Past Forums

2016 Innovation Forum Results

First Place: Jen-Tang Lu, Electrical Engineering - Enhanced Ultrasound Imaging

We propose an enhanced ultrasound imaging technique that uses both the fundamental and advanced images. Instead of disregarding the fundamental signal, as in typical biomedical imaging, we use it in conjunction with advanced imaging techniques, such tissue harmonic imaging, contrast-enhanced ultrasound, and spatial compounding. By leveraging the mutual information between the signals, we create a composite image with higher resolution, better contrast, lower noise, fewer artifacts, and more tissue-specific response than is possible with each image individually. We demonstrate the method both for human subjects and for archival images. The innovation is compatible with all existing ultrasound devices, and can improve all types of ultrasound imaging in real time.

Second Place: Jake Herb, Chemistry - Novel Low-Cost Green Electrolytes for Magnesium-ion Batteries

The global market for advanced energy storage devices has increased at unprecedented rates due to higher demand for electric vehicles and the proliferation of intermittent renewable energy sources such as solar and wind farms. However, growth in this sector has been hindered by the lack of abundant, low cost, long cycle life, and high energy density batteries. Li-ion batteries, though they possess high energy density, are costly and are reliant on limited lithium deposits that are confined to geographically isolated areas of the world. Li-ion systems have also been associated with safety hazards such as explosions as a result of microscopic defects in the battery. The absence of appropriate, safe, and scalable energy storage systems has resulted in a significant opportunity for new players with alternative technologies. Mg-ion batteries have emerged as a leading contender to Li-ion due to lower costs and greater availability of raw materials, safer charging and discharging, and the added benefit of 10-fold increase in energy per unit volume as compared to common lithium systems. However, one of the main hurdles to the widespread commercial adoption of this battery chemistry is a lack of a suitable electrolyte that is capable of reversibly electroplating Mg metal from the solution. Our team has created a unique, cost-effective, patent pending family of electrolytes through an environmentally friendly process with great potential for scalable commercialization.

Third Place: Gilad Arawtz, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering - Instrumems. Inc.

Sensing technologies are becoming more available and are being used almost everywhere as an integral part of the Internet of Things from mobile phones to aerospace applications. In the last two decades, data collection and storage have improved significantly, driving sensing technologies to high resolution/high frequency measurements.

The company is based on a new sensing platform “nano-wire” which allows measurement of temperature, velocity and humidity in a faster, cheaper and with a smaller footprint compared with conventional measuring techniques. A US utility patent application has been filed, which resulted in a significant market interest mainly from the natural gas industries and led the publicly traded VC company, “IP Group” to pursue seed investment in the technology.

Third Place: Charlie Gentile, PPPL - On Demand Production of Medical Isotope Tc-99m without Uranium

Technetium-99m (Tc-99m) is a radioactive tracer isotope, frequently used in the medical field for diagnostic imaging. We have developed a non-uranium based process to produce this isotope, in situ and on demand. As a result of our process we have eliminated transportation issues associated with complicated supply chains, thus providing much wider distribution of the material. It is our intent to make this important medical isotope readily available to communities throughout the developing third world.



Despite myriad improvements in detection, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and targeted biologicals, cancer death rates have only fallen 20% since their peak 25 years ago. The very simple reason why we have not yet cured cancer is that the biomedical industry and FDA have focused on treating primary tumors rather than the spread of cancerous cells to distant organs. Research in my laboratory is focused on the identification of specific biological interactions exploited by cancer cells in their spread to distant organs. My work has identified a single class of enzyme responsible for the communication between cancer cells and the organs they spread to. Following the identification of this enzyme’s importance, I have developed a rapid screening technology to identify novel drug leads and have begun the process of candidate discovery. 


This innovative technology enables for the first time a personalized approach for regeneration of nerve injuries. By the direct coupling of 3D printing manufacturing principles and patient-specific 3D scanning and imaging technologies, we have achieved the ability to manufacture novel scaffolds for regenerating nerve injuries which challenge the conventional linear and unfunctionalized technology. The new 3D printed nerve regeneration technology offers the ability to personalize novel synthetic tissue scaffolds in terms of both geometry and type of nerve injury as well as to mimic the natural anatomical design of the original nerve tissue itself in terms of both physical and biochemical structure. We envision one day this reverse engineering and personalized approach to nerve regeneration will allow us to develop customized devices for use in nerve repair surgeries worldwide which offer the patient new andsignificantly improved outcomes from treatments which require surgical intervention. 


