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UNM student teams win $34,000 to begin marketing new technologies

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Ten new technologies developed by University of New Mexico faculty and students are taking their first steps to market with $34,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps program.

The NSF awarded a $444,000 grant in August to UNM’s Innovation Academy and the Science and Technology Corp., the university’s tech-transfer office, to finance, train and mentor student-led efforts to seek markets and develop commercialization strategies for new technologies. That will allow UNM to pump small grants of $3,400 each into about 100 student teams over the next five years. UNM selected the first 10 teams this month.

That includes four created by students and six others developed by UNM faculty, said Innovation Academy Executive Director Rob DelCampo.

“Most universities with NSF iCorp funding focus solely on faculty inventions, but we chose a unique approach that includes student innovations as well,” DelCampo said.

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Student creations include:

— an app to instantly turn photos of things like course schedules and events into files for programs on mobile devices

— an artificial intelligence platform that recognizes feelings and emotions in language

— a novel shower chair for people with disabilities or injuries

— an inflating and deflating bed pad to relieve pain in pressure points

Faculty inventions include:

— an insulin delivery system for painless drug injection

— a feeding tube insertion device to avoid patient injury

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— a remote-sensing system for continuous rail road and bridge inspection

— an autonomous drone for insecticide application in remote areas

— a new method to bind bamboo in building construction

— software to improve video streaming quality

Each technology team has one student leader, plus an academic adviser and a business mentor. Students will spend 10 weeks researching markets and developing strategies to move forward.

A panel of judges will evaluate their findings in December to determine which technologies and strategies are worth pursuing. Those deemed viable become eligible to apply for $50,000 NSF grants to continue their efforts.

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