The Early Innovation Fund is a competitive funding program available to the UMN research community to fund short-term projects that advance early-stage innovations.
Spring 2022 Recipients
Blood-Brain Barrier Traversing Beta-Galactosidase as a Treatment for GM1-Gangliosidosis
- Michael Przybilla – Pediatrics, Twin Cities
- GM1-gangliosidosis is a neurological disease with no available treatment and is fatal in childhood. To treat this disease, beta-galactosidase needs to bypass the blood-brain barrier. This project will explore whether this gene editing platform and new molecule could solve this problem.
FreeMind - A Wearable Tool Design Idea to Aid Mental Health
- Jomara Sandbulte – Computer Science, Duluth
- The FreeMind application aims to enhance existing wearable fitness trackers by aggregating contextual data to better support users in mental health goals—particularly for stress management— by allowing users to learn new insights about themselves based on multiple data points.
LOONBuoy - Smart Sensing in Marine Environments
- Craig Hill - Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Duluth
- Leveraging low-cost sensors for real-time, smart IoT marine ecosystem monitoring in an affordable and adaptable form. The LOONBuoy enables distributed water quality monitoring across urban and remote marine ecosystems, providing equitable data access to communities and agencies.
Submerged Winding of Wet-Spun Fibers with Living Cells
- Caleb Vogt and Angela Panoskaltsis-Mortari – Pediatrics, Twin Cities
- A new method for 3D bioprinting, invented by the research team, uses cells spun into living fibers. Now, the team is developing a tension-controlled underwater winder that will coil and manipulate the 100-meter-long fibers without the cells drying out, as they would in currently available systems.
Tangible E-Textile Interface for Digital Patternmaking with Soft Goods
- Lucy Dunne – Design, Housing, and Apparel, Twin Cities
- Designers often prefer working manually with fabric to develop garment patterns, but digitizing draped patterns is slow and cumbersome and introduces error. This project will develop an e-textile interface that digitizes a draped pattern in real-time.
Wide Operation Range Power Converter With Ultra High-Power Density
- Peng Fang - Electrical Engineering, Duluth
- Conventional power converters have poor efficiency under a wide voltage range operation. The project aims to build a new prototype to demonstrate the potential of a new innovation by achieving a much higher power density and much wider voltage range of operation.