Entrepreneurial engineer receives national honor


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A University of Louisville engineering researcher has been selected to take part in a new national program created to nurture technical entrepreneurs.

    Mehdi Yazdanpanah is one of only 13 scientific researchers in the country selected by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to be a 2009-10 fellow. The program uses mentors and entrepreneurship education to help researchers commercialize their scientific discoveries.

    A 2006 J.B. Speed School of Engineering doctoral graduate in electrical engineering, Yazdanpanah is president and chief executive officer of the nanomaterials company NaugaNeedles LLC. He was chosen from 115 applicants.

    “He is in elite company among the awardees, and we are proud of his accomplishments in taking NaugaNeedles from the lab to the marketplace,” Speed dean Mickey Wilhelm said.

    The scientist begins his fellowship with an October workshop at the foundation’s headquarters in Kansas City, Mo. There, the program will match him an academic adviser and an experienced investor or corporate leader who will serve as his business mentor.

    Yazdanpanah established NaugaNeedles in 2007 as an outgrowth of his research at UofL.

    Last spring, he won the Vogt Invention and Innovation Award, a program of The Enterprise Corp. of Greater Louisville Inc. and Community Foundation of Louisville. The program recognizes excellence in product innovation and provides money to help engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs develop their products and commercialize their ideas.

    He used the funds to establish a Louisville manufacturing facility, pay for an exclusive license from UofL and begin to market his product.

    The nanofabrication method to grow microscopic nanowires now trademarked as NeedleProbes can be applied to making advanced tools, sensors and instruments in biomedical research and other fields, Yazdanpanah said.

    For more information, contact him at 502-852-1551 or m.yazdanpanah@louisville.edu or visit www.kauffman.org

    Judy Hughes
    Judy Hughes is a senior communications and marketing coordinator for UofL’s Office of Communications and Marketing and associate editor of UofL Magazine. She previously worked in news as a writer and editor for a daily newspaper and The Associated Press.