Adam Grabell (Psychological and Brain Sciences) and Tauhidur Rahman (Information and Computer Sciences) have received a Technology Development Fund award from the University of Massachusetts. Across the five-campus UMass system, ten faculty research projects will each receive up to $25,000 from the Technology Development Fund, which helps to commercialize scientific breakthroughs. The fund is overseen by the Office of Technology Commercialization and Ventures (OTCV) at the UMass President’s Office in Boston.
The Technology Development Fund awards provide supplemental funding to help close the gap between UMass research discoveries and proven technology that address the most pressing issues facing the region, the nation, and the world, often laying the groundwork for major breakthroughs.
“These faculty projects showcase how UMass continues to realize long-term growth and achievement in its commercialization enterprise,” said Carl Rust, Executive Director of Industry Engagement and Business Development, who oversees the OTCV initiative.
Grabell and Rahman have created EarlyScreen, a lab-based game and algorithm that detects the presence of psychological disorders in preschool children with a high degree of accuracy compared to commonly used diagnosis tools. Psychological disorders emerging in the first few years of life often persist across later developmental stages and into adulthood, resulting in significant impairment and societal costs. The emerging signs of psychological disorders are difficult to differentiate from normative misbehavior in early childhood, creating a “when to worry” problem for caregivers and providers. EarlyScreen’s algorithm automatically extracts features such as facial expressions, gaze, and head movement from video footage.
Since 2004, UMass has invested nearly $3 million in faculty R&D projects through the Technology Development Fund. Projects are chosen for their commercial viability, in hopes that development of the technology will lead to a startup company or licensing agreement. Funding for the annual awards comes from commercial licensing income on previous faculty discoveries.
UMass continues to have a strong record of generating income from the commercialization of its academic research – $257 million over the last five years – and typically places among the top 25 universities in a national survey of income generated by technology transfer.