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TechAccel Makes Further Pledge to the UC Davis Venture Catalyst STAIR Grant Program to Promote Agriculture

UC Davis Venture Catalyst has entered into an expanded agreement with Technology Acceleration Partners (TechAccel, LLC) in support of the Science Translation and Innovative Research (STAIR™) Grant program which provides funding for proof-of-concept research aimed at demonstrating commercial feasibility of university-generated technologies.

TechAccel will commit $50,000 in grant funding to an expansion of the Venture Catalyst STAIR grants, which are in their fifth year of enabling the commercial translation of UC Davis research and technologies through proof-of-concept funding.

This promise of additional funding is intended to elicit more agricultural-focused technologies.  TechAccel’s additional funding will support a sixth STAIR grant this year to focus exclusively on a technology in plant or animal agriculture, animal health, animal nutrition, or technologies to reduce post-harvest food waste and increase food safety. If successful, this expanded program may be repeated.

Applications for program funding are now available to UC Davis researchers. The deadline is March 12, 2018.

“We are proud to collaborate with the world-class talent at UC Davis,” said Michael Helmstetter, Ph.D., President and CEO of TechAccel. “Together, we see opportunities to make a greener, healthier future by helping advance agriculture, animal health, and food safety technologies to market.”

Dushyant Pathak, associate vice chancellor for Research and executive director of Venture Catalyst at UC Davis, agreed.

“We’re thrilled with this generous enhancement to our existing collaboration with TechAccel which has already provided support for novel translational research at the university,” he said. “TechAccel’s unique focus and its combination of business and technical expertise provide the perfect complement to our strengths at UC Davis in technology development and product innovation for societal impact.”

TechAccel is a technology and venture development organization focused in agriculture, animal health and food technology. The company invests in innovative technology and funds science advancement programs to accelerate readiness for commercialization.

TechAccel began its collaboration with UC-Davis in 2016 with participation in the UC-Davis Venture Catalyst STAIR-PlusTM program, which supports STAIRTM grant recipients who successfully achieve their commercialization milestones.

As part of the program, TechAccel executives participate in the review and assessment of grant applications in agriculture, animal health, food and nutrition. TechAccel executives provide mentorship to grant-winning researchers, who may also be considered for future TechAccel emerging company investments.

TechAccel also recently announced an investment in a science advancement project underway at The Siegel Lab in the Genome Center at UC Davis. This project, led by Justin B. Siegel, Ph.D., Faculty Director of the Innovation Institute for Food and Health, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry & Molecular Medicine at UC Davis, is directed towards identifying mutations in a wheat enzyme can produce plants capable of thriving in warmer temperatures.

 

About TechAccel

TechAccel LLC was founded in 2014 as a first-of-its-kind technology and venture development company in the agriculture, animal health and food technology sectors. TechAccel sources, invests in and acquires early-stage innovations. Through collaborations with universities and research institutions, TechAccel conducts advancement and de-risking research and development to ready technologies for commercialization. For more information, visit www.techaccel.net. Follow us on Twitter at @Tech_Accel.

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 35,000 students, an annual research budget of over $780 million and a comprehensive health system. The university offers 102 undergraduate majors and 99 graduate programs through four colleges and six professional schools.

About Venture Catalyst

Venture Catalyst is one of three units within the Technology Management & Corporate Relations division of the UC Davis Office of Research. Venture Catalyst furthers the university’s educational, research and public mission by supporting UC Davis students, faculty and researchers in translating science, engineering and innovative research, through well-resourced startups, into societal impact.

 

Media Contacts:

UC Davis

AJ Cheline

530.219.8739

acheline@ucdavis.edu

TechAccel Initiates Protein Engineering Project with UC Davis to Improve Wheat Yield

TechAccel

KANSAS CITY, MO, and DAVIS, CA – February 22, 2018–TechAccel LLC, a Kansas City-based technology and venture development company, today announced it has initiated a protein engineering research project with The Siegel Lab in the Genome Center of the University of California, Davis.

The project will determine if specific mutations in a wheat enzyme can produce plants capable of thriving in warmer temperatures.

“The Siegel lab, with its advanced enzyme design and engineering capabilities, is the perfect partner for this important research,” said Brad Fabbri, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer of TechAccel. “If we are successful in demonstrating the enzyme’s effectiveness, the next step will be to employ gene editing to produce a non-GMO wheat with significantly improved yield.”

It has been recently reported that global warming is already slowing wheat yield gains, with global wheat production expected to fall by six percent for each degree Celsius increase. The optimum temperature for wheat during the development of the grain is about 15-20 degrees Celsius (59-68 degrees Fahrenheit), but yield diminishes as temperatures increase–a big problem as growing seasons become warmer as a consequence of climate change.

At The Siegel Lab, researchers will use advanced techniques in protein structure prediction to construct and test a handful of enzyme variants that TechAccel has been studying. The ultimate goal is to create a “recipe” for enzyme improvement to produce wheat that can thrive in warmer growing seasons–up to 10 degrees Celsius above the ideal range.

