UMN Tech Comm & Startup Claros Technologies Win 2020 Tekne Awards

University of Minnesota Technology Commercialization and UMN startup Claros Technologies were among the winners at the 23rd annual Tekne Awards on Wednesday.

The Tekne Awards, hosted by the Minnesota Technology Association, highlight the many people and companies driving technology innovation in Minnesota—and how those technologies are impacting our community and the world. New this year to the awards ceremony was the special “COVID-19 Community Response” category, which recognized innovators that rose to the challenge of developing solutions to help minimize the coronavirus’s impact on public health and its disruptions to our economy.

“The Tekne Awards honor the innovators and tech leaders powering Minnesota’s growing science and technology economy,” said Jeff Tollefson, president and CEO of the Minnesota Technology Association, in a news release. “This year we were especially excited to honor organizations that showed swift and innovative responses to the COVID-19 crisis.”

UMN Technology Commercialization was chosen as one of three winners in this category for its role in facilitating many of the innovations that made up Minnesota’s quick and authoritative response to the coronavirus pandemic. As COVID-19’s arrival galvanized UMN researchers to combine their ingenuity and make discoveries that could help society during a trying time, Tech Comm quickly adapted its work to ensure these discoveries could reach those they were designed to help.

Tech Comm staff reprioritized new additions to its technology portfolio to ensure the innovations with potential to prevent, diagnose, treat, and contain COVID-19 received immediate attention. The office also redesigned its licensing practices for these technologies to promote faster collaboration between University experts and industry leaders, which in turn helped move new technologies beyond the lab and into society as quickly as possible. Many new COVID-related technologies are now available for licensing.

In addition to the award Tech Comm received, UMN startup Claros Technologies won a Tekne Award in the “Sustainable Resources” category. Claros is an advanced materials company based in part on discoveries from the UMN College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences. The company strives to lead the industry in a holistic approach in material design and innovation to develop more efficient, safe, and sustainable products with zero toxic waste.

Using its proprietary technology platform, Claros can directly grow small, reactive nanoparticles within support structures. The resulting materials capture and detoxify harmful contaminants like mercury, phosphorus, and other heavy metals while allowing for reuse and recovery of valuable nutrients, rare earth metals, and precious metals. The materials can be used in a variety of industries, including industrial water treatment, watershed management, and air pollution control.

See a full list of this year’s Tekne Award winners or watch a recording of the virtual award ceremony: