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Wichita State team receives $1 million NSF award for navigation app that aids the visually impaired
Vinod Namboodiri, Wichita State University professor of electrical engineering and computer science, Nils Hakansson, professor of biomedical engineering, and a team of researchers from Kansas State University, Texas A&M, the Envision Research Institute and the City of Wichita recently received a three-year, $1.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
The award will fund the development of a navigation app to assist the blind and visually impaired. CityGuide, funded in part by the Shocker Innovation Corps, offers auxiliary location-based services by using wireless devices known as beacons to create a way for the blind or visually impaired to navigate inside buildings and outdoors – anywhere that GPS is not available for navigation.
Wichita State University is a National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps site. The Shocker Innovation Corps nurtures and supports Wichita State entrepreneurial teams interested in transitioning their STEM ideas, devices, processes or other intellectual activities into the marketplace in anticipation of profit.
Ideas/projects can originate from student work, research (funded or unfunded) and institutional/industrial projects. The topical focus of a project must be in a STEM area.
- Seed funding (up to $2,150 per applicant)
- Customer validation training and experience
- Mentoring from local experts
- Access to entrepreneurial resources
- Networking with the local innovation ecosystem
- Maintain your IP rights
Each Shocker Innovation Corps applicant must have a team that includes an Entrepreneurial Lead, an Academic Lead, and a Mentor.
- The Entrepreneurial Lead can be a Post-Doctoral scholar, graduate student, undergraduate or other student, or professional university staff member, with relevant knowledge of the technology and a deep commitment to investigate the commercial landscape surrounding the innovation. The Entrepreneurial Lead must be capable and have the desire to support the transition of the technology, should the project demonstrate the potential for commercial viability.
- The Mentor must be an experienced or emerging entrepreneur with proximity to WSU and experienced
in transitioning technology out of academic labs. The Mentor is a third-party resource.
The mentor can be selected by the Entrepreneurial Lead.
If you have not identified a Mentor or need assistance identifying a mentor, please indicate this information on the application and WSU Ventures will do our best to match you with a mentor for your project.
- The Academic Lead must have an academic appointment that would normally qualify him/her to submit proposals or play the role of a Principle Investigator in subsequent submissions to NSF.
As part of the I-Corps commercialization initiative, the Shocker Innovation Corps will provide up to $2,150 per team for 30 teams each year. This funding is awarded to accepted teams during a six-month period to support team-based customer discovery research aimed at investigating the commercial viability of a product or a specific market application of a novel process, algorithm, device, or other technology.
The Shocker Innovation Corps award can be used to fund any expenses related to customer discovery research, including prototyping costs. Teams have approximately six months to spend their awards. Expenses can include:
- Materials and Supplies: used to create a prototype (for products) or pilot program (for services)
- Meetings, Conferences, Tradeshows and Training: Cost of registration/admission as
well as ancillary costs associated. (i.e., transportation, meals, speaker’s fees,
- Conference must be related to product/service industry
- Meetings hosted by the team for the purpose of customer discovery or market research
- Transportation: Costs related to the delivery of goods (freight, postage or other transportation services relating to goods purchased or delivered)
- Travel costs: Costs related to travel, accommodations, and meals while traveling for the purpose of customer discovery and market research
*Legal fees and Administrative Costs (office supplies and equipment) cannot be included.
Additional follow-on funding is available, but not guaranteed. Note these are competitive programs:
The Entrepreneurial Lead for each team must commit to attending E-Launch training (six sessions), complete required assignments, meetings with mentor, market research, customer delivery, and other fundamental entrepreneurial activities. The EL will receive discounted tuition for the E-Launch training sessions, and the $250 will be deducted from the seed funding. Completion of a minimum of two training sessions will be required before the initial disbursement of seed funding becomes available.
Failure to successfully complete the program training elements may be grounds for disqualification from the Shocker Innovation Corps program and forfeiture and/or repayment of any seed funding associated with the program.
- Commercialization of team projects
- Applications submitted by Site teams to NSF's I-Corp Team Program
- New start-up businesses
- Licensing agreements
- Creation of business plans suitable for review by third-party investors
All teams will make a “go/no-go” decision about commercialization of their technology within six months of receiving funding.