Jakuta Seizes An Opportunity Through Space Race

To improve the lives of millions of people with limited access to energy.

November 1, 2016

Team Jakuta is led by MBA students from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and is complemented by materials science and engineering backgrounds from the Illinois Institute of Technology as well as footwear development from blue chip shoe brands such as Nike and Columbia.  


In 2016, I Co-Founded the University of Chicago Booth Space and Aeronautics Club to help the university become a leader in commercializing space-related ventures.  I was fascinated and inspired by the evolving technologies that have enabled us to direct our gaze toward the stars with the purposeful conviction of one day reaching them.  Little had I considered how that same research might enable us to look back toward Earth and apply those technologies to enhance our life here in ways unintended.  The Center for Advancing Innovation’s Space Race inspired a few of us to do just that.


The intricacies of commercializing any NASA technology are many and complex.  However challenging navigating this ecosystem was, the Center for Advancing Innovation made it significantly easier by hosting industry leaders to lend their expertise in a broad range of fields.


After evaluating a select portfolio of NASA patents, we saw an opportunity to improve the lives of millions of people with limited access to energy.  Originally intended to generate energy from wind in outer space, NASA’s patented piezoelectric material was eventually shelved due to the large number of vacuums in outer space in which no wind blows.  Team Jakuta was formed with the goal of incorporating this piezoelectric material into shoes in which constant compressions generate energy that can be harnessed, stored and used to power critical devices such as lights and cell phones.


NASA research has begotten fantastic technology that has pushed forward the welfare of everyone.  Such research has given us LEDs, artificial limbs, chemical detection, land mine removal, fire resistant reinforcement, enriched baby food, water purification, food safety systems and much more.  With Team Jakuta’s continued diligence to build upon this research, we hope to be added to this list of innovations that ended in a different place than even the author intended.


-Peter North

Founder and Chief Optimist of Jakuta