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2024 Innovation Celebration

East Lansing, MI—The Michigan State University Innovation Center hosted its annual Innovation Celebration on campus at the Kellogg Center on Tuesday, April 2nd, 2024. The celebration showcased the cutting-edge technologies and startups emerging from the brilliant minds of MSU faculty and students and featured more than 30 faculty and student exhibits highlighting some of the innovative technologies and startups developed at MSU.

The 2024 Innovation Celebration drew more than 350 of the region’s top innovators, visionaries, and entrepreneurial supporters who gathered to celebrate and promote the research, innovation, and entrepreneurship that is happening across MSU’s campus.

This year’s event recognized six awardees whose innovations, technologies, entrepreneurship, and corporate partnerships exemplified the culture of research and innovation at MSU.

The 2024 Awardees include:


Innovation Celebration Awardees

Innovation of the Year Award: Bjoern Hamberger, Ph.D.

Björn Hamberger, an Associate Professor at Michigan State University, and his team have been recognized for their pioneering work bioengineering bacteria to produce valuable compounds like carotenoids. Inspired by nature’s medicinal plants and their centuries-old impact on human health, Hamberger’s research delves into leveraging microbial engineering to create commercially valuable molecules, with a focus on nutraceutical components like lycopene. Their breakthrough technology, supported by MSU Technologies and translational research funding, not only showcases the potential of microbial production but also underscores the importance of commercialization in translating scientific innovations into real-world impact, highlighting the fusion of scientific excellence and business acumen in advancing human well-being.


Innovator of the Year Award: Wen Li, Ph.D.

Wen Li, a Professor at Michigan State University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is at the forefront of a sensor revolution, focusing on micro technologies with macro impact. Her team’s research spans various areas, from developing neural activity recording devices for brain research to wearable sensors like contact lens-based ones for glaucoma detection. They also work on electrochemical sensing using polycrystalline diamond to detect environmental pollutants. Li’s innovative work has to numerous patents during her time at MSU, with MSU Technologies supporting her in commercializing her inventions, highlighting her commitment to bridging technology and real-world impact for societal benefit.


Technology Transfer Achievement Award: Xuefei Huang, Ph.D.

Xuefei Huang’s groundbreaking work in revolutionizing immunity through the Q Beta nanoparticle has garnered significant attention and acclaim. His focus on targeting carbohydrate antigens associated with diseases like cancer and infections led to the development of Q Beta, a carrier system that boosts immune responses against the target antigens. This innovative approach, recognized with the Technology Transfer Achievement award, has not only paved the way for potential anti-cancer vaccines but also led to the creation of Iaso Therapeutics, a startup company aimed at commercializing and further developing Q Beta for medical use. Supported by MSU Technologies and the MSU Research Foundation, Huang’s journey from laboratory discovery to entrepreneur showcases the vital role of translational research in bridging basic science with impactful real-world solutions.


Corporate Connector of the Year Award: Mahmoodul Haq, Ph.D.

Michigan State University has been at the forefront of composite materials research for over 25 years, thanks, in-part, to the new Director of the Composite Vehicle Research Center (CVRC), Dr. Mahmoodul Haq. Haq’s collaborations with industry giants like Eaton and PPG have propelled advancements in composite shell design, experimental mechanics, and smart sensing systems, particularly in developing lightweight, all-terrain autonomous ground vehicles. Under Haq’s leadership, the CVRC has secured a $9 million partnership with the U.S. Army to revolutionize military vehicle technology. This ambitious project aims to create nimble, all-electric, autonomous vehicles, reducing risks to soldiers and boosting Michigan’s economy. Haq’s holistic approach to collaboration, supported by MSU Business Connect, emphasizes the integration of faculty expertise and industry resources, creating a fertile ground for innovation and impact on future STEM leaders.


Startup of the Year Award: RedoxBlox

RedoxBlox, a company rooted in MSU’s technology, is at the forefront of a renewable energy storage revolution. Their innovative storage module, using non-toxic metal oxide pellets heated by renewable electricity, efficiently stores excess renewable energy and releases it as heat or electricity when needed. This groundbreaking technology, targeting industrial heat and grid storage, aims to decarbonize major industries and significantly reduce global carbon emissions. With strategic support from the MSU Innovation Center and investments and entrepreneurial support from entities like the MSU Research Foundation, RedoxBlox is poised for rapid growth, with estimates projecting half a billion in revenue by 2030 and plans to leverage tax credits and government funding to fuel their mission of revolutionizing renewable energy storage.


Student Startup of the Year Award: Reel Free

ReelFree, a company founded by Alexander and Austin Pollock at Michigan State University, started as a solution for their grandfather’s mobility challenges with oxygen tubing but quickly evolved into a mission to enhance elderly care. Their innovative device, powered by an easy-to-use remote, reels in up to 50 feet of oxygen tubing, reducing fall risks for older adults. The overwhelming response to their prototype led to the creation of the startup company ReelFree. Through grants, competitions, and mentorship support from MSU’s Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the Pollock brothers have navigated the entrepreneurial landscape, winning accolades and funds while working towards FDA registration and envisioning their technology in hospitals. Their journey underscores the transformative impact of student entrepreneurship and the vital role of university support in translating prototypes into purposeful solutions.


About MSU Innovation Center:

The MSU Innovation Center is dedicated to fostering innovation, research commercialization, and entrepreneurial activities from the research and discovery happening across our campus every day. We act as the primary interface for researchers aiming to see their research applied to solving real-world problems and making the world a better place to live. We aim to empower faculty, researchers, and students within our community of scholars by providing them with the knowledge, skills, and opportunities to bring their discoveries to the forefront. Through strategic collaborations with the private sector, we aim to amplify the impact of faculty research and drive economic growth while positively impacting society. We foster mutually beneficial, long-term relationships with the private sector through corporate-sponsored research collaborations, technology licensing discussions, and support for faculty entrepreneurs to support the establishment of startup companies.

2024 MSU Innovation Celebration Student Exhibitor Spotlight

Explore the innovative spirit of our student entrepreneurs at our student startup exhibits! Discover the next generation of business leaders and the diverse talents and entrepreneurial drive of our students. Dive into a world of innovation, creativity, and impactful ventures that are shaping the future of business and society. Join us in celebrating the...

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2024 MSU Innovation Celebration Digital Program

Welcome to the digital program guide for the 2024 Innovation Celebration! Here, you can delve into the inspiring stories of this year's award winners and discover the exciting work they are doing. From groundbreaking research to transformative inventions, our award winners are at the forefront of innovation in their respective fields. Explore their journeys,...

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2024 MSU Innovation Celebration Faculty Exhibitor Spotlight

Discover the forefront of technological innovation and groundbreaking research at our faculty technology, innovations, and startup exhibits. Our esteemed faculty members are driving advancements in various fields, from cutting-edge technologies to transformative innovations that are reshaping industries. Explore a curated collection of exhibits showcasing the latest inventions, disruptive technologies, and startup ventures led by...

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