Hyundai-Brown Research Collaboration

Fourteen UK Companies Visit Brown SoE

December, 2019. On December 5, fourteen companies from the UK visited Brown to learn about our research on graphene and its commercial potential. Although it has many applications, one exciting aspect of graphene is that it can be used to make a stretchable, breathable micro-barrier that allows you to keep tiny, unwanted molecules out, or keep precious ones in. This highly versatile material has a wide array of applications including packaging, textiles and flexible devices, multi-functional fabrics (chemical protection, sensing and actuation).  The technology can also be used to create selective barriers, membranes, stretchable electronics or soft robotics. Other applications could include food/drug packaging, protective fabrics, wearable electronics, packaging/encapsulation of complex shapes or mechanically dynamic devices, or lightweight inflatables. 

Dean Larry Larson, Professor Robert Hurt and Professor Nitin Padture provided a strategic overview of the School's direction along with details on specific graphene related research programs. The visit was made possible through collaboration with the RI Commerce Corporation, Innovate UK, the School of Engineering and the office of Industry Engagement and Commercial Venturing at Brown.


Danish Renewable Energy Company Visits Brown

December, 2019. A Danish renewable energy company, Ørsted, visited Brown in October to learn about our research capacities in engineering, data science and materials research related to wind energy. Ørsted is ranked seventh on the HBR’s list of “Top 20 Business Transformations of the Last Decade”. With their acquisition of Deepwater Wind in 2018, the company now has an RI presence, and is looking to expand their operational excellence in off-shore wind energy. 

The Ørsted vision is a world that runs entirely on green energy. Ørsted develops, constructs and operates offshore and onshore wind farms, bioenergy plants and provides energy products to its customers. Headquartered in Denmark, Ørsted employs 6,300 people. Ørsted’s shares are listed on Nasdaq Copenhagen (Ørsted). In 2018, the group’s revenue was DKK 76.9 billion (EUR 10.3 billion).

Along with RI Commerce, Jill Pipher, Larry Larson, Björn Sandstede and Nitin Padture discussed Brown's research  at South Street Landing on October 17th.

Smart Mobility - The View from Brown

November, 2019. Brown took the stage in San Francisco on November 7 at the Hyundai Mobility Innovator’s Forum. The forum showcased moonshots for all kinds of transport: from kickboards, cars, and buses to drones and flying taxis, with about 650 in the audience.

Speakers shared ideas not just about electric vehicles but new ways of thinking about where we will travel—rethinking urban developments of single-story buildings on obsolete highways and creating new freeways in the sky. Along with speakers like Mate Rimac of Croatia--the innovator, entrepreneur, and founder of the electric car company Rimac-- Brown had two faculty members and two graduate students present their visions for the future of smart mobility.

As the only speakers from an academic institution, Brown researchers were introduced using the image shown here:

In the upper left corner, the red trace is from a bat in flight. Doctoral student Alberto Bortoni, shared how bats—some of the world’s best fliers—could transform how we think about flying robots—and one day—flying cars. Bertoni spoke for his lab team, fellow student Xiaozhou Fan and professors Kenny Breuer (Engineering) and Sharon Swartz (Evolutionary Biology).

The brain indicates Professor David Sheinberg’s neuroscience lab and the Carney Institute for Brain Science. Sheinberg described how he and his students, Diana Burk and Aarit Ahuja, are working to understand how machines—not known for their high emotional intelligence—could learn to read and react to human perceptions. 

Eric Rosen, a doctoral student in Professor Stefanie Tellex’s computer science lab, described how robots—even cars—could be operated by the casual language we use with other humans to get the help we need every day. 

In the final image, a person stands in virtual reality, connected to Professor Bill Warren’s Virtual Environmental Navigation (VEN) Lab, where his graduate students Brittany Baxter (PhD ‘20) and Meghan Willcoxon (PhD ‘21) are working on the Hyundai project. Warren presented how his lab models pedestrian behavior so that vehicles—from kickboards and cars to personal airplanes—can safely navigate crowds, possibly in three dimensions. 

Brown’s collaboration with Hyundai, coordinated by the Office of Industry Engagement and Commercial Venturing, began with a student competition last fall, the Hyundai Visionary Challenge, in which student teams from these labs won cash awards totaling $45,000 and presented at the Mobility Innovator’s Forum last year. Brown’s presentations at the 2019 Forum closed the second phase of the collaboration between Brown and Hyundai, Idea Incubation, where each of these four labs received $50,000 for a six-month pilot project. The third phase is in design; with details to be announced in January.

Brown-Hyundai Research Collaboration

Brown’s relationship with Hyundai Motor Group is quickly becoming a model for University-Industry partnerships that deepen understandings between scientists, and expands Hyundai’s investment in Brown over time. We completed the Hyundai Visionary Challenge last fall, and have funded four pilot research projects ($50,000) for Drs. Kenny Breuer and Sharon Swartz, David Sheinberg, Stefanie Tellex and William Warren. These teams will present at the Hyundai Mobility Innovator’s Forum in San Francisco in November. The next phase will be announced later this fall (roughly $200,000 for four projects for 1 year, with potential for additional year).

Industry Interests

Reversing Age-Associated Inflammation

October, 2019. Leading life sciences venture capital firms Canaan Partners and Domain Ventures visited Brown with Dr. John Sedivy and IECV team members in October. Next up: IECV will facilitate a scientific and commercial exploration to license and fund a company based upon Dr. Sedivy’s patent-pending intellectual property for compositions and methods for preventing and reversing age-associated inflammation.

Cancer Medical Device Technology Gains

October, 2019. IECV is working with licensee Theromics Inc. to source a $1.2 million seed equity investment from Launchpad Ventures, New England’s largest angel investment organization. With anticipated follow-on syndicated investment from two other angel groups of up to $800,000, Theromics is now expected to be able to complete FDA “smart device” regulatory approval and enter the cancer thermal ablation marketplace in early 2022. Brown faculty founders include Dr. Damian Dupuy, Dr. Ed Walsh, and Dr. William Park (emeritus). Launchpad Chairman Hambleton Lord, Brown ’83, has expressed continued interest in having Brown-licensed start-ups join the Launchpad portfolio.​

Nutritionally Enhanced Food and Beverages Explored

October, 2019. Ocean Spray Inc. has agreed to send a team to further develop collaborative research plans with Brown’s Microbiome Consortium and Biomed faculty specializing in nutrition. Ocean Spray has committed to developing a major new product line of nutritionally enhanced food and beverage products, based upon rigorous evidence-based experimentation and testing. They will be back for more later in November.​