Startup selling solar panels ‘in the cloud,’ not on your roof

Cloud Solar

By Callum BorchersGlobe Staff March 06, 2015

If anyone seems likely to put solar panels on his roof, it’s Michael Sun. Besides the tailor-made name, he’s spent the past five years researching solar cell efficiency as a doctoral student at Boston University.

But Sun rents an apartment, so — much as he’d like to power his TV and microwave with rays of sunshine — he can’t install panels on a roof he doesn’t own.

For renewable energy enthusiasts like himself, who haven’t bought solar panels for one reason or another, Sun has a new option. He and the cofounders of a Boston startup called CloudSolar are offering customers panels to be installed not on their own homes but rather on a solar farm the company plans to open somewhere in New England next year.

It’s an unorthodox arrangement.

Buyers won’t be able to power their own electronics with the energy their panels generate. Instead, CloudSolar will sell the electricity to utility companies that will pass the green energy on to their customers.

Then CloudSolar will send quarterly checks from the proceeds to panel owners.

Sun and his partners, Cory Absi and Xiaohang Li, formed the company last year on the premise that many more people would buy solar panels if not for a long list of drawbacks: They’re unsightly, impractical in places that don’t receive a lot of sunlight, and expensive without applying for government rebates, which can seem like a hassle.

CloudSolar, which began taking orders on the Indiegogo crowdfunding site this week, handles all the paperwork, installation, and maintenance, and has set a starting price of $250 for a quarter-panel; half-panels cost $450 and full ones $650. The company also will provide owners with a mobile app showing their panels’ energy output in real time.

For its trouble, CloudSolar will keep 20 percent of electricity sales and return the rest to panel owners.

“If you could help the planet and participate in the solar industry by just the click of a button, wouldn’t you do it?” Absi said. “We want to take all the complexity out of it.”

CloudSolar doesn’t offer estimates about how much customers should anticipate earning from their panels each year, noting that payments will fluctuate with the weather and energy prices. But Absi, an undergraduate mechanical engineering student at Boston University, said buyers should expect to recoup their purchase costs in 10 to 12 years and begin making a profit after that.

The option to own a solar panel in a remote location — in the cloud, to borrow a computing term — is one of several ways for environmentally conscious energy consumers to join the solar movement without renovating their roofs. Last fall, SolarCity, a leading installer of solar energy systems, began issuing solar bonds investors can buy in $1,000 increments and receive 4 percent interest, with a seven-year maturity.

Community solar gardens, like those in Brewster and Rehoboth, sell memberships or panels to local residents who receive cash credits on their monthly electric bills. Community solar garden customers must live within a certain geographic radius, but CloudSolar customers can live anywhere.

“The best economics for the consumer is still to buy the panels and put them on your own roof,” said Ian Bowles, managing director of Windsail Capital Group in Boston and a former Massachusetts secretary of energy and environmental affairs. “But I’m in favor of 1,000 flowers blooming in solar, and this is one of those flowers.”
Each panel or partial panel includes a 25-year maintenance contract with CloudSolar, which has existed for just eight months and doesn’t yet own the land for the farm.

At the end of the 25-year term, panel owners can renew the maintenance agreement with CloudSolar or sell their panels back to the company. Founders said they have a tentative deal to buy a seven-acre tract capable of holding 4,000 panels in one of the New England states. They declined to say which, citing competition, and said they need the capital from the Indiegogo campaign to close the deal. CloudSolar hopes to raise $300,000 by April 3 and had pledges for about one-third of the money as of Thursday evening.

If CloudSolar were to be acquired in the future, the buyer would probably assume the maintenance obligation. If it were to fold, the solar panels could be shipped to their owners, who might have nowhere to put them.

Despite the risks, Sun and his partners are confident they have developed a smart new way to invest in solar energy. “Once we build the farm, it should keep generating electricity for decades,” Sun said.

Callum Borchers can be reached at callum.borchers@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2015/03/06/startup-selling-solar-panels-cloud-not-your-roof/ZIlSLORzszmpm0nwYRoyFM/story.html

RayVio Corp: From BU lab to successful start-up with global impact

3.4 million people die each year from water related diseases and 780 million people lack access to clean water, according to the non-profit organization Water.org. This is a serious problem, especially in developing nations. However, the UV-LED (ultraviolet light-emitting diode) solution developed by RayVio Corp. can provide these regions with water purification and disinfection technology that is easily transported, low maintenance, and provides higher energy efficiency than any other product on the market. RayVio’s UV-LED has the potential to impact the lives of millions of people globally, providing them with easily accessible clean water and enabling them to live healthier lives.

