Computer Science Professor Lenore Blum will receive Carnegie Science Center's Catalyst Award on May 8 at Carnegie Music Hall. She is being honored for her work with keeping high-tech talent in the region and increasing the number of women in computer science.
Blum is the founding director of Carnegie Mellon's Project Olympus, which aims to bridge the gap between cutting-edge university research and economy-promoting commercialization for the benefit of the region.
"I am extremely honored and appreciative to receive the Carnegie Science 2009 Catalyst Award," Blum said. "In particular, I view the award as great recognition by the community for Olympus' goals and what we have been able to accomplish in just two years."
With a collaborative start-up environment, Olympus provides advice to start-ups, micro-grants and incubator space just off Craig Street in Oakland.
"Our aim is to help create a climate, culture and community that will enable our talent and ideas to grow in the region," Blum said.
Key to the program are Olympus PROBEs — where faculty, students and post-docs explore the commercial potential of their research. PROBE teams are guided by an in-house business advisor and embedded entrepreneur. Olympus also provides connections for students and faculty and the wider business community.
"In doing so, we work closely with the Carnegie Mellon Tech Transfer office, the Don Jones Center for Entrepreneurship and our vast network of advisors on campus and in the community," she said. "Our popular Show and Tells showcase Olympus PROBEs, budding talent, local start-ups, university research and guest perspectives for the regional civic and innovation/investment communities."
So far, the program has generated 16 PROBEs, launched five companies with eight in-process, organized 20 connect/outreach events — including eight Show and Tells — and it offers daily networking.
For some outside perspective of Olympus, see Raymond Luk's blog. Luk is an entrepreneur and investor who runs an incubator in Montreal.
"I realize the current economic times are tough. But I am hopeful that the recognition afforded by the Catalyst Award and validation of our goals and achievements by others will translate into the kind of support Olympus will need to continue and expand our work," Blum said.