Merrill Lynch's $50k Dissertation Prize

Rohit Khare (
Fri, 2 Apr 1999 16:35:53 -0800

{hey, greg... it's a smashing jury to get your idea in front of... RK }

The Merrill Lynch Forum is pleased to sponsor the Innovation Grants
Competition again following a successful first year with over two
hundred proposals from Ph.D.s around the world. The Forum will award
up to $150,000 to eligible Ph.D. candidates who best explain the
commercial application of their dissertation topic.

Last year's winning proposals ranged from a new type of power
converter to genetically engineered yogurt for lowering blood
cholesterol levels to software products that could aid mental health
professionals in identifying potential suicides. Generally,
successful entrants did not emphasize the complexity of their
research, but presented the key principles necessary for successfully
commercializing their ideas.

Through the Competition the Forum seeks to spark new levels of
creativity and ingenuity at the world's research universities by
challenging doctoral candidates in the sciences, liberal arts and
engineering disciplines to examine their dissertations in light of
their commercial potential. The goal is to encourage "entrepreneurial
literacy" among the academic research community - fostering greater
awareness of market opportunities and highlighting the wealth of
intellectual capital being created at the world's institutions of
higher learning. At the same time, the Innovation Grants Competition
will seek to make academic research more accessible and relevant to
the public at large.

The Forum hopes that applicants will embrace this challenge to step
outside their familiar environment and look for the unexplored value
in their research. It is equally as important that applicants take
the time and care to communicate that value in a compelling and
succinct way.

In addition to receiving cash awards, winners will meet with leading
entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to discuss their ideas. The top
five winning candidates' university departments will receive a $5,000
Innovation Grant in recognition of their support of the Competition.
The University that submits the most eligible entrants will also
receive a special cash grant.

Important Note:It is a requirement that applicants fill out the
electronic application form on the website in order for their
proposals to be considered. If you have any questions, please call
the Innovation Grants Competition at 1-888-33FORUM or send e-mail to


Director, Innovation Grants Competition
Chief Scientist, Xerox Corporation and
Director, Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (otherwise known as Xerox PARC)
Chairman, EDventure Holdings Inc.
President, E.M. Warburg, Pincus & Co. International Ltd.
Chairman & CEO, The International Herald Tribune
Chairman & CEO, Human Genome Sciences
Vice President of Research, Interval Research Corporation
Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

1st Place Winner - $50,000
Single-Chip Power Converter
Dr. Jan Mark Noworolski
Electrical Engineering
The University of California at Berkeley
A unique one-chip power converter that uses electromechanical energy
instead of inductive energy storage. Applicable to all kinds of
portable electronics such as laptop computers, cellular phones, and

2nd Place Winners - $20,000
Membrane Chips
Dr. Jay T. Groves
Stanford University
A technology that enables biological membranes to be incorporated
into computer chips. Target market would be the medical diagnostic
industry, particularly for AIDS research, leukemia, and immunoassays.

Multiple-Unit Artificial Retina Chipset
Dr. Elliot McGucken
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
NC State University
A computer-chip based device that can provide limited-resolution
vision for people with retinal-based blindness. Beneficiaries would
be 10,000,000 people worldwide suffering from forms of blindness
including retinal pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration.

3rd Place Winners - $10,000
Male Oral Contraceptive
Dr. Bruce Lahn
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Whitehead Institute of Biomedical
Discovery of the role of gene called CDY in producing an essential
enzyme for sperm production. Market application would be a male oral
contraceptive that worked by chemically inhibiting production of the

Artificially Engineered Quantum Solid Materials
Dr. Alexander Balandin
Electrical Engineering
University of Notre Dame
A study of quantum confinement effects that allow for the
re-engineering of the optical, electronic and thermal properties of
most technologically important materials. The most significant market
application would be improved optoelectronic electronic, and
thermoelectric devices such as CD players, digital cameras, and
optical drives.