Mary Raber and Adrienne Minerick
Mary Raber, left, and Adrienne Minerick aim to join forces with someone who can help commercialize their new, hand-held device for determining blood type.
Kyle Johnston, David Shull, and Andrew Hoekstra
Left to right, Kyle Johnston, David Shull, and Andrew Hoekstra are searching for a mentor they hope will turn their new app into a successful business.
Yoke Khin Yap
Yoke Khin Yap hopes to partner with someone who can help bring his nanotech discoveries to the macro world of business.

Wanted: Mentors with Biz Savvy

It's not enough to have a great idea. For an idea to change the world, somebody has to make it real.


Michigan Tech is a mother lode of innovation, a gadget-y geyser of creativity and imagination. But moving these innovations to the market requires a team of individuals with complementary interests, experiences, and expertise. Michigan Tech has a deep bench of talented scientist-inventors looking to make connections with others who can round out their teams and help them move forward on commercializing early-stage technologies.

The fledgling entrepreneurs on the following pages are looking for a special kind of missing person: mentors, advisors, and partners with the business acumen to help shepherd their new ideas through the Valley of Death that lies between a cool discovery in the lab and successful commercialization.

That missing person may be you. If your passion is nanotechnology, health, auto safety, or killer apps, you may want to connect with one of these inventors. If something else lights your fire, get in touch. Chances are, somebody at Michigan Tech is working on it.

To learn more, contact Jim Baker '93 '95 '05 in the Office of Innovation and Industry Engagement at 906-487-3459 or jrbaker@mtu.edu.


Company

Microdevice Engineering

Adrienne Minerick '98, associate professor of chemical engineering, and Mary Raber, professor of practice, Institute for Leadership and Innovation


What is it?

A "lab on a chip" microdevice that can identify blood type and hematocrit, the proportion of blood that is made up of red blood cells.

What Makes it New and Unique?

This hand-held microdevice offers two tests in one at a fraction of the cost. It works quickly and simply by using electrical fields to draw a single drop of blood through channels the width of a human hair. Under these conditions, each blood type behaves in a unique way that's easy to identify.

Conventional blood-type tests cost from $15 for a home kit to $95 for an industry-standard lab test and require messy mixing of blood and antibodies. Currently, a separate test is required to measure hematocrit, which blood banks use to determine if a prospective donor qualifies to give blood or not.

How Will it Change the World?

Blood banks have the most to gain. This new microdevice would allow them to rapidly, reliably, and inexpensively determine blood type and hematocrit on site. Not only would they save money, they could also use the results to determine the best product for each donor to give (e.g. whole blood, red cells, plasma, etc.).

Ultimately, everyone would benefit. While donors give blood for free, the testing and processing expenses for a single pint of blood can exceed $200, and millions of pints of blood are used every year in the United States alone. This technology could lower the cost of saving lives.


Company

Divinare Health

David Shull, Andrew Hoekstra, and Kyle Johnston


What is it?

A mobile app that measures your heart rate, sleep quality, and activity level and recommends steps you can take to improve your health.

What Makes it New and Unique?

Plenty of e-gadgets, such as Fitbit, gather data related to personal fitness and tell you, say, how many stairs you've climbed. The Divinare Health software suite gives you personalized recommendations on how to improve your health based on that data. Plus, it will monitor information posted on your social media networks and offer helpful advice: for example, you might want to postpone a visit to your friend who has just come down with the flu.

How Will it Change the World?

This software has the potential to improve the health and fitness of anyone who uses it, which could have huge implications in the US alone, where healthcare costs are the highest in the world. The developers hope their software will eventually be able to predict your chances of getting cancer and heart disease and offer ways to lower your risk.


Company

Nano Innovations

Yoke Khin Yap, professor of physics


What is it?

A suite of nanomaterials that are highly heat conducting (ten times more than metals) and electrically insulating.

What Makes it New and Unique?

Most, if not all, heat-conducting materials also conduct electricity. Think copper.

How Will it Change the World?

These nanomaterials can draw heat away from the "hot spot" of electrical and electronic devices without causing a short circuit. This has advantages for all kinds of products, but here's what they could do for electric and hybrid vehicles, from the Chevy Volt and Ford Focus EV to the Tesla:

  • help them run smoothly without overheating
  • open the door to a redesign of the heat-management systems, reducing vehicle weight and yielding better mileage
  • cool the lithium ion batteries, making them safer and reducing the risk of fire (remember Boeing's embarrassing little incident with the Dreamliner?)