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May 30, 2018

UMaine showcases five innovative R&D projects

Courtesy / University of Maine
Courtesy / University of Maine
Renee Kelly is assistant vice president for innovation and economic development at the University of Maine.

About the University of Maine

The University of Maine, founded in Orono in 1865, is the state's land grant and sea grant university. As Maine's flagship public university, UMaine has a statewide mission of teaching, research and economic development, and community service. UMaine is among the most comprehensive higher education institutions in the Northeast and attracts students from Maine and 49 other states, and 67 countries. It currently enrolls 11,240 total undergraduate and graduate students who can directly participate in groundbreaking research working with world-class scholars. The University of Maine offers 35 doctoral programs and master's degrees in 85 fields and more than 90 undergraduate majors and academic programs. It also has one of the oldest and most prestigious honors programs in the United States. The university promotes environmental stewardship, with substantial efforts campus-wide aimed at conserving energy, recycling and adhering to green building standards in new construction.

Five discoveries, including one designed to monitor the health of beehives by using radar, will be showcased by University of Maine faculty-led teams from the Maine Innovation, Research and Technology Accelerator beginning at 5 p.m. today at the Foster Center for Student Innovation on campus.

The five MIRTA projects are:

  • A radar-based beehive activity monitor, developed by Nuri Emanetoglu, Herbert Aumann and Berkay Payal, designed to record the insects' movements to and from the apiary to inform colony health.
  • A high-value, low-cost geoinformatics system to better compile broad-scale spatial information about timber and non-timber resources, developed by the team of Erin Simons-Legaard, Aaron Weiskittel and Kasey Legaard, designed to improve forest management planning.
  • Beverage spoilage yeast test technology, developed by Laurie Connell and Corey Hirn, designed as a point-of-use device to deliver onsite microbe detection in wine and beer applications.
  • New devices made from patterned-release paper for use in biotechnological applications, developed by the team of Caitlin Howell, Amy Blakeley and Matthew Talbot, designed to replace costly, nonbiodegradable plastic or glass devices, for use in health care and pharmaceuticals.
  • A medical device for early detection and diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy, developed by the team of Kristy Townsend, Rosemary Smith and Magdalena Blaszkiewicz, designed also as a noninvasive and pain-free treatment of the disease.

Commercial products with public benefit

MIRTA was made possible by the University of Maine System 2018 Research Reinvestment Fund, a pool of competitive internal grants allocated to advance research projects along the path from discovery to becoming commercial products with public benefit. All projects are tied to Maine businesses or industries critical to the future of the state.

The teams, some including undergraduate and graduate students, and industry collaborators, were the first in the MIRTA program to spend 20 hours a week for 16 weeks learning about the market and intellectual property analyses, and business model development needed to bring their invention to market.

Business incubation staff from UMaine's Office of Innovation and Economic Development guided the teams.

In addition, each team has an advisory committee of industry and technology experts who provide feedback and advice. The teams were eligible for up to $25,000 each to help develop commercialization implementation plans.

Commercialization plans for new products or services, process improvements, creative works, or curricula or programs could include starting new companies or licensing to existing ones.

The second cohort of research teams from throughout the University of Maine System campuses will be selected this summer.

"The goal is to significantly advance research innovation to marketable new products and services," says Renee Kelly, UMaine assistant vice president for innovation and economic development.

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