Activate's Cohort 2020 will work alongside Laboratory technical staff to develop advanced electronics.
Fellows managed by Activate will work at the Laboratory for two years to develop new solutions, including fabrication techniques and sensor and chip architectures, for microelectronics. Photo: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Fellows managed by Activate will work at the Laboratory for two years to develop new solutions, including fabrication techniques and sensor and chip architectures, for microelectronics. Photo: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Turning science and engineering innovations into useful products and services that enable a secure, prosperous, and resilient society has never been more important, but it has always depended on visionary leaders.

That is why Lincoln Laboratory is pleased to welcome its first cohort of entrepreneurial research fellows funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and managed by Activate, a nonprofit that works with government, philanthropic, and industry partners to support scientists and engineers as they commercialize hard technology advances.

The fellows will be embedded at Lincoln Laboratory for two intensive years to learn the fundamentals of building a startup while also advancing their research into prototypes and making vital connections to funders and other key partners. Benefits of the fellowship include the chance for fellows to work side by side with Lincoln Laboratory technical staff, leverage the vast resources at the Laboratory, and engage with the MIT innovation ecosystem.

Hosting Activate fellows at Lincoln Laboratory aligns with the Laboratory's commitment to rapidly spinning out new technology to benefit national security. The partnership development with Activate, which has been in the works for more than a year, has been led by the Lincoln Laboratory Technology Ventures Office and Advanced Technology Division.

A team from Lincoln Laboratory and Activate, which included market, finance, and technology experts, evaluated more than 120 different company applications to identify 11 finalists. After evaluating the finalists' oral presentations and proposed project development plans, the team selected five fellows (across four startups) to join Cohort 2020 and embed with the Laboratory.

DARPA's Microsystems Technology Office sponsors the fellows on the basis of their work's potential to create far-reaching improvements in advanced electronics by utilizing Lincoln Laboratory's world-class capabilities in design and fabrication.

Below are the five fellows embedding at Lincoln Laboratory and summaries of their startups.

Daniel Oran

PhD candidate in the Synthetic Neurobiology Group, MIT Media Lab

Irradiant Technologies is harnessing light in a new 3D nanofabrication technique for telecommunications, computation, and sensing products.

Thomas Mahony

PhD, electrical engineering, MIT

Josué López

PhD candidate, electrical engineering, MIT

Kyber Photonics is improving solid-state beam steering and building lidar that will enable the future of autonomous navigation at scale.

López and Mahony's thesis research was aided by Lincoln Laboratory work that provided access to the Laboratory’s silicon integrated photonics fabrication technology and testing facilities.

Suraj Bramhavar

Former Lincoln Laboratory researcher; PhD, electrical engineering, Boston University

Sync Computing is advancing a new computational paradigm and chip architecture for accelerating solutions to important optimization problems.

Bramhavar (and Sync’s co-founder, Jeffrey Chou) germinated this technology while working as Lincoln Laboratory researchers.

Matthew Alpert

PhD, chemical engineering, University of Virginia

Transpectum Technologies' new scintillator can improve the speed and accuracy of safety inspections for dangerous radioactive materials.

The fellows embedding at Lincoln Laboratory are part of a nationwide cohort that includes seven other Boston-based scientists and engineers embedding at other local research institutions, and 14 others at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab)'s Cyclotron Road Division, with which Activate has a longstanding partnership.

"We are so happy to be launching Activate Boston with MIT Lincoln Laboratory as an anchor partner," says Ilan Gur, CEO of Activate. "It is one of our nation's top R&D institutions with a tremendous track record of developing new technology capabilities. Alongside ongoing support from DARPA, this partnership will help us tread a new path for entrepreneurial scientists and engineers to transform their research into products and businesses for society."

Gur, a material scientist, founded two startups before serving as a program director for the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy. Those experiences led him to launch Cyclotron Road at Berkeley Lab in 2015. Cyclotron Road, now a division at Berkeley Lab, pioneered the fellowship model on which Activate Boston is based: helping scientists turn their hard technology research into marketable products through business training, access to research facilities, and mentorship.