We created pulsepod to be an environmental sensing platform that is smart, simple, and deployable at scale. We work with growers and their advisors to provide decision support tools based on pulsepod's in-field monitoring of crop health, microclimate, water, and nutrients. The heart of pulsepod is a lowcost hardware hub equipped with cellular and wifi connectivity. Our pod collects environmental data using self-documenting plug-and-play sensors. An open hardware interface allows expansion and integration of existing commercial sensors. Pulsepod communicates via a secure API that serves data for web or mobile apps. We benefit our customers and society by developing affordable, application-specific recommendation systems that enhance production, conserve resources, and save money. 

Congratulations to the winners and thanks to all participants for making the 10th Annual Innovation Forum a fabulous event.


The Keller Center is pleased to announce the winners of the 9th Annual Innovation Forum and would like to thank all who participated in the forum this year. The event took place on Wednesday, February 26, 2014, in the Carl Fields Center and drew a crowd of nearly 200 people. A networking reception and poster/demo session was followed by a prize ceremony. Read the full story here

The winners of the 9th Annual Innovation Forum were:
First Place
Title: Commercial Production of Janus Particles for Enhanced Oil Recovery
Presenter: Vikram Pansare
Department: Chemical and Biological Engineering
Team Members: Chris Sosa, Chuan Zhang, Rodney Priestley, Robert Prud'homme

Second Place
Title: Platform for Computational Peptide-Based Drug Design with an Expanded Modified Amino Acid Chemical Space: Applications to Discovering Potent HIV-1 Inhibitors
Presenter: George A. Khoury
Department: Chemical and Biological Engineering
Team Members: James Smadbeck, Christodoulos A. Floudas

Third Place
Title: Base Meta Catalysis: Sustainable Catalysis for a Resource Limited World
Presenter: Max Friedfeld
Department: Chemistry
Team Members: Paul J. Chirik


Optogene Labs: Robust Optical Control and Probe of Genetic and Protein Networks
Denys Bondar, Chemistry

A Single Pill to Treat Multiple Virus Infections 
Emre Koyuncu, Genomics

Base Meta Catalysis: Sustainable Catalysis for a Resource Limited World
Max Friedfeld, Chemistry (video unavailable)

3D Touch
Yingzhe Hu, Electrical Engineering

Platform for Computational Peptide-Based Drug Design with an Expanded Modified Amino Acid Chemical Space: Applications to Discovering Potent HIV-1 Inhibitors
George Khoury, Chemical and Biological Engineering

A Novel Pharmacotherapy for Diabetic Kidney Disease
Charles Miller, Molecular Biology

Commercial Production of Janus Particles for Enhanced Oil Recovery
Vikram Pansare, Chemical and Biological Engineering

HOLMES: Machine Learning Applied to Science for Decision-Making Amid Uncertainty
Kristofer Reyes

A New Method and Procedure for Efficient and Painless Tattoo Removal
Szymon Suckewer

Faraday Rotation Spectrometer for Medical Diagnostics and Environmental Emissions Control
Gerard Wysocki


Taking top honors at Princeton University’s eighth annual Innovation Forum on the evening of March 12 was part of a whirlwind transformation for Lei Tao.

Just a year ago, the postdoctoral scholar considered himself a pure researcher, working with his adviser, Assistant Professor Mark Zondlo, to solve technical problems associated with understanding the behavior of greenhouse gases. But then colleagues around the world started asking if he and Zondlo had plans to sell the sensors they created.

Tao and Zondlo won a spot in a National Science Foundation program to provide intensive hands-on training in starting a business. Then they entered the Innovation Forum, an annual event organized by Princeton’s Keller Center to showcase research with commercial potential. Representing one of six teams that delivered rapid-fire pitches to an audience of more than 100 at Princeton’s Carl Fields Center, Tao impressed a panel of business leaders with his plan to break into the growing market for environmental sensors with a powerful, portable and inexpensive device.

