MSU Event Showcases Homegrown Biology, Biometrics & Blueberries

Michigan State University held its fourth annual Innovation Showcase last Wednesday. It was a chance to show the world some of the innovative technology and startups coming out of the university. The MSU Innovation Center also recognized the MSU Inventor of the Year, Innovator of the Year, and Tech Transfer Achievement Award winners.

A few dignitaries were on hand, including MSU president Lou Anna K. Simon; Charles Hasemann, executive director of the MSU Innovation Center; Stephen Hu, vice president of research; Rich Chylla, executive director of MSU Technologies; Brian Abraham, executive director of Spartan Innovations; and, somewhat inexplicably, former MSU basketball player Tim Bograkos.

“When it comes to invention, it requires a remarkable amount of labor and imagination to create something new,” said Hasemann in a press release. “Sharing that research with the world takes creativity, perseverance and a lot of trial and error. We provide resources and support to reduce barriers and help both students and faculty bring more of our best research ideas to market.”

Event organizers also handed out a series of awards. The award for Innovation of the Year went to Robert Abramovitch, an associate professor of microbiology and molecular genetics, for his development of tuberculosis anti-virulence chemical compounds.

The 2014 Innovator of the Year award went to Anil Jain, a professor in the department of computer science & engineering, for his work in biometrics. Biometrics, the science of identifying individuals based on physical traits, was once limited to fingerprints and composite sketches but is now on the cutting-edge of digital technology.

The 2014 MSU Technology Transfer Achievement Award went to James Hancock, a professor of agriculture and natural resources, for his work in northern highbush blueberry cultivars. His innovations regarding these new varieties of blueberries represent highly productive means of generating flavorful and long-lasting blueberries.

Also on hand at the event were a variety of exhibitors displaying some really interesting technologies, including AFEX biomass processing with Bruce Dale; software for face detection and fingerprint detection with Anil Jain; using the mineral tetrahedrite as a direct source of thermoelectric materials; and a variety of student startups, including CourseWeaver, Folyo, Air Fuel, and Carbon Cash.

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