Ventures @ CICS

Translating new computer & information science
knowledge into new ventures

Ventures @ CICS provides information, advice, and support to anyone in the College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS) community interested in exploring the commercial value of new technologies emerging from our research labs and class projects. The program is aimed at early stage concept development -- helping scientists and engineers move ideas from proof-of-concept towards marketable products with societal benefit.

At the heart of the Ventures @ CICS initiative is our Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) Program. EIRs are volunteers from the private sector -- each one brings expertise in multiple areas of computer & information science, a track record of business-development success, a passion for commercialization, and a commitment to UMass Amherst and CICS.

Request an appointment today!

Entrepreneurs in Residence

Gavin Andresen
Former Chief Scientist, BitCoin Foundation

Areas of focus: cryptocurrency; blockchain; 3D graphics; societal impacts of computing
 

Biography

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Gavin Andresen is an entrepreneur and software developer. He was the lead developer for the Bitcoin project from 2011 through 2015, and was the Chief Scientist at the Bitcoin Foundation until 2017.

Before his interest in cryptocurrency, Gavin was part of a wide variety of software-related ventures, including a company that made multiplayer online games for blind people and their sighted friends, an early VOIP (voice over internet) company, and Andrew McCallum's research group. Gavin began his career at Silicon Graphics Computer Systems, one of the first 3D graphics hardware companies.

Gavin holds a BS in computer science from Princeton University.

LinkedIn profile

Jim Flynn 
President, Overlook TV

Areas of focus: software development; fintech; digital media; sales and marketing 

 

Biography

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Jim Flynn is a serial entrepreneur and senior technology executive who has founded, led, and built world-class technology businesses. He most recently founded Overlook TV, a Northampton, MA-based company that creates specialized Internet TV channels.

Prior to Overlook, Jim co-founded and led EZTakes, one of the first movie download companies. Under Jim's leadership, EZTakes achieved profitability, recruited over 100 film distribution companies as content partners, licensed over 8,000 feature films and TV shows, and closed a multi-million dollar round of outside funding. 

In 1996, Jim co-founded @Work Technologies, a leading global provider of Internet billing and payment software used by numerous billion-dollar organizations to deliver electronic bills and receive payments over the Internet. Jim sold @Work to Alysis (NASDAQ: ALYS). He served as the company's Chief Operating Officer before selling Alysis to Pitney Bowes. Earlier in his career, Jim started and built several other highly-successful technology companies in industries as diverse as document management and international banking. Jim began his career as a software engineer at AT&T.

Jim earned an MBA from New York University and a BS with magna cum laude honors from Manhattan College.

LinkedIn profile  | blog  | @jamespflynn

Vikram Mahidhar
Senior Vice-President, Rage Frameworks

Areas of focus: artificial intelligence; machine learning; business strategy and development 

Biography

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Vikram Mahidhar is an entrepreneur, strategy advisor, and innovator. He is currently Head of AI business at Genpact (NYSE:G). Prior to that Vikram built AI business at RAGE Frameworks (acquired by Genpact), a leader in knowledge-based automation technology and services. He is passionate about solving big business transformation problems using cognitive technologies, linguistics, big data, machine learning, analytics, and automation. 

Prior to RAGE, Vikram served as the Managing Director of Innovation at Deloitte where he focused on identifying emerging business ideas, and on driving the development and commercialization of new products and services. At Deloitte, Vikram directed development of new products and services involving big data, semantic intelligence, analytics, and mobile. He has advised C-level executives at Fortune 500 companies in the areas of growth strategy, emerging technology strategy, enterprise risk, and supply chain.

Vikram holds an SM in systems design from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from Boston University's Questrom School of Business.

 

LinkedIn profile

Esha Sahai (BS '02, MS '04)
Venture Partner, Varidus

Areas of focus: fundraising, corporate strategy, artificial intelligence & machine learning, blockchain, enterprise applications

Biography

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Esha Sahai is a Venture Partner at Varidus and a Venture Fellow at Alumni Ventures Group, where she supports investments in high potential startups. Until recently, she was a member of Microsoft's Corporate Strategy and Development team for the Cloud & Enterprise and AI divisions focusing on inorganic growth.

Previously, Esha served as a Legatum Fellow at MIT, where she worked on multiple for-profit and non-profit ventures. Her mobile startup, Curious Learning, was a semi-finalist in MassChallenge & MIT's 100K. Past stints include Oracle Corp., edX, LearnLaunch Accelerator, and a Techstars startup. She has served on the boards for Girls Inc., Circle of Women, UMass Amherst's Maroon Ventures Fund, and GetMAGIC.

Esha was a Bay State Fellow at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees in computer science in 2002 and 2004, respectively. She received a degree in management and engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2015.

Supporting Innovation & Impact

Ventures @ CICS EIRs serve as non-judgmental sources of ideas, advice, inspiration, and helpful connections for potential CICS inventors. They are neither investors nor critics. Rather, they apply their expertise and experience to help advice-seekers sharpen their thinking and decide whether and how to move forward towards a commercial venture.

EIRs are familiar with the broader "innovation ecosystem" that spans the UMass Amherst campus and includes accelerators, incubators, and related entrepreneurship services in the Pioneer Valley and beyond. Learn more about the resources available for inventors.

Pioneer Valley Innovation Ecosystem

Resources to help UMass Amherst scientists and engineers bring their ideas from the lab to the marketplace.

UMass Amherst Resources

Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship

Institute for Applied Life Sciences

Institute for Applied Life Sciences Seed Grand Fund

Maroon Venture Partners Fund

Technology Transfer Office

Pioneer Valley Resources

Valley Venture Mentors

 

CICS seeks to ensure that our research will benefit the Commonwealth and the world at large. The EIR program provides support and expertise to translate our ideas into the marketplace and to cultivate our venturesome spirit.


Laura Haas, CICS Dean