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July 31, 2014

U of M helps spawn record number of startup companies

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL — From promoting better driving skills to treating deadly brain tumors, discoveries by University of Minnesota researchers were used to launch a record 12 startup companies in fiscal 2012. This tops the previous record set last fiscal year, when nine startup companies were launched.

“This record number of startups shows that the overhaul of our technology commercialization function that was initiated five years ago is clearly paying off,” said president Eric Kaler. “The diverse range of disciplines represented in these 12 startup companies demonstrates what a valuable resource the University of Minnesota is to businesses in this state, and beyond.”

Since 2006, a total of 38 startup companies have been launched by the university. Of those, 30 are still active — a strong track record that validates the rigorous stage-gate process used by the Office for Technology Commercialization to determine which technologies have the potential to generate viable companies.

“This is extraordinarily good news that further illustrates the momentum we’ve established in our tech transfer operations,” said Tim Mulcahy, vice president for research. “Jay Schrankler and his team did an exceptional job in an economy where launching new companies was challenging, to say the least.”

Below are the names of the companies launched in fiscal 2012, a description of the technology each is commercializing, and the inventor’s name and college:

Argilex Technologies: Membrane technology for separation processes such as those in the petroleum refining, chemicals and biofuels industries (Michael Tsapatsis/College of Science and Engineering)

Ariel Pharmaceuticals: Treatment for prevention of death due to blood loss from trauma (Matthew Andrews/Biology, UMN-Duluth; Lester Drewes and Gregory Beilman/Medical School)

CIPAC: Treatment using live bacterial preparation that could stop infection caused by the bacterium Clostridium difficile (Michael Sadowsky/College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and Alexander Khoruts/Medical School)

cycleWood Solutions: Low-cost biodegradable and compostable bags (Simo Sarkanen/ CSE)

Drive Power: Web- and smartphone-based products that leverage emerging measurement technologies and predictive analytics to enable people to make more informed driving decisions (Max Donath, Craig Shankwitz and Alec Gorjestani/CSE)

Early Learning Labs: Assessments and services to help parents and early child-care providers develop “kindergarten-ready” children (Scott McConnell/College of Education and Human Development)

Epitopoietic Research Corporation: Vaccine that engages the immune system to treat brain tumors (John Ohlfest and Walter Low/Medical School)

Heat Mining Company: Process uses sequestered carbon dioxide to extract geothermal energy from the earth in order to generate electricity (Martin Saar/CSE)

Omicron Health Systems: Technology that helps clinicians monitor patient progress and improve the process of performing clinical research (Kevin Peterson/Medical School)

SMART Signal Technologies: Hardware and software solution that can be used to reduce traffic congestion on major signalized arterial highways (Henry Liu/CSE)

VitalSims: Simulated practice setting that enables the observation, analysis, and improvement of physician decision-making (Paul Johnson/Carlson School and George Biltz/CEHD)

Vytacera Pharma: Antidote for the prevention and treatment of cyanide poisoning (Bob Vince, Steve Patterson and Herb Nagasawa/Center for Drug Design)