“We are excited to bring the cutting-edge technologies of computational protein design and synthetic biology to tackle this important problem,” said Justin B. Siegel, Ph.D., Faculty Director of the Innovation Institute for Food and Health, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry & Molecular Medicine at UC Davis Genome Center. “The unique combination of technologies and discoveries brought together in this endeavor by TechAccel and UC Davis has the potential to build wheat varietals that we need in a world with an ever-changing climate.”

TechAccel is a technology and venture development organization focused in agriculture, animal health and food technology. The company invests in innovative technology and funds science advancement programs to accelerate readiness for commercialization. Financial terms and additional project details were not disclosed.

TechAccel began its collaboration with UC-Davis in 2016 with its participation in the UC-Davis Venture Catalyst STAIR-PlusTM program, an expansion of the Venture Catalyst Science Translation and Innovative Research (STAIRTM) grants, which are in their fifth year of enabling the commercial translation of UC Davis research and technologies through proof-of-concept funding. The STAIR-Plus program offers additional support to STAIR grant recipients who have successfully achieved their projected commercialization milestones and are poised for commercial impact pending completion of specific targeted activities.

About TechAccel

TechAccel LLC was founded in 2014 as a first-of-its-kind technology and venture development company in the agriculture, animal health and food technology sectors. TechAccel sources, invests in and acquires early-stage innovations. Through collaborations with universities and research institutions, TechAccel conducts advancement and de-risking research and development to ready technologies for commercialization. For more information, visit www.techaccel.net. Follow us on Twitter at @Tech_Accel.

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 35,000 students, an annual research budget of over $780 million and a comprehensive health system. The university offers 102 undergraduate majors and 99 graduate programs through four colleges and six professional schools.

About Venture Catalyst

Venture Catalyst is one of three units within the Technology Management & Corporate Relations division of the UC Davis Office of Research. Venture Catalyst furthers the university’s educational, research and public mission by supporting UC Davis students, faculty and researchers in translating science, engineering and innovative research, through well-resourced startups, into societal impact.

Media Contacts:

TechAccel
Michael Kellner 512.960.8223
techaccel@treblepr.com

UC Davis
AJ Cheline
530.219.8739
acheline@ucdavis.edu

HM.CLAUSE and UC Davis Venture Catalyst Extend Commitment to Support Early-stage Startups

Life Science Innovation Center

UC Davis Venture Catalyst and HM.CLAUSE have extended and enhanced their partnership on the UC Davis-HM.CLAUSE Life Science Innovation Center, a business incubator focused on advancing regional innovation in the life sciences.

The UC Davis-HM.CLAUSE Life Science Innovation Center is a 3,100 square-foot, off-campus facility located in Davis, California. The facility, which is owned and managed by HM.CLAUSE, a global leader in the production and sale of vegetable seeds, contains biochemistry, molecular biology and chemistry lab space, as well as 1,800 square feet of contiguous greenhouse growth facilities. Established in 2014, it is the only wet lab incubator facility of its kind in the Davis-Sacramento region, supporting life science startups ranging from agtech to human therapeutics. Startups are able to rent dedicated lab bench space in the facility ― which also includes access to shared lab equipment and instrumentation, office space, and meeting rooms ― for a period ranging between six months to two years.

The expanded partnership sets forth a commitment for a minimum of five additional years to support the facility and grow the associated resources available to early-stage startups and other innovative companies. To supplement the shared lab equipment and instrumentation available at the facility, Venture Catalyst has allocated funding received through the University of California Innovation and Entrepreneurship Expansion Bill (AB 2664) to make available additional technical equipment and specialized instrumentation for the benefit of startups leasing space in the incubator. HM.CLAUSE is also making improvements to the facility to expand shared office space and to provide access to additional lab bench space for tenants.

“The successful collaboration with UC Davis on the Life Science Innovation Center has provided us with a unique and beneficial opportunity to engage with innovative ideas being advanced by aspiring entrepreneurs and startup companies within our industry and beyond,” said Cecilia Chi-Ham, director of Innovation, Intellectual Property and R&D Strategy at HM.CLAUSE. “HM.CLAUSE is committed to supporting community-based, local and regional economic development and this is a visible and impactful example of our many efforts on this front.”

The UC Davis-HM.CLAUSE Life Science Innovation Center was the first member of the Venture Catalyst Distributed Research Innovation & Venture Engine (DRIVETM) Program, a network of business incubators on- and off-campus that provide university-affiliated startups access to affordable work space, laboratory space and equipment ― supplemented with support and resources provided by Venture Catalyst. As the region’s innovation ecosystem has matured, the DRIVE Program has grown to include eight members, extending the resources available to university-affiliated entrepreneurs and startups in the Davis-Sacramento region and beyond.

