LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas continues to move innovations from the laboratory to the marketplace. As part of this effort, five KU researchers have been awarded $50,000 each through the university’s new Proof of Concept Fund for projects that are near the commercialization stage.
The Proof of Concept (POC) Fund supports KU projects that have the potential to produce new products, technologies and cures that improve lives in the near future. The POC Fund supports projects for one year to make the technologies more attractive for private investment, ideally within 12 months of being awarded funding. The fund supports all areas of technology, including electronics, software, communications and engineering. Supported projects must have industry involvement.
The five awardees and a summary of their translational research projects are as follows:
- Cory Berkland, Department of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering. The project involves engineering a device to deliver dry powder aerosols to mechanically ventilated patients. Prototypes of the device have so far shown promise in delivering steroids, antifungals and antibiotics through a hospital ventilator.
- Mark Fisher, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. The project seeks to develop new protein-based drugs to address protein-folding diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.
- Teruna Siahaan, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry. The project seeks to develop new drugs for multiple sclerosis.
- Ossama Tawfik, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine. The project seeks to develop a slide and tissue block valet system, which is a fully automated archival system for storage and retrieval of slides containing vital tissue samples in pathology labs.
- Judy Wu, Department of Physics & Astronomy. The project seeks to advance the production of the high-sensitivity miniature detectors and sensors used in solar panels and other optoelectronic applications such as touchscreens, displays and LEDs.
“The Proof of Concept Fund supports KU inventions that are close to attracting industry investment,” said Julie Goonewardene, associate vice chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship and president of the KU Center for Technology Commercialization. “The fund is specifically designed to help high-potential KU technologies further attract industry investors and partners in the immediate future.”
Applicants were required to clearly indicate the economic potential of their technology and identify companies that would be suitable partners to develop a commercial product. Preference was given to applications that have a monetary or in-kind match from industry partners. Proposals were judged by a panel of KUCTC staff and outside consultants.
Entrepreneurship and commercialization are key components of KU's strategic plan, Bold Aspirations. Since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2011, KU has filed 244 patents and created eight startup companies. There are currently 24 active KU startups and 72 active license agreements for the commercial use of KU discoveries.
“Part of KU's mission is to make discoveries that change the world, and that includes working to commercialize those discoveries into real-world solutions," Goonewardene said. “This new POC Fund is the latest example of our efforts to do that.”