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IUPUI program pairs business students with engineering students to research patent options

Rishi Chandra and Jim Plew
Rishi Chandra and Jim Plew

Published:

May 24, 2012

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A new program takes advantage of IUPUI’s academic diversity by partnering undergraduates from various disciplines with a mentor to help bring a faculty member’s patent to market.

Kelley School of Business Indianapolis students Jim Plew and Rishi Chandra learned the business implications of a dialysis invention through the Center for Research and Learning's  Innovation-to-Enterprise Central program. The two partnered with three biomedical engineering students in the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology to research how to commercialize a dialysis invention by IU vascular surgeon George Akingba, M.D., Ph.D.

“Dr. Akingba patented the device, but there’s still a lot of research that needs to be done,” Chandra said. “So that’s what we worked on. We compared the device to its competitors and went through all the government regulations and possible future funding.”

Dr. Akingba’s patented modular arterio-venous shunt device helps open and close a tube that connects blood flow during dialysis. His invention could improve the tube’s durability. Based on their research, the students will offer Dr. Akingba advice on whether to start a company based on his device or to license it to someone else.

“We were brought into this to provide some kind of value from the business end,” Plew said. “It put pressure on us, but we could show what we’ve learned in the business school and how we can infuse that into this setting.”

The Innovation-to-Enterprise Central program gives faculty like Dr. Akingba a chance to move their inventions forward and offers the students a practical lesson using another field of study.

“There’s only so much engineers and physicians can do,” Dr. Akingba said. “You always need the business people to help you keep your direction and your focus, so that at one point in time you can decide if your startup is a money pit or a pot of gold.”

The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research sponsors the Innovation-to -Enterprise Central program through a collaboration between the Center for Research and Learning  and Solution Center, in partnership with IUPUI academic and research units. This program, is available to full-time undergraduate students in good academic standing with an interest in research commercialization. For more information, please visit www.crl.iupui.edu/programs/itec .