First-year student Connor MacFarlane of the Chemical Engineering Department won the Innovation Challenge Minute Pitch competition on October 16, thus earning a first-place prize of $1,000 in addition to an audience choice award of $250. MacFarlane’s prize-winning venture is a trailblazing insulin-delivery system for all insulin-dependent diabetics. The Minute Pitch was the initial stage of the four-part Innovation Challenge, which resumes on November 20 with the Seed Pitch.
The UMass News Office reports that Ernest Pharmaceuticals, a startup venture co-founded by Professor Neil St. John Forbes of the Chemical Engineering Department and based in UMass Amherst’s Institute of Applied Life Sciences (IALS), is one of four companies each to win $2,500 from the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center (MTTC) in a business pitch poster competition in Boston. Forbes founded the company with current Ernest Pharmaceuticals CEO and bioengineer Nele Van Dessel. The MTTC award recognizes the groundbreaking young biotech firm for its research on programmed bacteria that deliver anticancer treatment to tumors.
Associate Professor Jessica Schiffman, the Professor James M. Douglas Career Development Faculty Fellow in the Chemical Engineering Department, is the principal investigator on a three-year, $340,541 award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF grant will support her research team’s investigation into new membrane technology that was inspired by the Nepenthes Pitcher Plant.