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Commercializing research: Ohio State-developed software aims to support industry

Researcher

Mrinal Kumar

  • Associate Professor, Mechanical & Aerospace Engr

Associate Professor Mrinal Kumar and his team are one step closer to possibly commercializing research they developed at The Ohio State University. Team “Point Prognostics” is designing software to optimize maintenance schedules for industrial equipment.

The team successfully completed the 2019 I-Corps@Ohio program, an eight-week program aimed at helping selected faculty and student teams determine if their intellectual property could be the basis of a startup company. In all, 13 teams from Ohio research universities and organizations participated in this year’s competitive program. They shared their final business concept videos and presentations on July 11.

The I-Corps@Ohio process helps researchers get out of their “academic bubble,” said Kumar.

photo of Kumar, Downing and AggarwalKumar, Downing and AggarwalHe and doctoral student Rachit Aggarwal are creating a closed-loop forecasting framework for system prognostics and decision support. They are advised by industry mentor Mike Downing.

“The software is designed to optimize maintenance schedules for equipment, which is intended to reduce costs by preventing unexpected shutdowns and premature repair,” said Kumar.

The solution is built upon a robust, scalable computational platform capable of delivering trustworthy forecasts of key performance indicators as established by the client.

“As researchers, we are often too focused on solving problems at the ‘fundamental level’ and do not necessarily look at the other side—whether this might actually be something that people or companies can use,” Kumar said.

The team’s software platform offers controllable accuracy, according to Kumar. This translates to confident decision making, as well as optimization of system performance, maintenance schedules and failure avoidance. The intended results? Savings in time and cost.

image of graphs demonstrating softwareA comparison of solutions for a space forecasting problem (left), and why it works.As part of the I-Corps@Ohio program, the team conducted a customer discovery process. They identified thirteen potential segments to which their product offers a value proposition.

“One of the top segments to emerge lies within the pharmaceutical sector,” commented Kumar. “There, the controllable accuracy offered by our simulation platform can speed up the process of new drug discovery.

“Another segment of high impact concerns the prediction of the failure of critical, access-restricted components in the oil and gas sector. Promise has also been shown for application in the aerospace industry, where our tools can bring about a paradigm shift in the way aircraft engine failure prediction is performed.”

Most of the teams that finished I-Corps@Ohio will continue the process they began in the program before deciding whether to create a startup company or otherwise license their products. Five Ohio State teams participated in the 2019 cohort.

I-Corps@Ohio, an initiative of the Ohio Department of Higher Education, is a statewide program that helps Ohio faculty and graduate students determine the market potential of their technologies and assists with the launch of startup companies.