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House Building Robots, Traffic Avoidance System, Personalized Drug Dosing, Bone and Tissue Repair Gel, and Improved Diagnostic Techniques Represent 2011 USC Stevens Ideas Empowered Translational Funding Program

Six high potential USC startups complete Phase I and receive $498,700 in proof of concept funding.

LOS ANGELES, March 7, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Stevens Institute for Innovation today announced that six innovative ideas have advanced through phase I of the Ideas Empowered Program and have received $498,700 to advance their high impact research to the next stage of development and investment. 

31 proposals were submitted in the summer of 2011 and a prestigious review panel of more than 50 members of the LA business and academic community chose nine finalists to participate in Phase I of the program. Phase I, taking place in the Fall of 2011, included industry experts conducting idea feasibility analysis and pitch presentation workshops, guidance on issues ranging from intellectual property to regulatory affairs, and support from MBA students at the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

"Ideas Empowered is about more than just funding some of the most exciting and game changing ideas at USC," explains Krisztina "Z" Holly, Vice Provost for Innovation at USC and the founding Executive Director of the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation.  "It's an opportunity for research teams to work together with industry experts, successful entrepreneurs, investors, and MBAs to advance their ideas to the point where they can attract outside investment."

The following six USC research teams have successfully completed the program and have received a specific amount of funding to take their idea to the next stage of development:

Project Title: "Clear-Path" – Transportation route planning for smart phones
Team Leader: Cyrus Shahabi 
School: Viterbi School of Engineering
This team is developing a route-planning application for smart-phones and online map platforms that can quickly find the fastest way to get from Point A to Point B, by taking real-time and future traffic congestion into consideration. ClearPath will save commuters time and money, and make delivery businesses more efficient. (more)

"The ideas empowered program is enabling us to be part of that exciting last step of transferring millions of dollars of research funds to a product that impacts the people's lives.  This is indeed a one-of-a-kind program in academia." - Cyrus Shahabi

Project Title:  Contour Crafting – Deployable robotic system for low cost rapid construction of houses
Team Leader:  Behrokh Khoshnevis
School: Viterbi School of Engineering
This team is developing robotic structures that will quickly construct buildings one layer at a time using data from 3-D CAD designs. The system radically reduces the time and cost of construction, and allows for high quality low-income housing, rapid construction of emergency shelters, and on-demand housing in response to disasters. (more) (website)

Project Title: HistoMosaic: A Novel Superior Technique for Tissue Analysis in   Colorectal Cancer Diagnostics and Research
Team Leader: Emil Kartalov 
School: USC Keck School of Medicine
This team has developed a technique/device for tissue analysis that combines high throughput and high sensitivity, and generates a high-resolution genomic map of the tissue. When applied to colorectal cancer, the technique will identify drug resistance, improve healthcare, and reduce costs. (more)

Project Title:  RightDose: Decision-Support Software for Individualized Drug Dosing
Team Leader: Michael Neely 
School: USC Keck School of Medicine
This team has developed a decision-support software tool which tailors medication doses to individual patients and is integrating this software with electronic medical records systems in hospitals, so more patients can benefit from personalized medicine. (more)

"The Ideas Empowered Program is about so much more than funding. It's about bringing your scientific breakthrough to the market and working with enthusiastic professionals who help you to do just that." - Michael Neely

Project Title:  Injectable Gel System for Cleft Palate Repair
Team Leader:  Bo Han 
School: USC Keck School of Medicine
This team is developing gel-like materials for repairing bone and soft tissue defects resulting from congenital disorders such as cleft palate. These injectable bone repair materials will allow patients to recover faster, reduce hospital stay, and minimize the need for secondary surgeries to replace failed implants. (more)

Project Title:  High-Frequency High-Resolution Diagnostic Ultrasound Systems for Ophthalmic Imaging
Team Leader:  K. Kirk Shung / David Kim
School: Viterbi School of Engineering
This team is developing a high-frequency, high-resolution, ultrasound system for imaging of the posterior segment of the human eye, which provides a wider field of view, higher frame rate, and improved spatial resolutions than conventional systems, and will lead to improved diagnosis in ophthalmology. (more)

This is the second year of the program, created and managed by the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation, a university wide resource in the office of the Provost that helps faculty and students turn their ideas into a new product, technology, or startup company.  In 2010, the pilot year of the program, the USC Stevens Institute distributed $459K to seven teams. Two of the 2010 projects are now startups: Cred.fm: Music based social networking game and Fluid Synchrony: Micro Implantable pumps for drug delivery and together they have secured $360,000 in additional financing.

"The mentoring we received through the Ideas Empowered program took our proposal to a whole new level," said Professor Ellis Meng of the Viterbi School of Engineering. "My team is now ready to tackle future funding processes and pave the way for adoption of our idea in the market."

The Ideas Empowered program is funded, in part, by an influential board of charter members, including James C. Blair, General Partner at Domain Associates; Ken Klein, USC Trustee and President of Wind River; David Lane, General Partner at ONSET Ventures; Andy Rappaport from the Rappaport Family Foundation and a General Partner at August Capital; and Mark Stevens, USC Trustee and General Partner at Sequoia Capital.

About the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation
The USC Stevens Institute for Innovation (http://stevens.usc.edu) is a university-wide resource in the Office of the Provost at the University of Southern California that helps identify, nurture, protect, and transfer to the market the most exciting innovations from USC.  It also provides a central connection for industry seeking cutting-edge innovations in which to invest. As part of this role, the USC Stevens Institute manages the university's intellectual property portfolio stemming from its approximately $650 million annual research program. Furthermore, the USC Stevens Institute develops the innovator as well as innovations, through educational programs, community-building events, and showcase opportunities.

Media Contacts:
Ian Murphy, USC Stevens Institute
[email protected]

SOURCE USC Stevens Institute for Innovation

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