Faculty research fuels record 16 startups at U of M

August 24, 2015

The University of Minnesota announced today that it launched a record 16 startup companies over the past year based on discoveries and inventions by its researchers. These companies, which exceed the previous record of 15 companies in fiscal 2014, demonstrate the university’s commitment to bringing cutting-edge research beyond the lab and to the market, where it can benefit society on a larger scale.

The university’s Venture Center, part of its Office for Technology Commercialization, matches intellectual property resulting from university research with experienced CEOs to provide a platform for that research to reach the public. Since forming in 2006, the Venture Center has worked with an extensive network of proven entrepreneurs and investors to launch a total of 84 startup companies.

“The talented faculty at the U of M have a rich history of discovery and invention,” said Brian Herman, Ph.D., the U’s vice president for research. “As our researchers continue to innovate, startups are one way for the university to bring their ideas to the market, translating research into real-world solutions. We are excited to see these inventions contribute to Minnesota’s strength in key industries and, in some cases, create the basis for new ones.”

Of the 12 new companies that are located in Minnesota, 11 are in the Twin Cities metropolitan area and one, Bioactive Regenerative Therapeutics, is in Two Harbors, Minn.

The startups stemmed from the work of faculty inventors like Reuben Harris, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry, molecular biology and biophysics in the College of Biological Sciences, and Daniel Harki, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicinal chemistry in the College of Pharmacy, who developed the technology behind St. Paul-based ApoGen BioTech. The company is developing a new class of pharmaceuticals to detect and block a specific enzyme found in many types of cancers, including breast, lung and head cancers. These drugs will slow the evolution of cancer cells and help prevent drug resistance, making current and future treatments more effective.

Another startup, Minneapolis-based FastBridge Learning, stems from technology developed by Theodore Christ, professor of educational psychology with the U’s College of Education and Human Development. Christ’s Formative Assessment System for Teachers is an online, evidence-based test for screening, diagnosing and monitoring students in reading, mathematics, behavior and developmental milestones. The system informs teachers how to be most effective in their instruction and how to foster greater learning outcomes in their students. The system has been adopted by schools in 30 states and was administered more than 5 million times in the 2014-2015 school year.

With collaborative spaces, cutting-edge lab equipment and dedicated resources to support entrepreneurship and business development, the U of M fosters an environment that encourages the pursuit of knowledge and discovery and provides pathways to bring those discoveries to market.

“Launching a new company is a challenge and takes a lot of hard work and long hours. I congratulate the talented researchers who partnered with outside entrepreneurs to take the risk in bringing these valuable inventions to market,” said Russ Straate, associate director of the Venture Center. “Our team looks forward to continuing to support our researchers in forming startup companies that extend their innovations beyond the lab.”

Creating startup companies is one way the university transfers its intellectual property to the market. The U also licenses technology to existing companies and allows companies to sponsor new research through the Minnesota Innovation Partnerships (MN-IP) program. MN-IP gives companies sponsoring research an exclusive license to the technology that results. The program also allows companies to take university inventions for a “test drive” to gauge their market potential before choosing to license.

The 16 new startup companies include:

  • Adama Materials (Palo Alto, Calif.)
  • Andamio Games (Minneapolis)
  • Andarta Medical (Minneapolis)
  • ApoGen BioTech (St. Paul)
  • Bioactive Regenerative Therapeutics (Two Harbors, Minn.)
  • Blossom Medical (Minneapolis)
  • Carp Solutions (New Brighton, Minn.)
  • Early Movement Monitoring Assessment (EMMA) (Portland, Ore.)
  • FastBridge Learning (Minneapolis)
  • Flora Therapeutics (San Francisco, Calif.)
  • Kuality Herbceutics (North Oaks, Minn.)
  • PSI (San Jose, Calif.)
  • Reflection Sciences (St. Paul)
  • Target Genomics (Columbus, Minn.)
  • Tychon Biosciences (Minneapolis)
  • Vidku (Minneapolis)

For more information on recent U of M startup companies, visit: http://wp.me/p4wAsQ-JR.

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