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CMU’s OFEF funds five startup companies

Carnegie Mellon University’s Open Field Entrepreneurs Fund (OFEF), administered by the Carnegie Mellon University Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, awarded $250,000 to five startup companies.

The fund was established by alumnus and creator of the Flip Video camera Jonathan Kaplan and his wife, Marci Glazer.

The OFEF is designed to provide early-stage financing and support to Carnegie Mellon alumni looking to start their own companies. Twenty-one startups have been given grants from the fund since its June 2012 inception.

“Carnegie Mellon is truly an engine of innovation. This cycle of OFEF includes three companies that arose from faculty and Ph.D. candidate research,” said David Mawhinney, co-director of the Carnegie Mellon Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and managing director of the OFEF, in a university press release.

“In addition to our outstanding curriculum and world-class research, the continued involvement of our alumni network is something that we are most proud of — people like Jonathan Kaplan, whose generosity and commitment toward helping the next generation of entrepreneurs has made the OFEF possible,” she said.

In the past 15 years, over 300 companies and 9,000 jobs have resulted from Carnegie Mellon’s entrepreneurial campus culture. The companies receiving funds this year are Lumator; NetBeez; QuantMD, LLC; ToolsCloud; and Vibrados.

“It is exciting to see our young alumni creating such interesting companies,” said Lenore Blum, co-director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“These companies are based on years of cutting-edge research and bring real-world solutions to everyday problems and challenges.”

The OFEF provides $50,000 in matching investment to each recipient. Recipients also gain access to other funding sources, receive personalized mentoring, and attend an annual OFEF business workshop.

Mentors assigned to each recipient will include select Carnegie Mellon alumni who have themselves been successful entrepreneurs, having helped to create over $1 billion in shareholder value.

Mentors will also include entrepreneurs based at Carnegie Mellon, such as Mawhinney.

CMU researcher wins engineering prize

Kaushik Dayal, an associate professor in the mechanics group of Carnegie Mellon’s civil and environmental engineering department, recently won the Leonardo Da Vinci Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Dayal received the award for his research on the interactions between materials and electromagnetism that has potential applications for energy storage and generation.

“I’m delighted to receive this recognition of our research into the behavior of electromechanical and electrochemical materials at the nanoscale,” Dayal said in a university press release.

Dayal is looking to create smaller batteries with higher energy density and faster recharge times than those currently on the market.

Dayal’s research focuses on energy storage, which could have important applications for intermittent power sources like solar energy, which is produced during the day but not at nighttime.

Dayal’s research is funded by the Army Research Office, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the National Science Foundation.

“This is great recognition for an innovative researcher who is making important contributions to [the] modeling of materials critical to renewable energy systems and other technologies,” David A. Dzombak, head of the department of civil and environmental engineering, said in a university press release.

The Leonardo Da Vinci award was established in 2011 and recognizes young researchers early in their careers for promising developments within the field of engineering mechanics and mechanical sciences with specific relevance to civil engineering.

In 2012, Dayal received the Army Research Office Young Investigator Award, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Prize, the National Science Foundation Career Award, and the Eshelby Mechanics’ Award for Young Faculty.