The CRI Announces the Fall 2022 Spark Fund Awardees

Sep 16, 2022 | CRI, Innovation, Spark Fund

Northeastern CRI is excited to announce the Fall 2022 Spark Fund Awardees.

What is the Spark Fund?

The Spark Fund supports commercially valuable inventions (from any field) from university researchers in earlier stages of development. The goal of the award is to advance a technology or suite of technologies from academia towards commercialization.

Spark Fund grants may be used to advance the commercial prospects of inventions in many different ways, including but not limited to:

  • Building a commercially ready prototype
  • Animal testing to generate in vivo data
  • Optimizing processes for yield, speed, cost
  • Repurposing tech to meet industry needs

Each award cycle includes 5 or more awards. Each award recipient receives a grant up to $50,000.

Who are the Fall 2022 Spark Fund Awardees?

Representing multiple colleges and disciplines, the Fall 2022 cohort of Spark Fund awardees presented diverse and exciting projects to the CRI. Their research accomplishments are all strong representative examples of the society-driven impact our community looks to achieve.

These six awardees were carefully evaluated and chosen out of a total of thirty strong applicants. The six awardees are:

Mansoor AmijiProfessor Mansoor Amiji, Ph.D., of the Biomaterials and Advanced Nano-Delivery Systems (BANDS) Laboratory, Bouvé College of Health Sciences

Amiji’s research focuses on the development of novel delivery technologies to target drugs to specific sites in the body. His lab is currently working to develop a multicompartmental polymer-based oral formulation for delivery of RNA molecules to select sites and cells in the gastrointestinal tract. This area of research and technology development has significant implications for oral vaccination and therapeutics.

Sara HashmiAssistant Professor Sara M. Hashmi, Ph.D., of The Hashmi Complex Fluids Lab, College of Engineering

Hashmi’s lab studies how soft materials suspended in fluids flow through small spaces, such as how red blood cells move through the body’s capillaries. Her lab aims to better understand complex fluid flow and flowability, and how phenomena like droplet deformation, particle softness and polymer gelation affect the ability of fluids to travel through pore spaces. Her team is developing a device to measure flow to quantify softness of the components of a complex fluid. These measurements have indications for a variety of disease states.

Purnima MakrisProfessor Purnima Makris, Ph.D., and team of The Laboratory for Ocean Acoustics and Ecosystem Sensing, College of Science

Makris’ lab focuses on developing mobile, towable large-aperture densely populated coherent hydrophone array systems, including both sensor hardware and real-time array data analysis and processing software for enabling rapid scientific discoveries at sea. The lab is designing a compact version of the array to be used commercially for general-purpose sensing on smaller vessels, making the array technology accessible to wide range of ocean users without the need for machinery. Their technology will lead to a multitude of applications, including commercial, recreational, academic research, conservation, and maritime security.

Mohsen MoghaddamAssistant Professor Mohsen Moghaddam, Associate Professor Tucker Marion, and Professor Paolo Ciuccarelli, Advanced Design Augmentation (ADA) Technologies, LLC

ADA Technologies offers an end-to-end AI-powered software-as-a-service platform that aims at augmenting designers’ creativity and innovation by eliciting the unmet needs of users from social media, online forums, and e-commerce platforms, and leveraging that information to generate and evaluate new design concepts. The vision of ADA Tech is to foster designer-AI co-creation and innovation centered on empathy with users and bias mitigation, to bridge the gap between user need discovery, social impact, and design.

Peter BexDr. Peter Bex of The Translational Vision Science Lab, College of Science

Bex’s lab focuses on the study of the developmental and aging human visual system. The lab is working to both enhance the fundamental understanding of human visual perception and cognition, and also to improve diagnostic and treatment regimens for visual disorders in clinical populations. These clinical applications have the potential to be useful beyond specific research applications and so the lab aims to translate their research insights into useful and impactful patents and products.

Emily Professor Emily Zimmerman, NeuroSense Diagnostics, Bouvé College of Health Sciences

NeuroSense Diagnostics objectively measures and longitudinally monitors the patterns of non-nutritive suck (NNS), or sucking without nutrient being delivered, to infants. NeuroSense Diagnostics is the only non-contact infant suck monitoring system. Their smartphone app will offer infant suck monitoring to a vast potential customer base—in a package far more affordable and convenient than existing options—by leveraging cutting edge, in-house computer vision technology developed by their uniquely qualified team. Their technology guides therapy and improves safety by lowering the risk of feeding aversion and the danger of milk aspiration into the lungs. NeuroSense Diagnostics will be the first technology to track infant NNS remotely and will have a huge positive impact on families.


“Applying for the Spark Fund was a tremendous experience,” said Moghaddam. “The Spark Fund team was very supportive and provided us with the information and resources necessary to succeed.”

The applications were carefully evaluated by several judges who are leaders in innovation in industry.

“I enjoyed serving as a judge for the Spark Fund and helping professors translate their research to market,” said Vincent Ling, Senior Director, Takeda Center for External Innovation and Spark Fund Judge. “This program aligns with Northeastern’s approach of encouraging innovation.”

Learn More About the Spark Fund and Past Awardees

If you’d like to learn more about the six Fall 2022 Spark Fund awardees, you can read more about their research and innovations on our website.

Applications are currently closed for the year, but you can also learn more about the Spark Fund, as well as the eligibility requirements and the terms of the funding on our website. Applications for future award cycles will open soon.

Written by Elizabeth Creason