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The ninth annual University of Massachusetts Innovation Challenge final business plan competition was held on April 7. The event culminated in awards to five competing teams from a prize pool of $50,000 provided by private sector contributions as well as two special $5,000 named awards – The David Wolf Prize and The Glass Prize. Rescue Collar won the top prize of $25,000, followed by mDiagnostics which won a total of $15,000. Fiberessence and Nine Brain each won $7,500, while Acne Free, Naturally received $5,250 at the event. Rescue Collar offers a wearable device that reunites lost pets with their owners through community and technology at the push of a button. Both mDiagnostics and Fiberessence are teams from the College of Engineering.

Michael Zink of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has come up with a brilliant solution for a very expensive problem: The various applications for networks of electronic sensing devices such as radars or cameras cannot be shared. For example, radar networks are applied for either weather forecasting or tracking aircraft. Camera systems might be applied for border security or Coast Guard life-saving activities. Currently each application for every system requires its own, often expensive, sensing infrastructure to allow the individual units to operate in unison. Zink is about to change all that. Zink has received a five-year grant of approximately $400,000 from the prestigious National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program.

Matthew Lackner of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department was recently featured on Research Next, the web magazine about research, scholarship, and creativity at UMass Amherst. As the Research Next article noted, “The UMass Wind Energy Center, a leading wind energy research institution since 1972, is what drew Lackner to UMass Amherst a decade ago—it was one of the few institutions offering programs focused solely on wind energy. Now, as a member of the center and an executive faculty advisor for the campus’s federally funded IGERT (Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship) Offshore Wind Energy program, Lackner is researching the next generation of offshore wind turbines.” Read full story: http://www.umass.edu/researchnext//blade-runner.