The company began as the research thesis of BU graduate student Yitao Liao.  Yitao did his PhD research at BU’s Photonics Center under the guidance of Professor Theodore Moustakas.  Yitao developed a method to manufacture high efficient LEDs emitting ultraviolet light between 375 – 220 nm as novel solid state source to replace mercury-vapor lamps. In April 2011, Yitao and his team won First Place at ITEC’s (Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization) 50K New Venture Competition at BU. The team presented a visionary business plan for a low cost, durable and energy efficient UV-LED based solution to substitute mercury-vapor lamps in the water purification and disinfection market.

With the assistance of BU’s Office of Technology Development, a patent application was drafted and a new company, named Rayvio Corp., was founded. Dr. Robert Walker, a veteran entrepreneur in the LED industry, serves as CEO, Dr. Yitao Liao as CTO and Dr. Theodore Moustakas serves on the Scientific Advisory Board.  The company is based in Hayward, CA and is a leading manufacturer of UV LED solutions for water, air and surfaces disinfection, industrial curing, and medical applications.  RayVio’s UV-LED products are safer, more compact, robust, energy efficient and environmentally friendly than current solutions employing mercury-vapor lamps.

The company raised venture capital from leading investors DCM Ventures, Capricorn Investment Group, and others. For more information about the company go to:  rayvio.com.

Global Health Technology Meet-up – Go to Market!!

Boston University is hosting a networking and informational event (Global Health Technology Meet-up) on February 24, 2014 from 4-8 pm in the Photonics Center that is designed to connect engineers, public health professionals and business people. Our goal is to create stronger links between these communities in order to facilitate collaborations that could lead to new solutions for global health challenges.  You can register for the event using this link.

Essential technologies are still unavailable in many settings resulting in high infant and maternal deaths, high mortality from curable infectious diseases and limited ability to promote health to control the increase in non-communicable diseases. Universities are great sources of amazing innovations that can impact the health of people living in under-resourced counties.  But the large gap that exists between academic research and commercial products is even larger for technologies designed for global health applications.

Each year the Office of Technology Development receives a number of disclosures describing possible solutions for problems directly related to global health.  For example, the research of Dr. Muhammad Zaman (Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering and Medicine) along with graduate students (Darash Desai, Nga Ho, Andrea Fernandes) and research scientist Irani Shemirani have developed Pharmachk, a microfluidic-based diagnostic test to detect substandard and counterfeit medicines in resource-limited countries.  Pharmachk is a fast, accurate, low-cost, and user-friendly test of whether medicines are present in the correct concentrations and associated with any impurities.   Pharmachk was recognized as one of “Ten World Changing Ideas” by Scientific American in 2013, see article here.  The group also competed with 52 other finalists to receive a $2M “Saving Lives at Birth” grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to transition the platform to scale production, see the following BU Today article.

The work of Dr. Chris Gill, called Project Search, will use smartphones to image ears as a cost effective way to link people with their medical records.  Project Search completed a successful crowdfunding campaign and won the Social Entrepeneurship Award at the 2014 Tech, Drugs and Rock n’ Roll event.

Crossing this gap requires collaboration between all stakeholders in global health, from engineers, public health and medical professionals as well as funders, supply chain managers and the private sector.   Join us at the Global Health Technology Meet-up to learn from experts in commercialization, technology assessment and implementation in a panel discussion.  Participate in judging novel technologies by spending your investment “dollars” at the poster session and feast at the shark tank where three technologies closest to commercialization will be grilled.  You have the ability to be part of the solution to bridge this gap.

GHECHo graphic2

CTSI Symposium highlights health disparities and technology

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Keynote Speaker:
Olufunmilayo Olopade, MD, FACP
University of Chicago

Boston University’s NIH funded, Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) serves to provide BU researchers with the tools, training, and resources necessary to translate medical research into clinical innovations. The mission of affiliated Boston Medical Center is to provide “exceptional care without exception” to patients regardless of ability to pay.  Supporting the mission of both institutions, the CTSI hosted their fourth annual Translational Science Symposium this past October with a theme on “Research Disparities in Healthcare.”   The symposium showcased research and technology offering solutions to disparities in healthcare. The event featured a keynote address by Dr. Olufunmilayo Olopade MD, FACP, of the University of Chicago. Dr. Olopade is recognized internationally for her research connecting breast cancer disparities to the prevalence of triple-negative tumors and associated BRCA mutations in women of African descent diagnosed with breast cancer. She engaged the audience with her discussion of using genetic screening as a means to address breast cancer disparities.  She was followed by four headline speakers from the Boston University School of Medicine and the Roger Williams Medical Center in Rhode Island, who discussed their translational disparities research including the impact of patient navigation on the quality of breast cancer care, challenges in treating cancer in the elderly, and unhealthy aging and obesity.

