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TR100, class of 1999
TR100, class of 2002

It goes without saying: once a TR100 winner, always a TR100 winner. So the last thing we’d do is lose sight of the 200 honorees we’ve previously recognized in the magazine and at our Young Innovators and TR100 conferences. We’re keeping tabs, and the information we have should surprise nobody. Yes, even in the aftermath of the so-called dot-bomb, those remarkable, groundbreaking researchers and inventive entrepreneurs continue taking risks-forming companies, raising venture capital to expand existing enterprises, unveiling technological breakthroughs, and otherwise exploring new frontiers.

Launches

Daniel Branagan (2002) is now chief technical officer of NanoSteel in Maitland, FL, founded in 2002 to commercialize the superhard steel alloys he invented when he was working for the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory in Idaho Falls, ID.

Last September, former Inktomi chief technology officer Steve McCanne (2002) founded NBT Technology in San Francisco with $6.6 million. Shifting focus from ideas McCanne pioneered at an earlier startup, FastForward Networks, NBT aims to eliminate wide-area network bottlenecks by using software that improves network application performance for customers with far-flung operations.

Professor Adam Arkin (1999) of the University of California, Berkeley, serves as director of the Virtual Institute for Microbial Stress and Survival, which he founded. Funded with a $36.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, the institute’s first project-an investigation of various microbes and the ways they neutralize toxins-involves researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley, Sandia, and Oak Ridge National Laboratories, San Diego-based Diversa, the University of Washington, and the University of Missouri. Arkin believes the effort could uncover cost-effective ways of using microbes to clean hazardous-waste sites.

European Bioinformatics Institute researcher Ewan Birney (2002) posted Genome KnowledgeBase on the World Wide Web in February 2003. The site, at www.genomeknowledge.org, provides a forum in which collaborators worldwide can contribute their findings about the functioning of human genes.

Dan DiLorenzo (1999), a neurosurgeon and adjunct biomedical engineering professor at Tulane University, has formed NeuroBionics. The Boston startup is developing an implantable self-regulating device DiLorenzo invented to control electrical signals of the nervous system. He says such brain “pacemakers” might one day treat conditions including Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, obesity, and depression.

Last July, Steve Tuecke (2002) of Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois released the Globus Toolkit 3.0 for grid computing. Among its applications, grid computing plays a major role in the $10 billion On Demand business strategy IBM announced in October 2002. On Demand makes it possible for participating companies to tap into a vast network of computing power much the way they use electricity-by plugging in and paying as they go.

Capital Gains

The sensing and controlled-release technology John Santini (2002) is developing for drug delivery won’t be ready for a few more years. However, the $16 million in venture capital he raised during 2002 should smooth the road to development for MicroChips, his Bedford, MA, company. Recent work has been encouraging. Santini reports that chip implants in animals performed well over a seven-week period, and three- to six-month-long tests have been scheduled.

During the first half of 2003, Vivek Subramanian (2002), a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, helped raise $67 million for Matrix Semiconductor, the company he founded in Santa Clara, CA. Subramanian says that within five years he hopes to have produced disposable plastic semiconductors that will store information and use radio frequency technology to communicate with mobile phones or handheld readers. He expects that the semiconductors will cost less than a penny apiece, making them more viable than conventional bar codes.

Last May Helen Greiner (1999), president of iRobot in Burlington, MA, secured a $13 million infusion that will help her company maintain its market position. The funding will support such products as iRobot’s Roomba, a robot vacuum cleaner that sells for $200, and the $50,000 PackBot, a pug-size robot with a surveillance camera. The U.S. Army used PackBots to search buildings during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Armed with $25 million in venture funding raised late last year, Carmichael Roberts (1999), president of Surface Logix in Brighton, MA, used the company’s core chemistry and soft-lithography technologies to develop organic semiconductors that simulate a range of human biological responses to disease more accurately than animal models can. Roberts expects the precise architecture of these microenvironments to help pharmaceutical companies speed drugs to clinical trials.

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