFilter technology was filed in April.
Kinshuk teamed up with entrepreneurial students from the Fisher College of Business to win the 2013 Ohio State Business Plan Competition. The team went on to earn a State 2 E-Team Program Grant from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance, which provides early state funding, professional business training and access to mentor coaching.
Kinshuk and the OncoFilter team have received funding from the Wright Center for Imaging, the Levinson Foundation at MIT and the Ohio Tech Angels Fund. Next steps for the team: developing prototypes to optimize the filter technology, applying for additional funding, and recruiting talent.
Kinshuk has become the student voice of innovation on campus. He was instrumental in the creation of INNO, a student innovation initiative that works to link passionate students and innovative research with exciting ventures. And, he is the founder of a course designed to teach students the art of invention and commercialization.
The Innovator of the Year and Early Career Innovator of the Year awards recognize Ohio State researchers who are working actively to promote commercialization of university intellectual property, through invention disclosures filed, patents applied for and/or received, technologies licensed, or spin-off companies formed. These activities support economic development in the Central Ohio region, and serve to attract companies that create a base of operations within the state. The creation of separate categories for more established researchers and for early career researchers allows cultivation of an entrepreneurial spirit among all of our investigators.
The Student Innovator of the Year award recognizes innovation and entrepreneurship among our students that has contributed to the development or commercialization of a new technology. This year’s Student Innovator of the Year award is sponsored by Sigma Xi, the scientific research society honoring excellence in scientific investigation.