Mariana Bertoni and Jennifer Blain Christen share several accomplishments in common. They both are associate professors in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, one of the six Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. They each are co-founders of technology startups extending from their research at ASU. And now the two are receiving high-profile support from the Fulton Entrepreneurial Professors program as its two newest fellows.
These two-year fellowships provide tenured or tenure-track engineering faculty members with the equivalent of $200,000 in time and resources to accelerate their nascent ventures toward successful commercialization. They do so by reassigning teaching responsibilities and supplying research staff to manage laboratory groups. With freedom from these responsibilities, fellows can apply themselves to pursuing small business training and seed funding, working with patent lawyers, meeting with potential equity investors and consulting with industry advisers.
Bertoni and Blain Christen were among eight engineering faculty finalists who competed for these awards in late 2019. Zachary Holman, associate professor and director of the faculty entrepreneurship program in the Fulton Schools, says they were chosen for three reasons.
“They each are working on technology that already has extensive research and investment behind it. Also, their innovations have substantial practical meaning,” he says. “In other words, the commercialization of their ideas will matter to the world. Finally, they have already taken advantage of the many resources available at ASU to learn about the process of commercializing technology.”