Mass Innovation Nights 108
March 14, 2018
Mass Innovation Nights’ March event was held on the campus of Brandeis University and featured startups with Brandeis connections, founded by students, alumni, or faculty of Brandeis University.
Mass Innovation Nights 108: Gosman Sports Center at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA
Every month, Mass Innovation Nights features presentations from the host, the “Expert Corner” experts, and exhibitors who win a pre-event vote on the Mass Innovation Nights website. Presenters as a result of the pre-event voting were GreenChoice, Themagenix, Relational Coordination Analytics, and WorkAround. Awards were also given based on at-event voting. At-event winners were GreenChoice, Thermagenix, WorkAround, and Articulate Biosciences.
I’ll take a quick run through the companies in attendance; you can follow the links for more information about them. And please do. As is often the case with university-affiliated startups, there’s some heavy-duty science involved in some of these products, making my brief, not-a-scientist descriptions below almost-certainly insufficient for those with a better knowledge of the problems these products are solving.
Modibrace is a new kind of back brace for solioisis treatment, a modifiable brace meant to replace the current one-part braces. Though Modibrace’s two-part brace was an initial advancement, at the event, Modibrace’s improved three-part brace was prominently discussed. Please, though, with my admittedly-non-medical bacground, I’ll not go into any more detail; if this is an area that interests you, check out Modibrace’s website and contact Modibrace for more information. It looks like it will be a welcome advancement for those who require the braces.
Thermagenix produces ThermaStop, ThermaGo, and ThermaStop-RT, three reagents that improve results in DNA and RNA testing. More specifically (and possibly more correctly, since it’ll be a direct quote), they, according to the MIN description, “improve product yield and specificity in PCR amplifications.” That covers (lightly) the science portion; as a number-cruncher, through my discussions at Thermagenix’s booth, I heard “faster,” “less expensive,” and “more accurate,” and that’s good enough for me.
Articulate Biosciences was showcasing its injectible viscoelastic gels for treating diseases like arthritis. Well-explained by the display and representative at the booth, assisted by having few small containers of the gel on hand, this is a product we can all imagine potentially benefiting from in the future.
GreenChoice offers a browser-based way to online-shop for groceries responsibly, with its trademarked “GreenScore” allowing shoppers to create their own personal profiles, setting their own “responsible shopping” preferences based on how important different scored criteria are to them. Products are scored on freshness, nutritional value, health safety, animal welfare practices, corporate sustainability, and transparency. The product targets millennials thanks to their dual position as early adopters of online shopping and consumers with a high propensity toward socially conscious shopping behavior.
Sclervey is a – and I’ll quote directly from the MIN description here – “scleral topographer which maps the shape of the sclera for the creation of specialty scleral contact lenses.” The startup’s website does a nice job of showing how Sclervey is able to create a 3D image to enable custom lens fitting for more complex eye diseases that can’t be helped with typical glasses or contact lenses.
WorkAround is a service that allows companies to source online work to refugees around the globe. This provides low-cost, talented workers for companies while providing work to refugees who are often not allowed to work in their local communities while under refugee status. Per WorkAround’s website, the available workers are highly-skilled and prescreened, with 84% having a college education. Types of work mentioned by WorkAround include data entry, translation, research, transcription, image tagging, digitzation, and data scrubbing with pricing beginning at $10 per hour.
Cryo-cell‘s Cryo EleMent™ reduces the cost of cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) for biomedical and drug research. If those words mean something to you, this descriptive poster, which Cryo-cell displayed at the event, may provide you with more detail. As I understand, it allows proteins to be grown more quickly and inexpensively for the purpose of research. The handouts the team provided at the booth contain contact information for the Office of Technology Licensing at Brandeis University, if you’re looking for more information.
Vata Verks caught my imagination at the event with a product that allows building managers to monitor water usage. Vata Verks’ devices are attached to water meters and measure the magnetic fields created by the meters themselves as they measure water usage.
Relational Coordination Analytics‘ RC Survey is a user-driven software solution that measures complex working relationships that affect organizational performance. Connected with some of the organizational behavior theories I learned back in business school, the RC Survey provides data that supports where and how improvements can be made to enhance the effectiveness of inter-departmental, inter-office, and other intracompany relationships. Presentation examples included the healthcare and air travel industries; the company’s client list includes several major healthcare organizations.
Cleanfield Capital uses big data and predictive analytics to bundle brownfield projects with significant environmental impacts into investment opportunities of interest to investors.
The evening’s experts were Pito Salas of the Brandeis Computer Science Department; Ben Gomes-Casseres from Brandeis’ International Business School; Eva Kaniasty, founder of RedPill UX, LLC; Neil McLaughlin from TCF Law Group; and Ian Roy from the Brandeis University MakerLab.
As with past MIN event summaries, I’ve done my best to accurately portray the products I saw exhibited based on the literature I read and conversations I had with attendees; hopefully I’ve succeeded. Most of what I’ve written could easily be found by following this link and then clicking on the “Vote Here” tab of the MIN 108 web page, and I’ve included hotlinks to the websites of each of the companies I’ve mentioned so you can dig deeper, but hopefully this article serves as a decent introduction.
The next MIN event, MIN109, will have a “Robots & AI” theme. Sponsored by Dassault Systemes, it will be held on April 9th at District Hall in Boston. As always, if I’m able to attend, I’ll blog about it.