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University of Iowa News Release


March 15, 2010

IOWA Centers For Enterprise awards grants for technology commercialization

The University of Iowa Office of the Vice President for Research and the IOWA Centers for Enterprise have announced the award of $300,000 in grant seed funding to UI researchers for projects designed to expand the commercialization of UI technology.

The seed fund program is supported by Iowa Department of Economic Development appropriations to the Iowa Board of Regents under the Grow Iowa Values Fund (GIVF).

The funds will support the development of UI innovations with commercial potential, said Pamela York, executive director of the UI Research Foundation.

"For early-stage technologies and startup companies coming out of universities, there is often a funding gap between research and investment dollars. As a result, few technologies successfully make it out of universities. We're stepping into that gap with this funding, as are other universities in Iowa and around the world, in an effort to increase the number of projects that are commercially viable," York said. "It's critical that we find commercial application for our laboratory discoveries whenever possible."

"We are very pleased with the breadth and quality of the response to this program and are excited about the potential of these projects," said Jordan Cohen, interim vice president for research and economic development at the UI.

The selected projects show a high potential to lead to one or more of the following:

--UI technology resulting in the formation of a new, viable Iowa startup company.
--UI technology licensed to an existing Iowa company.
--Collaborative development projects with Iowa companies that could lead to new products and/or services.

The grant awards went to six investigators, including four in the UI Carver College of Medicine, one with the UI Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing and one in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences:

-- Michael Schultz, assistant professor of radiology, $49,500, for PROSTAVISION, a new diagnostic imaging agent for prostate cancer.
-- Chris Adams, assistant professor of internal medicine, $50,000, for application of a naturally occurring compound as a therapy for skeletal muscle atrophy.
-- Paul McCray, professor of pediatrics, $49,532, for use of an oral compound to enhance host defense against viral respiratory tract infections.
-- Don Anderson, research associate professor of orthopaedics and rehabilitation, $36,064, to establish the potential clinical value of FxRedux software to assist in severe bone fracture reconstruction.
-- Max Baker, associate professor of anesthesia, $35,000, to pursue evaluation and development of a novel anticonvulsant medication.
-- Shuvendu Das, research investigator in the Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing, $27,000 to develop a more cost effective method for production of many bulk and fine chemicals.  
-- John Manak, assistant professor of biology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, $48,949 to develop a novel strategy to identify human disease-causing mutations.

The funding will support several stages of technology development, from initial concept (prior to intellectual property disclosure), to proof of concept, to prototype development. Each project will last approximately six months.

The GIVF Seed Grant is a component of a larger effort to create a robust, continuous system of enhanced commercialization of innovations at the UI. It is the intention of the UI Office of the Vice President for Research and the IOWA Centers for Enterprise to make the seed grant an annual process. In conjunction with a number of other funding mechanisms and events, including elevator pitch, business challenge and business plan competitions, the larger system is beginning to have an impact.

The IOWA Centers for Enterprise integrates existing economic development activities at the UI. The IOWA Centers offers a comprehensive program that promotes economic development and technology transfer, provides assistance to Iowa startups and existing Iowa businesses and communities and helps the state of Iowa develop a creative, entrepreneurial workforce. Also, the IOWA Centers optimizes the flow of university intellectual property into opportunities for licensing, commercialization and business development.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Pam York, UI Research Foundation, 319-335-4311; George McCrory, 319-384-0012,