The Innovator’s Quarterly: Where Are They Now?

September 2021 | News from BU Industry Engagement and Technology Development

BU Innovators of the Year

BU’s Innovator of the Year is an award bestowed annually on a faculty member who translates world-class research into inventions and innovations that benefit humankind. But what comes of these distinguished faculty members and their innovations? Here, four former Innovators of the Year share updates on their research and their lives since receiving the award.

Nominate an Outstanding Innovator

We are once again seeking nominations for BU Innovator of the Year. Eligible faculty have translated peer-recognized research into products or services of significant value to society, with great potential for practical use, and covered by BU intellectual property protections. 

Expert Advice

Build your innovation toolkit with information and resources from BU and industry experts, as well as researchers who’ve successfully navigated the path to impact.

Collaborating with Industry on Early Detection of Cancer

What does it take to juggle the time-sensitive demands of an industry partnership with one’s own research and teaching? Find out from Assistant Professor Sarah Mazzilli, Medicine (MED), whose Johnson & Johnson-supported research works to improve early detection and identify novel intervention approaches for pre-cancerous and early stage lung cancer, shares lessons learned.

Advice from an Engineer Tackling Substandard Healthcare

BU engineer Muhammad Zaman’s commitment to addressing health inequity led him to develop PharmaChk, a portable system that screens for poor quality medicines by quantifying active pharmaceutical ingredient content. In this Q&A, he reflects on how he was able to refine his idea and spin out a new company while remaining focused on his end goal: human-centric solutions to benefit underserved communities.


Take Action

We offer programs to help you actively advance your idea in the marketplace. Browse highlights below, and see the full list on our Learning Paths & Programs page.

Solve Adoption First
This tutorial sheds light on what an idea or technology requires to succeed in the marketplace.

Catalyst Program
In this program, a group of students conducts customer interviews for the investigator to shed light on user needs.

Spark Program
This NSF-funded program requires that you conduct 12 customer interviews, teaching PIs to listen rather than sell.

Fusion Program
A follow-up to Spark, this NSF-funded program allows the inventor to conduct 12 more customer interviews.

BU Ignition Awards Offer More Than Funding

Dr. Chandramouli Chandrasekaran, Anatomy & Neurobiology (CAS), was one of nine BU faculty awarded an Ignition Award in 2021. What he expected to be a traditional grant turned out to be much more. Today, he’s engaged in a rigorous process of education, customer discovery, and networking to advance openEyeTrack—a flexible, high-speed eye tracker targeted at research labs that need to monitor eye movements. Learn more

Quarterly Impact Report

Industry-sponsored research awards this past fiscal year nearly doubled awards from the previous year. Sponsored research awards in quarter four of Fiscal Year 2021 were significantly higher year-over-year than Fiscal Year 2020, bolstered by the extension and expansion of the Red Hat Collaboratory

In FY21, BU was ranked 55th worldwide among academic institutions for issued US patents. Also this year, a BU spin-out was listed on the NASDAQ; a new drug (Tepezza), based on a BU patent, was approved for sale; we completed three licenses with new BU spin-outs; and seven of our 74 invention disclosures were born from industry-sponsored research and therefore subject to option agreements.

Visit the Research Support website to download full reports.

Meet our Team

Misty Farrell-Pennington

Team: Technology Development

Title: Director, Business Development, Engineering and Physical Sciences

What I do: I manage the commercialization of engineering and physical science research and tech developed by BU faculty.

Ask me about: Telecommunications, the Olympics, and intellectual property for startups.

Lucie Rochard

Team: Industry Engagement

Title: Director, Life Sciences

What I do: I help BU researchers and Pharma industry partners connect and collaborate to impact patients’ lives.

Ask me about: Brittany, France, and how industry collaboration can boost the impact of your research.

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