Dr. Naomi Ko, an oncologist and breast cancer disparities researcher commented, “at an institution such as Boston Medical Center where addressing health disparities is of such importance, it was really powerful to hear all of the rigorous research being conducted.

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Naomi Ko, MD
Boston Medical Center

Over thirty posters were presented on a wide range of research topics, taking place throughout the Boston University and Boston Medical Center community as well as Roger Williams Medical Center.

First place prize was given to Dr. Steven Scherr, and others in the laboratory of Dr. Selim Ünlü and in collaboration with Drs. Bennett Goldberg and John Connor, for their timely development of a rapid, point-of-care diagnostic device for the early detection of Ebola infection. Using a combination of optical interference imaging and microfluidics, the diagnostic platform can detect Ebola virions at 103 PFU/mL from blood serum samples in less than 10 minutes. This rapid, label-free, and inexpensive test could have a significant impact on containing the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Second place went to the identification of an N-glycosylation-regulating gene, DPGAT, as a potential promoter of oral squamous cell carcinoma. Trevor Packer, MS and colleagues in the laboratory of Dr. Maria Kukuruzinska at the BU School of Dental Medicine, have shown that DPGAT1 enhances metastatic migration potential, while inhibition drives an epithelial-like phenotype. Oral squamous cell carcinoma has become a distinct public health concern due to the lack of effective treatments for metastatic disease.

Third place went to work by Megan Hampstead, MPH and colleagues in Dr. Brian Jack’s group for their efforts to improve preconception care (PCC). Preconception care focuses on identifying and treating risk factors prior to pregnancy. Dr. Jack’s group, Project Preconception Care, has developed an interactive online character, named “Gabby,” with whom women can discuss specific PCC risks. Over a period of six months, women who interacted with Gabby triggered fewer risks and resolved more problems than women who had not. Identifying, communicating, and resolving these risks is a strong public health necessity, particularly in the case of African-American women, for whom infant mortality rates are over twice that of non-Hispanic white women.

BUMCSYMP

Dr. Michael Holick at poster with Megan Hampstead

The Symposium was sponsored by CTSI, as well as the Shamim and Ashraf Dahod Breast Cancer Research Center (Boston University) and the Carter Disparities Fund (Boston Medical Center).

Message from the Managing Director

Vinit Nijhawan Managing Director

Vinit Nijhawan
Managing Director

Healthcare Information Technology (HealthIT) is about to make a major impact on healthcare delivery to patients, driven by the federal government and by entrepreneurs. As part of the stimulus package enacted in 2009, the Obama administration provided $19.2B in funding for HealthIT, including assistance to providers to install Electronic Medical Records (EMR) software. The entire impact of this funding is yet to be felt by patients. In the meantime academic researchers and entrepreneurs are bringing evidence based HealthIT solutions to market to improve patient care and satisfaction.

Digital health financing history

Some of the major advances in the HealthIT:

Nutrition & Fitness

  • Massive growth of wearable devices—21% of US consumers own a wearable device according to a PWC study in 2014. The Consumer Electronics Show in January 2015 was dominated by new wearable devices such as Apple’s Watch and HealthKit iPhone software hub.
  • Increased interest in eating better and, more importantly, matching individual nutritional needs of consumers with meal plans and eating habits.
  • BU Sargent College has the Sargent’s Choice meals in BU dining halls.
  • BU undergraduate students have developed the BU Food mobile app.

