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The U Spins Off Another 23 Companies in 2008

July 17, 2008 — The 2008 fiscal year-end results for the generation of new businesses prove what many economists have long claimed, that the University of Utah is an economic engine for the State of Utah. Twenty-three companies were launched from technologies developed at the University within the last year. The companies not only help move research forward through the licensing royalty revenue they bring in, but they provide jobs for the people of Utah and help to strengthen the economy in the state.

“The business of capturing and capitalizing on technologies from U.S. research universities has become a massive industry with states spending billions of dollars on accelerating these efforts,” said Brian Cummings, assistant vice president in charge of the Technology Commercialization Office (TCO).  “The fact that the U of U has produced some of the highest metrics in the country is a great credit to the team at the TCO and their ability to engage both the business and financial communities throughout the State.”

One of this year’s start-up companies, Akadi, was developed by the IT group at the S.J. Quinney College of Law. Akadi offers the latest in digital signage technology.  Its core product enables customers to generate advertising revenue and increase sales through a user-friendly signage system. It also includes an alert feature that can push out emergency alerts to every display. This type of technology has been long awaited by colleges, hospitals, and other large institutions to help them improve security systems and get a little extra revenue from advertisers. The product is already in use in several locations.

Catheter Connections, another university start-up, has a very different story. The technology was originally developed by two nurses, Jim Mercer and Michael Howelett from the V.A. Hospital. As nurses there, they had a first-hand understanding of the risks of infections from catheters and related vascular access systems and this led them to invent DualCapTM, an innovative device designed to significantly reduce healthcare acquired infections (HAIs).  They approached the University of Utah, and Dr. Hitchcock of the University evaluated the technology. Excited to utilize the resources available to university inventors, Mercer and Howelett donated their intellectual property to the University of Utah, and Catheter Connections was formed. Since the new company is licensing the DualCapTM technology from the U of U, it has been able to utilize the University’s small business start-up resources. These resources include individuals and groups that can assist with grant applications, preliminary research, business plan development, fund raising, graphic design, and a large network of business, scientific and engineering resources.

“This illustrates in yet another way the economic value of the University of Utah to this great state,” said University of Utah President Michael K. Young.  “Our researchers understand the value of commercialization and the way it propels their great ideas, inventions, and medical protocols into the lives of real people. The University is thrilled to be able to provide the logistical assistance and impetus to make this happen in such a dramatic way.”

The University of Utah’s Start-Up Companies

  • Advanced Signal Detections is developing algorithms for various modes of secure wireless communication such as jam-resistant communications.
  • Akadi Technologies LLC is commercializing a web-based display and digital signage technology.
  • Allegro Diagnostics is a leader in the field of gene expression molecular diagnostic testing for lung cancer and other diseases.
  • Baby Jock Company is focusing on the marketing of children’s exercise videos and merchandise utilizing the services of Angry Duck Productions.
  • BioEnergenix is developing novel therapeutic strategies for obesity, diabetes and other metabolic diseases.
  • Catheter Connections has a technology designed to significantly reduce healthcare acquired infections from catheters and related vascular access systems.
  • Celux Technologies is based on a platform technology that has the potential to develop a broad array of new products in biosensors, biocompatible materials, bioseparations, medical devices, and pharmaceuticals.
  • Epitel Inc. has developed a telemetry device to wirelessly detect, monitor, and analyze brainwaves for epilepsy and sleep disorders.
  • GeoMind LLC has developed novel algorithms to visualize geological formations.
  • GlycoMyra Pharmaceutical is focused on treatments for skin ailments such as Rosacea and Psoriasis. They are also looking into the possibility of developing a biologically based line of anti-aging cosmetics.
  • Heavy Stone Labs is manufacturing and selling a new composite drill cutter design that has superior chipping resistance compared to conventional shear cutter designs.
  • I2S is streamlining the processing, managing, and assessment of federal grants for international companies. The company is already managing a large DARPA grant for the benefit of the Fraunhofer Institute.
  • Nanonc Inc. is developing a novel drug delivery system to better package therapeutics using nano-sized bubbles. These drug containing nanobubbles can then be injected intravenously whereupon they accumulate in cancerous tissues and can be activated and destroyed using ultrasound.
  • Nano-Oxides is focusing on the scale-up and production of nano-sized ceramic oxide powders for a broad range of applications including the development of new fuel cells and energy catalysts.
  • PFO Technologies LLC is combining a patented medical device to close Patent Foreman Ovales (a hole in a baby’s heart), one of the most prevalent abnormalities that exist in humans.
  • Philotek LLC is developingmicro-arraytechnology to improve the sensitivity of detection of specificDNAfragments, e.g. expression of specific genes. Their micro-array chips can be usedin existing products sold by all major companies.
  • Riggalya is developing a novel drug delivery system to better package therapeutics using nano-sized bubbles. These drug containing nanobubbles can then be injected intravenously whereupon they accumulate in cancerous tissues and can be activated and destroyed using ultrasound.
  • RU Ready was developed by the University of Utah’s Continuing Educational personnel. It is a college readiness learning and self-assessment program to help increase students’ chances for college success.
  • Surfagen Inc. has recently designed and developed a class of novel multifunctional carriers that have the ability to form stable nanoparticulate complexes that efficiently release siRNA.
  • Trapeze Media Solutions has developed a novel piece of software to capture and preserve scientific posters. The software creates a single interactive file to which media and other interactive files can prosper.
  • ViroPan is developing a proprietary, intra-vaginal delivery method for prevention of human papillomavirus and other viral sexually transmitted diseases.
  • VisTrails LLC has developed a new scientific workflow management system that streamlines the creation, execution and sharing of complex visualizations, data mining, or other large-scale data analysis applications.
  • Wasatch Nanopore Sensors LLC manufactures devices, which can be used to measure very small particles (about 50nm in size), organic and inorganic molecules, and potentially sequence nucleic acids (e.g. DNA).