Two UW Tacoma Teams Get NSF I-Corps Grants

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Teams of faculty and students from the Institute of Technology working with area entrepreneurs will receive funds to help move their innovations into the commercial sphere.

Two teams from UW Tacoma have received National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (aka I-Corps) grants.

UW is one of a number if NSF I-Corps sites around the country. According to NSF, “The I-Corps Sites program enables academic institutions to catalyze teams whose technology concepts are likely candidates for commercialization.” Under the program, UW’s CoMotion, which speeds up the transformation of university research into commercial innovations, distributes grants to “exploratory business ventures started by faculty, staff, students and alumni” specifically to help those ventures with the process of customer discovery.

The grants are small ($2,500) but come at a critical time in the startup lifecycle, often before a business plan has been completed. Customer identification, acquisition and retention can be among the biggest hurdles an early-stage startup can face.

The UW Tacoma teams who have received I-Corps grants are:

Travis Guterson – 7 Seas Brewing co-founder and brewmaster - Entrepreneurial lead
Reagan Stovall, 2017 B.S. computer engineering – Team member
Andrew Gates, 2017 B.S. computer engineering/computer science – Team member
Andrew Klonitsko, 2017 B.S. computer engineering – Team member
Matthew Tolentino, assistant professor, Institute of Technology – Academic lead
Roland Brown – Business mentor

From the team’s description of its project proposal:

“Our project is focused around measuring the specific gravity of various liquids both cheaply and accurately while adjusting for temperature variances. Specific gravity is a measure used mainly in the creation of alcoholic beverages as an indicator of potential sugars that can be converted to alcohol via yeast. The most common way of measuring SG is by means of an analog float that, while accurate at room temperatures, changes dramatically during the brew process and requires a discerning eye, so is typically used only at sparse intervals. Our goal is to be able to measure the SG at all times…with a controller that can be interfaced through a simple phone app, an emailed dataset, or via a serial connection for fine control… .”

Vishal Diwaan - 2017 B.A. Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences - Entrepreneurial lead
Dana Scott - 2016 M.S. geospatial technologies, 2012 B.A. environmental studies – Team member
Nicole Simon - 2011 bachelor of landscape architecture (UW Seattle), lead site designer at Juxtapose Design Build – Team member
Andrew Fry – Lecturer, assistant director of industry partnership - Academic lead
John Plaza – Business mentor

From the team’s description of its project proposal:

“Handimaps is a technology brand aiming to gain independence for its users. Through our application, we will provide knowledge on accessible travel in any event space, thus giving our users the freedom and flexibility to enjoy each and every outing on their terms. We plan to do this by giving users with disabilities, or any sort of accessibility impairment, information on custom accessible routes based on their impediment. … We plan to have many accessibility features on the app, including voice control, so we can adapt to each user’s individual needs. … HandiMaps [will be] alone in mapping the inside of venues strictly based on accessibility. We aim to fulfill the role of a trusted advisor for those with a disability.”

Written by: 
John Burkhardt / April 20, 2017
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or