Innovation is a Catalyst, Entrepreneurship is a Mindset & Northeastern’s RISE Bridged the Two

From BostInno

Tracey Dodenhoff, the director of Northeastern’s Center for Research Innovation, said she knew the Center would be successful when the University saw an explosion in entrepreneurship across different disciplines. With over 400 undergraduate and graduate students showcasing their research today at the annual Research, Innovation and Scholarship Expo (RISE), it’s clear the Center is onto something — and it’s onto something amazing.

With the goal of fostering an innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem on campus, Dodenhoff said she was overwhelmed at the “breadth, depth of the work and the quality of pitches” displayed at RISE. With projects covering seven topics, ranging from computer and information sciences to humanities and the arts, each poster was visited and given a score by a panel of judges comprised of Northeastern faculty and staff, as well as venture capitalists, angel investors, patent attorneys and business executives.

One undergraduate and one graduate winner was chosen as a winner for each category, and a lucky four teams were given a RISE award, which came with $1,000 in funding. Here’s a quick look at the subjects that walked away with RISE awards, along with the names of the lead authors on those projects.

Excellence in Research
“Providing Computer Accessibility for the Physically Disabled” by Jeffrey Breugelmans, who also won an award in the interdisciplinary topics category.

Excellence in Innovation 
“Rethinking Urban Public Housing: A Prototype Promoting Social Sustainability” by Jessica Wilcock, who also won an award in the humanities and the arts category.

Excellence in Scholarship 
“Lives Lost to Lynching and the Ongoing Need for Restorative Justice” by Chris Bridges, who also won an award in the social sciences, business and law category.

People’s Choice Award
“Squid” by Alexandra Aas, Alexandra Moran, Amy Schaffer, Trevor Lorden, Adam Morgan, Joseph Sheehan and Thomas Wilbur, who also won an award in the interdisciplinary topics category.

Following the Awards Ceremony, I caught up with Squid, who’s created a sensitized, wearable compression shirt that integrates with a smartphone and web database to monitor resistance exercises, such as weightlifting. To the team — who walked away with  not only 1,000 real dollars but $135 million monopoly dollars from people who believed in their idea — this win symbolized validation of their product.

Squid’s product, which is optimizing the effectiveness of workouts, touches upon something Northeastern President Joseph Aoun said in his talk: “Whatever we do is going to change reality,” later remarking, “We are only beginning, and next year we are going to double and triple what we see.”

In its first year, the Center for Research Innovation really is in the beginning. But, as Dodenhoff said, “Innovation is a catalyst, entrepreneurship is a mindset, and we want to bridge the two.” And today was proof they’re doing just that.