Personalized Healthcare

  • Using big data predictive analytics to support patient health such as:  clinical decision support; readmission prevention; adverse event avoidance; and, chronic disease management.
  • Projected growth in healthcare data from 500 to 25,000 petabytes 2012-2020 with patient data from wearables being an area of growth. Rock Health estimates close to $2B of venture capital investment has gone into healthcare data analytics companies in the past couple of years.
  • BU researcher, Brian Jack, has developed evidence-based ‘Project RED’, a patient discharge process to reduce readmissions and used by many hospitals.
  • BU researcher, Swathi Kiran, has launched an analytics driven software startup, named Constant Therapy, for stroke and traumatic brain injury rehabilitation, a platform with over 15,000 users.
  • Stem Cell Research and its commercialization potential is exploding following the discovery of iPS (Induced Pluripotent Stem) cells by Shinya Yamanaka in 2006
  • BU researchers at CReM (Center for Regenerative Medicine) used beating heart stem cells derived from patients’ skin cells to personalize drug therapy so children won’t receive ~100 electric shocks monthly to counter arrhythmia.

Genetic Screening

  • Using minimally invasive molecular diagnostic tests and genome sequencing to detect diseases and genetic anomalies
  • BU researcher, Avi Spira, has developed the BronchoGene lung cancer diagnostic test which is being marketed by Veracyte.
  • BU has licensed intellectual property to Sequenom for use in pre-natal DNA testing for genetic disorders such as Down’s Syndrome.

Global Population Health

  • Big data and Mobile Health (mHealth) are experiencing dramatic growth in emerging countries to address population health. According to PWC, worldwide mHealth revenue is expected to reach about US$23B with Europe and Asia-Pacific (APAC) at 30% market share each, followed by the developed markets of North America (USA and Canada) with 28% share. Latin America and Africa will comprise 7% and 5% share, respectively.
  • BU researcher Christopher Gill has developed a novel mobile app that captures biometric data of patients in the field by taking a photo of their ear.

Tim Draper backs Boston robot software company Neurala

Neurala--580x331

Neurala CEO Max Versace

Local robotics software company Neurala announced Thursday that it has received $750,000 in seed funding from a group of investors including well known Silicon Valley investor Tim Draper of Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Draper Associates.

The company is built by Boston University alums (that’s right, MIT doesn’t have the market cornered on robotics innovation!) and was a participant in last year’s Techstars Boston cohort.

Founded in 2006 by BU doctoral students Massamiliano Versace, Heather Ames, and Anatoli Gorshechnikov, Neurala aims to bring our understanding of biology, specifically how the brain works, to the software development of robots.

The company uses what it calls “deep learning algorithms” to make robots learn more like humans do. The company’s goal is to create software that enables people to tell a robot what to do, and not how to do it.

Neurala has contracts from NASA and the US Air Force to develop smart learning systems. The company says potential applications include collision avoidance systems for drones on Earth, and autonomous navigation systems for robots on Mars.

Draper is a key investor in companies like Skype, Hotmail, Twitter, and SpaceX. Robolution Capital, a Paris-based venture capital firm focused on robotics, also took part in this round of funding.

Originally published by BetaBoston on December 10, 2014 see here.

Dennis Keohane  @DBKeohane

 

BOSTON UNIVERSITY RECEIVES NSF FUNDING TO DEVELOP “SMART CITY” CLOUD PLATFORM

BOSTON UNIVERSITY RECEIVES NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION FUNDING TO DEVELOP “SMART CITY” CLOUD PLATFORM

SCOPE: A Smart-City Cloud-based Open Platform to bring services to Boston and State

(Boston) – Boston University’s Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering today announced it has received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop a “smart-city” cloud platform designed to streamline and strengthen multiple municipal functions. Called SCOPE: A Smart-city Cloud-based Open Platform & Eco-system, the project is designed to improve transportation, energy, public safety, asset management, and social services in the City of Boston and across Massachusetts.

“Today’s cities are increasingly being challenged – to respond to diverse needs of their citizens, to prepare for major environmental changes, to improve urban quality of life, and to foster economic development,” says Azer Bestavros, Director of the Hariri Institute and SCOPE’s principal investigator. “So called ‘smart cities’ are closing these gaps through the use of technology to connect people with resources, to guide changes in collective behavior, and to foster innovation and economic growth.”

Spearheaded by the Hariri Institute, SCOPE is led by a multi-disciplinary team of investigators from the BU Departments of Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Earth and Environment, Strategy and Innovation, and City Planning & Urban Affairs, and the Office of Technology Development. Industry partners include Schneider Electric, International Data Corporation (IDC), Integrated Technical Systems, Inc., Connected Bits, and CrowdComfort. Public partners are MassIT, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ lead state agency for technology led by the Commonwealth CIO, the MassTech Collaborative, the City of Boston, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, and the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization.

