Two University of Minnesota startups named among “Best University Startups"

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Two University of Minnesota startups were named among the “Best University Startups 2016” today by the National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer (NCET2), an association of university startup officers.

Innotronics LLC and Minnepura Technologies Inc., two companies launched by the University’s Venture Center, were among the 35 Best University Startups selected from 200 submissions from universities across the U.S. The startups were selected by representatives from leading industry companies based on criteria including the technology’s potential, the experience of the business team and the invention or service’s commercial feasibility. The 35 startups represent early-stage companies with high potential to create jobs, advance technology and meet societal challenges in health, the environment and other fields. These companies will present as part of University Startups Demo Day at Congress in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 20.

“We are proud to see Innotronics and Minnepura acknowledged as high-potential startup companies that are bringing innovations from the lab to the marketplace,” said Russ Straate, associate director of the U’s Venture Center. “The recognition of these companies in NCET2’s program is a testament to the cutting-edge of work of our researchers, the business expertise of our entrepreneurial partners and the strength of our startup enterprise.”

Innotronics LLC, based in Stillwater, Minn., develops non-contacting position sensors for use in construction and agriculture vehicles, as well as in industrial material handling systems. Sensors can play an important role guiding hydraulic and pneumatic actuators, pumps and other moving parts on these machines, but many existing sensors require significant effort to install. Innotronics’ magnetic sensors are non-contacting, non-intrusive and can be easily installed at a significantly lower cost.

Innotronics, led by CEO Michael Gust and Principal Engineer Ryan Madson, is based on scientific discoveries by Rajesh Rajamani, Ph.D., professor of mechanical engineering with the College of Science and Engineering, who is also chief scientific officer with the company.

Minnepura Technologies Inc., based in St. Paul, Minn., has commercialized a low-cost, bacteria-based biotechnology that naturally breaks down dangerous chemicals in water from sources such as industrial waste and agricultural runoff. The company identifies the type of bacteria best suited for removing specific industrial and municipal water purification needs, and then designs silica beads with the right type of bacteria inside to break down those contaminants into harmless, environmentally friendly byproducts.

Minnepura, led by President and CEO Paul Hansen, is based on scientific discoveries by two researchers with the College of Science and Engineering and BioTechnology Institute who are also technical advisers with the company: Alptekin Aksan, Ph.D., associate professor of mechanical engineering, and Larry Wackett, Ph.D., Distinguished McKnight University Professor of biochemistry, molecular biology and biophysics.

University Startups Demo Day will demonstrate the key role of university startup enterprises in commercializing technologies that can address societal challenges and bolster national competitiveness and economic prosperity. The event aims to raise awareness in Congress of the ongoing transformation at universities across the country as they work to build and enhance campus-wide innovation ecosystems.

“To lead the world in the 21st century, our nation must have a sustained commitment to education, scientific research and startups,” said Tony Stanco, NCET2’s executive director. “American universities are uniquely positioned to deliver on all three to ensure the U.S. continues to lead socially and economically in this century, as it did in the last.”

For more information about the University Startups Demo Day, visit:

For more information on the U of M Venture Center, visit:

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