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U of M Launches Record Number of Startups in Fiscal 2013


A natural anti-inflammatory compound, a smartphone-based breathalyzer and a plastic bead that cuts off the blood supply to cancerous tumors are just three promising University of Minnesota technologies that were used to launch a record 14 startup companies in fiscal year 2013. Last year, 12 startup companies were launched, breaking the previous year’s record of nine.

In a climate of decreasing federal support for scientific research and increasing competition for research grants, the university is working hard to ensure that its discoveries enter the marketplace where they can have the most impact.

“At its core, this is about fulfilling our mission to pursue new knowledge that advances human health and our economy,” said University President Eric Kaler. “We are committed to partnering with industry to foster an eco-system of innovation and entrepreneurship in Minnesota. As a result, these startups will move U research onto the marketplace and for the common good.”

Since the Office for Technology Commercialization’s Venture Center was formed in 2006, a total of 52 startup companies have been created. Of that number, 41, or nearly 80 percent, of the companies are still active—a very high success rate considering a 2012 study by Harvard Business School’s Shikhar Ghosh showing that 75 percent of all startups fail.

Based on current activity in the Venture Center, the pace of startup creation will not be letting up anytime soon. Another five startups are already in the negotiation stage and are on track to launch in the first few months of fiscal year 2014. An additional 19 technologies are in various stages of the startup pipeline.

“Our continued success as a research institution depends upon our ability to transfer knowledge created at the university into the real world where it can have a direct impact on our society,” said Brian Herman, vice president for research. “ Jay Schrankler and his team at the Venture Center are doing a remarkable job of accelerating technology commercialization at the U in a very challenging economic climate.”

Fiscal Year 2013 Startups

Below are the names of the startup companies launched, a short description of the licensed technology and the inventor’s name and college:

The Actives Factory: Natural anti-inflammatory compound for the cosmetics, dietary supplements and pharmaceuticals industries. (Pavel Krasutsky/Natural Resources Research Institute)

Andas: Technology that communicates an accurate level of intoxication via breath analysis through smart phones. (Steven Koester/Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Science and Engineering)

Applied Informatic Solutions: Informatics tools to assist with the identification of high-value biomarkers. (Jason Nikas and Walter Low/Neurosurgery, Medical School)

Ascenix Biotechnologies: Process to take sugar-based feedstocks and produce synthetic chemicals for multiple uses, including production of high-value plastics. (Kechun Zhang/Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, College of Science and Engineering)

EmboMedics: Natural resorbable polymer bead used to cut off the blood supply to tumor/cancer cells in the body. (Jafar Golzarian/Radiology, Medical School)

Evidentia Health: Mayo Clinic and University of Minnesota-based health care IT company that provides evidence-based clinical decision support tools for radiologists at the point of care. (Dan Steinberger/Radiology, Medical School)

FocusStart: Handheld probe that can measure tension in soft tissues, such as tendons and ligaments, during invasive orthopedic surgery. (Rajash Rajamani/Mechanical Engineering, College of Science and Engineering)

Gy Biomedical: Non-invasive, cost-effective diagnostic and monitoring test for an inflammatory disease of the esophagus. (Glenn Gourley/Pediatric Gastroenterology, Medical School)

ID Genomics: Rapid assessment of virulent bacteria for potential organ failure in urgent care settings. (James Johnson/Infectious Diseases, Medical School)

MEDules: Surgical training platforms that provide quantifiable feedback for medical students and practicing physicians. (2013 Mechanical Design Class/College of Science and Engineering)

Novamela: Consortium of apple companies in Italy who cultivate and sell promising new apple varieties including SweeTango©. (James Luby and David Bedford/Horticultural Science, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences)

ReMinD Technologies: Development, manufacturing and marketing of consumer technologies that help patients and caregivers ensure medication adherence. (2012 Medical Device Fellows/Medical Devices Center/College of Science and Engineering, Academic Health Center)

Universal Magnetic Systems: High moment magnetic nanoparticles for disease detection and diagnostic target separation. (Jian Ping Wang/Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Science and Engineering)

Veterinary Diagnostics and Therapeutics: Genetic test that assesses risk for rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament in dogs. (Michael Conzemius/College of Veterinary Medicine)

Originally published on Business @ the U of M.

Erin Dennis

Erin Dennis

Erin is assistant communications director for the Office of the Vice President for Research and senior editor of Inquiry.

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