The MIT-Pillar AI Collective has recently announced the recipients of its first round of grants. These grants will provide funding and support to students, alumni, and postdocs working on various projects in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and data science. The goal is to encourage the exploration of commercial applications for their research, with the potential for creating successful startups.
The dean of the School of Engineering and the Vannevar Bush Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Anantha Chandrakasan, expressed excitement at the prospect of these research projects leading to groundbreaking innovations in different industries. The hope is that these ventures could revolutionize fields such as drug delivery and video conferencing.
The MIT-Pillar AI Collective was launched in September 2022 as a pilot program. It is funded by a generous gift of $1 million from Pillar VC, with the aim of fostering entrepreneurship and driving innovation in AI-related areas. The program, administered by the MIT Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation, focuses on market discovery, supporting projects through market research, customer discovery, and prototyping. Graduate students and postdocs involved in the program work towards developing minimum viable products.
Along with financial support, the MIT-Pillar AI Collective provides mentorship and guidance to grant recipients. This assistance is vital in navigating the rapidly advancing AI landscape and ensuring access to the necessary resources for success. Jinane Abounadi, the managing director of the MIT-Pillar AI Collective, emphasizes the importance of such support in this fast-paced environment.
The recipients of the inaugural grants will benefit from advice from experienced entrepreneurs and assistance in identifying key milestones. The AI Collective facilitates feedback from potential end-users and early-stage investors, promoting collaboration and community-building. Community events, including a speaker series called “Founder Talks,” further foster a vibrant ecosystem.
The first cohort of grant recipients covers a diverse range of projects. Abdullah Alomar, an electrical engineering and computer science PhD candidate, is working on a predictive query interface for time series databases. This user-friendly interface aims to improve demand and financial data forecasting while streamlining data engineering processes.
Simon Axelrod, a PhD candidate in chemical physics at Harvard University, merges AI with physics simulations to design light-activated drugs that reduce side effects and enhance effectiveness. By using light to activate drugs locally within diseased tissue, Axelrod’s computational models accelerate the drug discovery process.
Arjun Balasingam, a PhD student in electrical engineering and computer science, is developing MobiSee. This technology enables real-time 3D reconstruction in dynamic environments using self-supervised AI methods, video, and lidar. MobiSee has broad applications in mixed reality, navigation, safety, sports streaming, and more.
Guillermo Bernal, a recent PhD graduate in media arts and sciences, is creating Fascia, a sleep therapeutic platform. This system allows sleep specialists and researchers to conduct comprehensive studies and develop therapy plans remotely. It consists of a polysomnogram, a hub for stimulation and feedback, and a web portal for real-time analysis using machine learning.
Michael Foshey, a mechanical engineer and project manager, is focused on developing an AI-enabled tactile perception system for robots. This system aims to give robots human-like dexterity, automating assembly tasks in manufacturing. By reducing the reliance on manual labor, this technology can address labor shortages and improve production efficiency.
Vibhaalakshmi Sivaraman, a PhD candidate in electrical engineering and computer science, is working on Gemino. This generative AI technology facilitates video conferencing in high-latency and low-bandwidth network environments. Overcoming the limitations of current face-image-synthesis models, Gemino enables sustained video conferencing calls in regions where they were previously unreliable.
The MIT-Pillar AI Collective is thrilled to guide these grant recipients on their entrepreneurial journey. The hope is that these projects will lead to the creation of successful companies that can drive innovation and transform industries. Jamie Goldstein, founder of Pillar VC, expressed excitement in providing support and guidance to these entrepreneurial individuals.
Overall, the MIT-Pillar AI Collective’s grant recipients showcase the exceptional talent and promise in the field of AI and its applications. Through funding, mentorship, and support, these individuals have the opportunity to make a meaningful impact and contribute to the advancement of AI technology and its commercialization.