Faculty research fuels record 15 startups in FY14

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University discoveries often hold a lot of potential for improving people’s lives, but they aren’t ready to sell when they leave the lab. The University of Minnesota’s Office for Technology Commercialization helps bridge that gap.

OTC forms startup companies around U inventions, partnering faculty with industry professionals who have the expertise needed to turn a breakthrough into a commercially available product. In fiscal 2014, OTC’s Venture Center launched a record 15 startup companies, topping the previous record of 14 companies in 2013. Since forming OTC in 2006, the university has launched a total of 67 startup companies. (See this infographic for more information on U of M startups and their impact.)

Dr. Brian Herman, the U’s vice president for research, said the university’s talented faculty make discoveries that let people lead safer, happier, healthier lives.

“I am excited to see university research translate into solutions to real-world problems, be it testing a patient for malaria, purifying unsafe water or creating sustainable agricultural solutions,” Herman said. “Bringing these ideas to market advances Minnesota’s economy and its ecosystem of entrepreneurship by creating the basis for new industries and strengthening its competitiveness in existing ones.”

The Venture Center taps an extensive network of proven entrepreneurs, inventors and venture capitalists to match the U’s intellectual property with experienced CEOs. Startup companies provide another way, in addition to licensing technology or sponsoring research, for the U’s intellectual property to reach the public, where it can benefit the most people.

“Universities are not fixated on the bottom line, but driven by a larger purpose to find solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges,” said Russ Straate, the Venture Center’s associate director. “The 15 startup companies recently launched, in fields ranging from medical science to agriculture to the environment, will each help get these solutions out the door by turning research into a relevant and useful product.”

The new startup companies

ADC BioMed Corporation:  Diagnostics and therapeutics to prevent and treat cancer, autoimmune diseases and infectious diseases, including a new test to show which leukemia patients may be at risk for developing resistance to treatment drugs.
Faculty: Wei Chen, Medical School.

Bennett Autogas Systems: Lower cost fuel tank requiring less maintenance for liquid petroleum fueled vehicles.
Student: David Bennett, College of Science and Engineering.

CURx Pharmaceuticals: Intravenous and intramuscular injection treatments for seizures in hospitalized epilepsy patients that can replace oral medications.
Faculty: James Cloyd, College of Pharmacy.

CVC Heartsavers: Diagnostic tool that provides earlier intervention and treatment for cardiovascular disease.
Faculty: Jay Cohn, Medical School.

Efficient Windows Collaborative: Nonprofit company that provides unbiased online information on the benefits of energy-efficient windows, descriptions of how they work and recommendations for their selection and use.
Faculty: Kerry Haglund and John Carmody, Center for Sustainable Building Research.

InformeDesign: Searchable database giving interior designers, architects and urban planners access to current, research-based information to help in design-related decision-making.
Faculty: Caren Martin, College of Design; Denise Guerin, College of Design.

Meso-Flow: A disposable device for cleaning and storing blood cells used in transplants and other medical procedures.
Faculty: Allison Hubel, College of Science and Engineering.

Minnepura: Encapsulation of biomaterial that provides an effective, low cost treatment solution for removing hydrocarbons and chemicals from water.
Faculty: Al Aksan, College of Science and Engineering; Larry Wackett, College of Biological Sciences; and Michael Sadowsky, College of Biological Sciences.

MinnScan: Advanced imaging system for using MRI in dental applications.
Faculty: Michael Garwood, Center for Magnetic Resonance Research; Donald Nixdorf, School of Dentistry.

NH3 Strategies: Process for producing ammonia fertilizer with water and air that can be implemented close to farmers to provide easier access and cut transportation costs.
Faculty: Roger Ruan, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.

Niron Magnetics: New process for fabricating permanent magnets, eliminating the need for expensive rare earth elements in the construction of wind turbines, motors and generators.
Faculty: Jian-Ping Wang, College of Science and Engineering.

Surgical Information Sciences: Brain maps for accurately targeting deep brain stimulation used to treat patients with Parkinson’s disease.
Faculty: Noam Harel, Center for Magnetic Resonance Research; Guillermo Sapiro, College of Science and Engineering (formerly, now at Duke).

Treatment Global: Multi-disciplinary telehealth approach that provides chronic disease and health and wellness management without the need for clinic visits.
Faculty: Kevin Peterson, U of M Physicians.

Vigilant Diagnostics: Lateral flow diagnostic system that measures for traces of malaria and strep throat with 10 to 100 times the sensitivity of standard systems.
Faculty: John Bischof, College of Science and Engineering.

Zepto Life Technology: Highly sensitive early disease detection in animals and humans for central lab, clinic and point-of-care applications.
Faculty: Jian-Ping Wang, College of Science and Engineering.

See the press release or visit the startups page for more information on U of M startups.