In collaboration with these stakeholders, SCOPE investigators will develop and implement smart-city services that aim to improve the quality of urban life. For example, transportation and mobility services to reduce traffic congestion, save time and fuel, and reduce pollution; energy and environmental services that will monitor and estimate greenhouse gas emissions; public safety and security services for big-data-driven dispatch of police and traffic details, snow removal, coordinated public works scheduling, and municipal repairs; tools to manage city assets by mining large amounts of data and crowd-sourced coordination of asset use; and social, institutional and behavioral tools that will enable the adoption of new services, such as incentive programs and community report cards that promote transparency and sustainability.

Once developed, these services will be offered through the Massachusetts Open Cloud (MOC), a new public cloud designed and implemented through the Massachusetts Green High-Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC) and supported by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.

“The SCOPE project highlights the collaborative efforts between the state, industry and academia that help make Massachusetts the leading innovation state,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “Through our Massachusetts Big Data Initiative, we’ve made open government a priority, opening data sets across multiple state agencies, improving access by researchers and the public.”

Adding further, “the project complements our ongoing efforts in state government to use data to continually increase transparency and drive constituent engagement,” said Commonwealth CIO Bill Oates. “I am excited about our partnership with the SCOPE team and look forward to the opportunities the Mass Open Cloud will create for leveraging public sector data in new ways. This important work will open doors for ongoing innovation in the delivery of services to constituents.”

“Partnerships between academics and practitioners can be the source of great innovation,” said Nigel Jacob and Chris Osgood, Co-Chairs of Boston Mayor Martin Walsh’s Office of New Urban Mechanics. “This particular grant can strengthen the City’s collaboration with Boston University; we are looking forward to see how, together, we can tackle some long-standing challenges in new ways.”

SCOPE will leverage already existing Boston University projects, including the use of sensor networking for traffic light control applications (by co-PI Christos Cassandras), fusing data from multiple sources for route planning and public works scheduling (by co-PI Evimaria Terzi), and environmental monitoring of carbon emissions in urban settings (by co-PI Lucy Hutyra). This also includes the Open Cloud eXchange (OCX), SCOPE’s enabling technology, a plug-and-play architecture that is the basis for the MOC. “OCX allows many partners, not just a single provider, to compete and cooperate on the same cloud infrastructure, effectively creating a multi-sided cloud marketplace in which innovation can flourish in support of new applications that are currently under-served by prevailing public cloud operators,” says Bestavros.

“No single company can accomplish a smart city on their own – we need to approach this opportunity collaboratively – with city government as leader, citizens at the center, technology as an enabler, and private sector partners to help make the vision a reality,” said Laurent Vernerey, President and CEO, North America Operations, Schneider Electric. “We see the SCOPE project as an exciting opportunity to demonstrate how these stakeholders can work together to develop innovative services intended to deliver substantial value to the people who live and work in the City of Boston and Massachusetts.”

“The SCOPE project will provide invaluable lessons on how to deploy a cloud-based smart city system that will help inform investment direction, policy decisions and the development of new services,” said Ruthbea Yesner Clarke, Smart City Research Director at IDC. “The potential for replication of the SCOPE model has significant ramifications for all cities and states and IDC is pleased to continue its smart city market research to support institutions like Boston University, municipalities and state government, and the vendors that serve them.”

SCOPE is a National Science Foundation Partnerships for Innovation (NSF PFI) project supported by over $1 million in funding from the NSF and its industry partners. For more information, visit http://www.bu.edu/hic/research/scope/.

Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. With more than 33,000 students, it is the fourth-largest independent university in the United States. BU consists of 16 schools and colleges, along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes integral to the University’s research and teaching mission. In 2012, BU joined the Association of American Universities (AAU), a consortium of 62 leading research universities in the United States and Canada.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 23, 2014
CONTACT: Kira Jastive, 617-358-1240 or kjastive@bu.edu

When the Biomedical Industry Can’t Prioritize Diseases, Private Money Can Save Lives​

Read the Wired article here.

Coulter Foundation Translational Partnership

For the past eight years, the mission of the Coulter Translational Partnership (CTP) program has been to promote, develop, and support translational research collaborations between engineers and clinicians in order to accelerate the successful translation of appropriate innovations to improve patient care. For the past 3 years the Coulter Foundation commitment provides $500,000 per year with an equivalent cost share provided by the university.

