Graduate Student Team Wins $55,000 Business Prize

MicroTransponder Project Envisions Devices to Repair Nervous System

May 13, 2008

UT Dallas graduate students captured first place in the 2008 Licensing Executives Society Foundation Graduate Student Business Plan Competition for their plan to commercialize a new wireless medical device to eliminate chronic pain.

According to the team, millions of Americans suffer from chronic pain, but current pharmaceutical and device solutions present dangerous side effects, resulting in a patient market with a substantial unmet need.

MicroTransponder Inc. is working to commercialize a neurostimulation solution to address this large and growing market by developing a tiny, biocompatible device for injection near the peripheral nerves. The device will block the pain signals and be programmable via a wireless interface such as PDA or cell phone.

“Current neurostimulation devices are ill-suited for interacting with the peripheral nerves due to their size and propensity to migrate or fail. Our device is 100 times smaller, injectable and controlled wirelessly. This versatility will enable neurostimulation treatment to be expanded to a portfolio of additional indications,” said Will Rosellini, a UT Dallas doctoral student and president and CEO of MicroTransponder.

MicroTransponder’s initial offering is to license a “Neurostimulation Pain Management System,” which can be implanted to relieve the debilitating and chronic pain associated with cancer, diabetic neuropathy, lower back pain and other conditions. Additional indications that the team aims to commercialize in the future include refractory epilepsy, stroke, neurorehabilitation and tinnitus.

The business plans were assessed on a variety of factors including attractiveness of the venture, quality of the product or service offered, market opportunity and investment potential. The winning team received a $10,000 cash prize as well as $45,000 dollars worth of in kind services from Ocean Tomo and Knobbe, Martens, Olson & Bear, LLP. 

The LES Foundation competition simulates a real-world venture capital experience and offers students networking and mentoring opportunities.

“These students are the superstars of tomorrow’s marketplace,” said Linda Chao, Office of Technology Licensing at Stanford University and chair of the competition. “Our original plan was to bring five teams to the finals, but the enormously high caliber of the entries demanded that we bring seven.”

Trailing UT Dallas in the competition were teams from Swinburne University of Technology (Australia), Duke University, SeriesTech from Lund University (Sweden), Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), the University of Hawaii; and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

More information:
Media contact: Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected]

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The MicroTransponder team

The MicroTransponder scientific team includes the following UT Dallas faculty members and doctoral students working on various aspects of the technology:

Wireless Neuroprosthesis

Larry Cauller, Ph.D.
Ken Su, Ph.D. (’10)
Ava Wu, Ph.D. (’10)
Monica Peng, Ph.D. (’10)
JB Lee, Ph.D.
David Pierce, Ph.D. (’’09)
S. Cho, Ph.D. (’09)
Jin Liu, Ph.D.
Diana Lane, Ph.D. (’09)


Patient Interface

Phillip Loizou, Ph.D.
Arthur Lobo, Ph.D.
Hoi Lee, Ph.D.
Xiwen Zhang, Ph.D. (’09)



Michael Kilgard, Ph.D.
Navzer Engineer, MD, Ph.D.
Hibah Mumtaz

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April 21, 2018