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Four men in suits standing in front of a Tekne Awards red carpet picture spot
The Venture Center’s Russ Straate (left) with Vincent Truong (3rd from left), and Patrick Walsh (right) from Anatomi, a winner of the Launch Minnesota Innovation Award, seen at the 2019 Tekne Awards on Nov. 21, 2019. Also pictured is Siba Das of Novoclade (2nd from left). Photo: Mary MacCarthy

 
Seven University of Minnesota startup companies were today awarded Launch Minnesota Innovation Grants by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Developments (DEED). DEED staff targets these new grants, 20 of which were announced today, at “the most promising, innovative, and scalable technology businesses in the state” based on the recommendations of an advisory board to Launch Minnesota, a statewide collaborative effort to accelerate the growth of startups and amplify Minnesota as a national leader in innovation.

“These grants went to startups that reflect the strength and diversity of research ideas coming out of the U of M,” said Russ Straate, who runs the Venture Center as part of University of Minnesota Technology Commercialization. “From mapping crop and fruit yields in fields and orchards with robotics to geothermal power systems that can store significant amounts of greenhouse gases to non-invasive concussion therapy, we are proud to see these startups thriving and getting wider attention.”

Three of the awardee companies have graduated from the Venture Center’s Discovery Launchpad incubator, a formalized program for coaching University researchers interested in starting a company, and a fourth, GRIP Molecular Technologies, is currently in the program.

University of Minnesota Vice President for Research Christopher J. Cramer noted that “Innovation starts with the creativity and drive of our faculty, staff, and students, but we also benefit from an experienced group of technology transfer professionals who do the hard work of identifying potential markets and deciding on best routes to bring technologies to those markets.

“In these DEED decisions, you see a strong validation of the careful work we do to evaluate technologies and to help these new companies not only to launch, but moreover to do so with all the tools, expertise, connections, and management know-how that companies will need to become successful.”

The University’s Venture Center has helped found 162 companies to date based on University ideas or using University technology, three-quarters of them based in Minnesota and more than 78 percent still in operation.

The UMN startup companies receiving Launch Minnesota Innovation grants today were:

Anatomi Corp, Minneapolis *
$31,500 business operations grant
A life science research tools company that manufactures advanced models of human neurological disease useful for the development of new treatments for conditions such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and chronic pain.

Aurora Concussion Therapy, St. Paul *
$28,000 business operations grant
Medical device company focused on commercializing a non-invasive concussion therapy.

Darcy Solutions, Minneapolis *
$31,500 business operations grant
$15,000 housing-childcare grant for two entrepreneurs
Provide most energy- and cost-efficient way to provide heating and cooling while also significantly reducing carbon emissions.

Farm Vision Technologies, St. Paul
$37,154 SBIR Phase II grant
Automation of yield mapping to improve harvesting processes.

General Probiotics, St. Paul
$28,000 business operations grant
Develops innovative cellbots, antimicrobial probiotics that eliminate harmful pathogens in livestock, enable the production of safe food, and reduce dependency on antibiotics.

GRIP Molecular Technologies, St. Paul *
$28,000 business operations grant
$7,500 housing-childcare grant for entrepreneur
Molecular detection device used at point-of-care to enable the rapid identification of chemical and biological threats.

TerraCOH, Minneapolis
$44,965 SBIR Phase II grant
Engineering analysis and design of CO2 geothermal power system to provide dispatchable geothermal electricity generation and grid-scale energy storage.

*indicates Discovery Launchpad participant