For 2013-2014 funding was provided to a myriad of projects, which includes renewal and funding of:

  • Point-of-care diagnostic chip for rapid antibiotic susceptibility testing using reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the clinical setting (A. Khalil, M. Klempner, and J. Collins)
  • PharmaCheck: A robust, high-throughput microfluidic platform to detect counterfeit and substandard pharmaceuticals (M. Zaman and C. Gill)
  • Diagnostic Biomarker Localized in the Nose for Non-invasive Lung Cancer Diagnosis and as Enabling Technology for Deciding CT Scan (A. Spira and M. Lenburg)
  • Optical spectroscopy guidance in thyroid surgery: identifying parathyroid and neighboring tissues during thyroid surgery (I. Bigio, J. Rosen, S. Lee, A. Sauer-budge, et al.)
  • PiezoImplant: A non-cylindrical dental implant system for narrow jawbone (A. Sauer-Budge, R. Gyurko, and S. Dibart)
  • Reversible, hydrogel-based aerosolized sealant dressing for burn treatment (M. Grinstaff and F. Brolsch)
  • Biopsy device for calcified breast biopsy harvesting that will streamline workflow and reduce need for capital equipment (J. Brooks and J. McDaniel)

For the 2014-2015 funding year, a total of 27 pre-proposals were received, 12 projects were invited to submit full proposals to the Coulter Oversight Committee and 8 projects were invited to make an oral presentation. The new projects selected for funding include Interpenetrating Phase Ceramic Matrix Composite for Dental Implant Structures by R. Giordano and X. Lin, as well as, Novel Sternal Approximation Device by J. Rosen and K. Karlson.

The renewed applications include a dissolvable, hydrogel-based aerosolized sealant dressing for the treatment of superficial to deep-second degree burns by M. Grinstaff, E. Rodriguez, and A. Nazarian.  Also renewed is a Specialized Breast Biopsy Introducer – Pilot Clinical Study by J. Brooks and J. McDaniel.

Additionally one project was conditionally funded, pending the outcome of a professional marketing study, Development of a Novel LED Device for Producing Vitamin D conducted by M. Holick and T. Moustakas.

Significant translational successes of the Coulter program to date include Boston University’s bihormonal bionic pancreas system has undergone tremendous progress since its support from the Coulter program in 2009-2010. The group has raised a total of $11.9M and the research group has started another clinical trial this summer and plans to follow with a bridge study before they move on to their pivotal study in 2015, and submit for FDA approval in 2016. The group estimates a commercial launch in 2017.  Constant Therapy, a start-up based on an IT project funded by Coulter in 2012-2013 has been given a $150K BUOTD Launch award, and has raised an additional $590K of angel funding.  The anti-tumor technology based on AhR inhibitors for triple negative breast cancer, funded by the Coulter program in 2012-2013, was licensed to the Drug Discovery Factory.

Dorm Room Fund

Two BU students, Kanav Dhir and Alexandrea Mellen, were appointed to Dorm Room Fund Boston.

“Dorm Room Fund (DRF) is a student-run venture firm that invests in student-run companies.  Our team is composed of students from many universities around Boston and our mission is to inspire and support more careers in the startup industry.  We believe that a relatively small amount of capital can help student founders take their ideas from the dorm room to the market.  We are laser-focused on working with the best student talent in the world.  We’re backed by First Round Capital,” said Dhir.

“We’re students that invest in other students,” said Dhir. “We’re not the typical VC [venture capital] firm — we don’t treat ourselves that way. We’re very much a peer-to-peer connection.”[1]

DRF has 24 student investors serving 191,725 students in Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco Bay Area, and Boston.

“My job is to look and find people at BU and other schools who have a passion, who have a drive, who really want to pursue some type of realistic startup and help them with that,” Mellen said. “I see a lot of students around campus who have ideas, but they don’t really know how to pursue them any further.”[2]

DRF undergraduates come from multiple majors:  computer science, philosophy, and chemical engineering.

“Both of us have the same circles and more technical aspects helps us try to bounce ideas off each other about which companies are coming out of BU or which students are working on cool projects that we can approach,” Dhir said. “There’s a sense of building and pushing entrepreneurship in this initiative, and Alexandrea and I being there really helps our potential to find interesting companies.”[3]

Dorm Room Fund RAs, or mentors, consist of 60 veteran entrepreneurs with combined 450 years of startup experience.  Thus far, mentors have raised over $1.3B in funding and have produced over $2.7B in company exists, including 1 IPO (Bazaarvoice; NASDAQ:BV).

For more information go to www.dormroomfund.com


[1] http://dailyfreepress.com/2014/04/29/eng-juniors-join-local-student-run-venture-company/

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.