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State-Based Kickstart Award to Support Refinement of Patented Protoconch™ Adaptor


Britt Taylor, the son of Michigan College of Optometry Dean Dr. Daniel Taylor, models the Protoconch adaptor, a project more than four years in the making on the Ferris State University campus. A $48,520 Kickstart Award sourced by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation will assist in updating the beta design of the apparatus, so it can be examined and considered by eyewear companies for commercial development and distribution.

The development of an adaptor placed in eyewear to support cochlear implant technology will continue at Ferris State University supported by the Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) Innovation Hub. An approved $48,520 Kickstart Award from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) will assist the Protoconch™ project, led by Michigan College of Optometry Dean Dr. Daniel Taylor, which received a U.S. patent earlier in 2023.

Taylor said the MEDC provided a 2020 Early Phase Proof of Concept grant, which allowed for the development of the prototype.

“This latest grant allows us to update the device beyond beta stage, so that it can be offered to those capable of producing and commercializing the apparatus,” Taylor said. “Our grant timeline begins on Saturday, July 1, so we have a year to take up this work, get our design in hand and make it available to those interested in developing the project.”

Taylor’s first strides in creating the Protoconch started during the Fall 2018 semester, with Product Design Engineering Technology alumna and co-inventor Jaclyn Vander Ploeg providing formative assistance for her senior project. Taylor said this latest step in product development is a welcome and significant point of progress.

“It has been a long journey. We were forced to pause for over a year, a concession made to the pandemic,” Taylor said. “I am very happy to move even closer to helping people where our device is available in the marketplace. That has always been my goal for this project.”

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Bobby Fleischman said this, and other Michigan College of Optometry research contributions, are just one face of the technology transfer efforts undertaken on campus since 2016.

“Dr. Taylor’s project is a great example of research being done and continuing at Ferris, which brings recognition to the university, as it addresses the needs of those with cochlear challenges, who also require visual support,” Fleischman said. “The interdisciplinary, cutting-edge thinking and activity in our laboratories show Ferris’ prowess as a research institution while creating a variety of societal benefits. This is consistent with the university’s mission, vision and values and exemplifies our dedication to serve these communities.”

Click on Michigan College of Optometry for more information about the college and its programs.