“I was thinking I would be in academics,” Tao said. “Princeton opened up the opportunity for me to go into a whole new area.”

Broadening an academic focus to include a business perspective was a common story line at the gathering. The Innovation Forum brings together teams of faculty members, postdocs and graduate students to pitch ideas for commercializing early-stage research to a panel of judges. After signing up to participate, the teams submit brief descriptions of their ideas and videotaped pitches. The judges ask questions and offer feedback before the researchers make final three-minute pitches at the event.

The winning team received $15,000 while the second and third finishers receive $10,000 and $5,000 from the Keller Center.

Read the full story here.


Eight teams pitched their innovations to a panel of VCs, industry experts and angel investors at the sixth annual Innovation Forum held on February 29 in the Friend Center Auditorium 101.  The event drew a sizeable audience of students, faculty, and members of the entrepreneurial community who came to listen to teams and the keynote speaker Christian Theriault. Christian, who won first place in the 2011 Innovation Forum, shared his experiences commercializing a university technology and creating a revenue-positive company since inception. Read the full story here.

The winners of the 7th Annual Innovation Forum were:

First Place:
Title: Sensing Sheet for High-resolution Structural Health Monitoring Over Large Structures
Presenter: Branko Glišić
Department: Civil & Environmental Engineering
Team Members: Naveen Verma, James Sturm & Sigurd Wagner (Electrical Engineering)

Second Place:
Title: Chirped Laser Dispersion Spectroscopy, a New Method for Gas Sensing
Presenter: Michal Nikodem
Department: Electrical Engineering
Team Members: Gerard Wysocki (Electrical Engineering)

Third Place:
Title: Better Cancer Therapeutics through Better Biological Modeling
Presenter: Danna Hargett
Department: Molecular Biology
Team Members: Stephen St. Jeor, Lisa Keyes & Marianna Bego (University of Nevada Reno)


Read the article on the 2011 Forum.

Eight teams pitched their innovations to a panel of VCs, industry experts and angel investors at the sixth annual Innovation Forum held April 7th in the Friend Center Auditorium 101.  The event drew a sizeable audience of students, faculty, and members of the entrepreneurial community who came to listen to teams and the keynote speaker Vivek Pai.   Associate Professor of Computer Science, Vivek Pai, talked about his experience of spinning out three technologies from Princeton.  During the keynote, the judges deliberated and selected the winners.  The winners were announced at the poster session and reception in the Friend Center’s Dean’s Convocation Room.

The winners of the 6th Annual Innovation Forum were:

First Place
Title: Tunable Acoustic Gradient Technology
Presenter: Christian Theriault ’07 *08
Department: Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering/TAG Optics Inc.
Team Members: Craig Arnold (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering)

Second Place
Title: SuryaTech
Presenter: Yifei Huang
Department: Electrical Engineering
Team Members: Sushobhan Avasthi (Electrical Engineering); James C. Sturm (Electrical
Engineering, PRISM)

Third Place
Title: Multifunctional Targeted Imaging Nanoparticles
Presenter: Vikram Pansare
Department: Chemical and Biological Engineering
Team Members: Robert K. Prud’homme (Chemical and Biological Engineering)


Forum drives University innovations toward marketplace

Posted Apr 19, 2010 - Chris Emery

In just three minutes, John Groves explained how his innovation could save time.

Groves, a chemistry professor at Princeton University, told a panel of business leaders gathered on campus April 8 that a new technology he helped develop could catch dangerous side effects of drugs in the earliest stages of development, long before they would be tested in humans. Compared to existing technology, he assured the panel, “we can do it faster and cheaper.”

Click to watch videos of the presenters at the 2010 Innovation Forum.

Groves was among 16 presenters at the Keller Center’s fifth annual Innovation Forum, which showcased Princeton research that has the potential to be commercialized. The scientists and engineers extolled their innovations to an audience of investors, members of the University community and a panel of judges that, after hearing the quick presentations, allotted more than $40,000 to the top three entries.

Read the full story here.