THE SPARK FUND
Funding Northeastern’s transformational technologies
Meet the SPRING 2022 Spark Fund Awardees
SPARK FUND AWARDS
One year, $50,000 | Up to 7 awards available
Awards support commercially valuable inventions (from any field) in early stages of proof-of-concept development.
VALIDATION AWARDS: For inventions at Technology Readiness Levels 2 – 3, successful applicants will have formulated novel concepts, applications, methods or compositions and partially validated their theories. In the life sciences, experimental proof-of-concept has been established via in vitro results. In all other fields, laboratory-based studies and validating strategies should be underway.
COMMERCIAL PROTOTYPE AWARDS: Technology Readiness Levels 4 – 5.
For successful life science applicants, the invention has been validated in vitro with in vitro testing underway or complete. For all other fields, technologies are approaching near final commercial performance and will use the Spark Fund to complete minimum viable commercial products.
- The CRI is partnering with the College of Science on an award earmarked for COS researchers.
- The College of Engineering is joining with the CRI to co-sponsor an award dedicated to advancing research from the lab of a COE Assistant Professor.
Spark Fund Uses
Spark Fund grants may be used to advance the commercial prospects of inventions in many different ways, including:
Building a commercially ready prototype
Animal testing to generate in vivo data needed to attract commercial partners
Developing manufacturing processes that enhance yield, speed, or cost
Repurposing or enhancing technology to meet industry-specific needs
Eligible applicants include Northeastern University Principal Investigators (PIs) with novel, pioneering, and commercially valuable technologies currently in the proof-of-concept stage. Your technology must be disclosed to the Center for Research Innovation before applying. At least one Northeastern PI with the duty to assign must either lead or oversee the proposed project. No outside PIs will be allowed. Any prior intellectual property required to implement the technologies must also have been assigned to Northeastern.
Questions about eligibility? Contact Joel Bresler.
For additional Northeastern funding programs and entrepreneurial resources visit the CRI website.
Show me the information needed to apply.
- How well qualified is the PI to oversee and successfully execute the proposed activities?
- Does the proposing team have the expertise and experience to conduct and successfully execute the proposed activities?
- Does the proposed activity have the potential to significantly advance the knowledge and understanding within the relevant field of study?
Novelty and Technical Advantages
- How technically significant are the novel and/or disruptive aspects of the proposed technology compared to the current state of the art?
- Is there a significant market opportunity that could be addressed by the proposed technology?
- How large is the market for the proposed technology and the current products that are derived from similar technologies?
- Does it seem reasonable that this research can be translated into a product or service that will have high commercial success?
- Does it seem reasonable that the resulting intellectual property (e.g. patents) will be licensable externally?
- If a future spin-out is contemplated, is a spin-out strategy the best commercialization path for this technology?
- How significant are the potential societal benefits of this technology?
- Is it likely that the project milestones will be achieved within the proposed budget and timeline?
- Is the project plan reasonable, well-organized, and well-justified?
- Will the project likely result in Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 4 – 5 upon completion?
- Does the project have access to the required materials, equipment, personnel, compounds, etc.?
Letters of Support
- How relevant are the letters of support to the proposed project?
- Are the letters just from academic and technical collaborators, or also commercial and industry sources?
- How strong are the letters?
- Is the budget reasonable?
- Are the project costs limited to what is deemed reasonable and allowable?
Representing multiple colleges and disciplines, the first cohort of Spark Fund awardees presented diverse and exciting projects to the Center for Research Innovation.
With expert assistance from the Spark Fund strategic advisory board, the CRI carefully evaluated all thirty applicants and selected six research opportunities and ventures to fund and grow.
DIRECTOR, GAP FUNDING & SPECIAL PROJECTS
Center for Research Innovation
Safa Jamali, COE
The Jamali lab is advancing Rheopoint, a science-based AI solution for engineering applications with focus on fluid mechanics and soft material design and discovery. Customer industries range from consumer products, to chemical and pharmaceuticals, and oil and gas.
Tania Konry, BOUVE
Konry Lab produces rapid, low-cost, highly accurate, and readily available point of care testing (POCT) solutions for microbial pathogen detection.
Tomasso Melodia, COE
The Melodia lab is developing CellOS, a data-driven network operating system to automate the control of 5G/6G cellular networks and maximize their performance. CellOS combines softwarization and virtualization principles, network slicing and intent-based networking with data-driven solutions to automate network control and deliver high-performance services to mobile users.
Sara Rouhanifard, COE
The Rouhanifard and Wanunu labs are refining ViralNPQ, a cost effective and easy-to-use device that collects all viral measurements using the same sample. This solution images and quantifies the presence of a viral genome with single-molecule accuracy.
RAYMOND FU, COE
Pathfind uses patented deep learning model compression techniques to transform once costly AI algorithms into customized lightweight processes. Pathfind enables complex computer vision and machine learning programs to run in real time on simple devices – bringing cutting-edge innovation to telemedicine, in-home fitness and other markets.
Neel Joshi, COS
Spinout: Tantu Therapeutics
Tantu is developing innovative microbe-based therapeutics expressed and delivered to the site of intestinal lesions to treat Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and other gastrointestinal diseases without systemic side effects.