Carnegie Mellon University
October 24, 2014

Carnegie Mellon I-Corps Site Chooses Teams for Inaugural Cohort

By Mark Burd / 412-268-3486, Byron Spice / 412-268-9068

PITTSBURGH—Fifteen teams have been chosen to work at the Carnegie Mellon University Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Site, designed to create an effective and replicable process to commercialize innovations based on customer discovery and product adaptation.

The objective of the I-Corps Site is to help students and faculty members hone their skills, collaborate with industry professionals and entrepreneurs, and transition their research out of the lab and into commercial sectors. As a vehicle for promoting university innovation, entrepreneurship and growth, the program leverages CMU's acknowledged strength in encouraging and fueling entrepreneurship as well as building relationships with internal and external partners in the business community.

The 15 teams are comprised of faculty members, alumni and students at the undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. levels. The companies cover enterprises ranging from adaptive traffic signals, to on-the-go food options, to lightweight, durable air freight containers.

The 2014 CMU I-Corps Site teams include:

  • AbiliLife: designs products that provide spinal comfort and support;
  • Accessivist: an informational resource for the access-challenged community - a nationwide ratings and reviews system for those utilizing wheelchairs and assistive walking devices;        
  • Ancure, LLC: a medical device coating company that aims to treat brain aneurysms using controlled release of biologics;
  • BreatheWise: a device that measures the level of oxygen remaining in individual oxygen tanks;
  • Carbon Freight: produces airline freight containers made of carbon-fiber composites that are lighter weight, more durable and easily repaired than current ultralight containers;
  • Digest-O-Mat: creates integrated waste processing units that convert compostable materials into fertilizer and usable methane gas;    
  • Expii: a one-stop destination for truly exciting and interactive expositions, empowering users to create rich and adaptive content on an open platform;
  • Gastronome Foods: a proprietary technological approach to make on-the-go foods, such as pancakes and desirable on-the-go baked foods with nutritional value for the pediatric and geriatric markets;    
  • Innovesca: a food technology company that produces high-quality, all-natural ingredients with optimized nutrition from underutilized plants in developing regions;
  • LumiShield: produces environmentally responsible, cost-effective coating solutions;
  • PillowCastle: a game that teaches how to understand and use perspective to solve problems;
  • Salix Lignopolymers: produces additives for concrete to increase viscosity, reduce water usage and improve strength;
  • Surtrac: creates technology that implements an adaptive traffic signal control to move traffic more efficiently and reduce wasteful car idling;        
  • Teratonix: makes an energy harvesting diode that can convert ambient heat into electricity for powering sensors, cellphones, laptops and room AC; and
  • Visantica: creates revolutionary machine-learning based solutions providing architects, engineers and designers with unparalleled object recognition and 3D modeling capabilities.

In June 2014, the National Science Foundation awarded a three-year, $300,000 grant to the Carnegie Mellon Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) to create the I-Corps Site on campus. CIE was created in 2012 to support the culture of innovation at Carnegie Mellon and to accelerate the commercialization of university research and innovative ideas.

The creation of the CMU I-Corps Site has been a collaboration among several members of the CMU community. I-Corps was started by CMU President Subra Suresh when he was the director of the National Science Foundation. The principal investigator (PI) on the project is Lenore Blum, co-director of the CIE. Co-PIs are Randal E. Bryant, former dean of the School of Computer Science, currently on sabbatical leave; Robert Dammon, dean of the Tepper School of Business; David Mawhinney, co-director of the CIE; and Robert Wooldridge, director of the Center for Technology Transfer and Enterprise Creation. The program will combine CMU's curricula with curricula from other I-Corps programs.