MIT-Pillar AI Collective has unveiled the recipients of its initial seed grants. The grants have been awarded to six teams dedicated to conducting research in the fields of AI, data science, and machine learning. These projects exhibit promising potential for commercial applications.

 The MIT-Pillar AI Collective has recently announced the recipients of its inaugural grants. These grants will support students, alumni, and postdocs working on various topics within artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and data science. The aim is to fund research projects that have the potential to be transformed into commercially viable products or companies. The grants not only provide financial assistance but also offer support and mentorship to help students explore the commercial applications of their research and ultimately drive the creation of startups.

Dean Anantha Chandrakasan of the School of Engineering at MIT expressed excitement about the diverse range of projects being pursued by these exceptional individuals. He emphasized the potential transformative impact of their research across various industries, envisioning startups that could revolutionize fields like drug delivery and video conferencing.

The MIT-Pillar AI Collective was launched in September 2022 as a pilot program, made possible by a generous $1 million gift from Pillar VC. The program, administered by the MIT Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation, focuses on the market discovery process, helping advance projects through market research, customer discovery, and prototyping. Participants in the program, including graduate students and postdocs, work towards developing minimum viable products.

Jinane Abounadi, the managing director of the MIT-Pillar AI Collective, highlighted the importance of providing not only funding but also mentorship and guidance to recipients. Given the rapid advancements in AI technologies, such support is crucial in enabling students and postdocs to access the necessary resources and navigate the fast-paced environment effectively.

The six grant recipients of the inaugural cohort will receive assistance in setting key milestones and receive advice from experienced entrepreneurs. The AI Collective helps them gather feedback from potential end-users and gain insights from early-stage investors. The program also organizes community events, such as the "Founder Talks" speaker series and team-building activities.

Jamie Goldstein '89, the founder of Pillar VC, commended the entrepreneurial spirit exhibited by the grant recipients. He expressed enthusiasm in providing support and guidance as they embark on a journey that could lead them to become founders and leaders of successful companies.

Here are the six projects and their respective recipients:

Predictive Query Interface: Abdullah Alomar SM '21, a PhD candidate in electrical engineering and computer science, is developing a predictive query interface for time series databases. The interface aims to improve demand and financial data forecasting by addressing data engineering challenges while maintaining state-of-the-art statistical accuracy. Alomar is advised by Professor Devavrat Shah.

Design of Light-Activated Drugs: Simon Axelrod, a PhD candidate in chemical physics at Harvard University, is merging AI with physics simulations to design light-activated drugs. This approach could minimize side effects and enhance the efficacy of treatments. Axelrod's computational models predict properties of photoactive drugs swiftly and accurately, enabling researchers to focus on the most promising candidates. He is advised by Professor Rafael Gomez-Bombarelli.

Low-Cost 3D Perception: Arjun Balasingam, a PhD student in electrical engineering and computer science, is working on MobiSee—a technology that enables real-time 3D reconstruction in dynamic environments. MobiSee utilizes self-supervised AI methods, video, and lidar to deliver cost-effective, high-quality 3D perception on consumer mobile devices. The potential applications include mixed reality, navigation, safety, sports streaming, and immersive experiences. Balasingam is advised by Professor Hari Balakrishnan.

Sleep Therapeutics: Guillermo Bernal SM '14, PhD '23, a recent PhD graduate in media arts and sciences, is developing a sleep therapeutic platform called Fascia. This platform enables sleep specialists and researchers to conduct comprehensive sleep studies remotely while patients remain in the comfort of their homes. Fascia comprises a