“We are thrilled to enhance our partnership with HM.CLAUSE, which offers wet lab incubator space that addresses the demand for specialized research and development facilities by many of the early-stage, university-affiliated startups we are supporting through Venture Catalyst and its programs,” said Dushyant Pathak, associate vice chancellor of Technology Management & Corporate Relations at UC Davis and executive director of Venture Catalyst. “This collaboration is a critical component in our efforts to cultivate robust technology startups and drive regional economic impact.”

In 2016, HM.CLAUSE received the inaugural UC Davis Chancellor’s Innovative Community Partner Award. This award recognizes a leader or organization in the UC Davis community that has contributed significantly to driving regional economic impact through innovation, entrepreneurship or support for growing a startup ecosystem in collaboration with the university.

Since its launch in 2015, ten early-stage startups have leased space in the incubator. One of the center’s first tenants, Circularis Biotechnologies, Inc., has made notable progress on business milestones while maintaining a presence in the incubator. Circularis has developed a novel method to regulate gene expression and enable increased production yields of proteins, enzymes and small molecules with applications across biotherapeutics manufacturing, industrial biotechnology, and large-scale agriculture. The company was founded by Paul Feldstein, assistant project scientist at UC Davis, to commercialize technology developed at the university. Circularis received funding and mentorship through its participation in IndieBio’s 2015 winter cohort and has since established partnerships with several companies utilizing the platform for industrial and medical applications. “Having access to the UC Davis-HM.CLAUSE Life Science Innovation Center has allowed my company to make significant strides in developing its technology in an environment that promotes collaboration and offers vital access to key pieces of technical equipment,” said Feldstein.

Another recent tenant, MiraculeX, arrived at the Life Science Innovation Center by way of IndieBio, where it participated in the 2016 spring cohort. MiraculeX has received funding to develop plant-based protein sweeteners, intended to be better tasting and healthier natural alternatives to artificial sweeteners for use in foods. Its ability to enhance flavor profiles of existing foods is expected to enable additional applications beyond sweetening, such as the potential to improve appetite in patients undergoing chemotherapy or suffering from chronic wasting conditions associated with reduced food intake. “The UC Davis-HM.CLAUSE Life Science Innovation Center and opportunities for engagement with faculty, staff, and students at UC Davis were critical factors in my decision to move MiraculeX to Davis,” said Alan Perlstein, CEO and founder. “Being able to work in a greenhouse facility and develop connections with the university and a strong network throughout Northern California has accelerated our progress on important company milestones.”

Current university-affiliated tenants at the UC Davis-HM.CLAUSE Life Science Innovation Center include:

  • ARIZ Precision Medicine – developing new, targeted biology based and small-molecule based therapies for cancer.
  • AstRoNA – combining RNA-based molecular biology and nano-technology/electrical engineering to rapidly and sensitively identify critical microbes, including pathogens of humans, animals and plants.
  • Buto Biopharma – developing drugs that impact the Shc target, with implications for anti-diabetes and tissue protection.
  • Circularis – developing novel methods to regulate gene expression and enable increased production yields of proteins, enzymes, and small molecules in cellular systems.
  • Inserogen – biotechnology company that utilizes proprietary technologies to accelerate Pre-Investigational New Drug research and process development of therapeutic biologics for rare diseases.
  • MiraculeX – developing platforms to mass produce natural plant-based protein sweeteners and products.
  • PathLog Corporation – developing deep learning analytical tools and sensors for processing, financial analysis and tracking, risk assessment, and pathogen safety for vertically integrated food and agricultural product producers including poultry and pork.

About Venture Catalyst

UC Davis Venture Catalyst facilitates the translation of university research and technology by enabling the effective development of new ventures. Along with directly supporting campus innovators and community-based entrepreneurs, Venture Catalyst engages with the Davis and Sacramento business, government and economic development communities to articulate how UC Davis technologies and startups can be expected to generate regional economic impact. Working closely with these partners, Venture Catalyst is invigorating the technology-based entrepreneurial ecosystem of the region.

About HM.CLAUSE

HM.CLAUSE is a global vegetable seed company dedicated to meeting local needs through global diversity, and is committed to innovation inspired by worldwide partnerships in the scientific, industrial, and commercial fields. An innovative company whose core business is plant breeding, HM.CLAUSE specializes in the development, production, and sales of vegetable seeds worldwide. In 2008, Harris Moran Seed Company (USA) and Clause (France) were grouped together under the HM.CLAUSE Business Unit of Limagrain. HM.CLAUSE generated €325 million in annual sales in 2016 and employs more than 2,800 people full-time located in over 30 countries around the world. Its investments in research and breeding represent 14% of annual sales. The organization coordinates breeding for 25 species and has more than 800 people actively engaged in research and development activities. HM.CLAUSE is a Business Unit of Limagrain, an international agricultural co-operative group, specializing in field seeds, vegetable seeds and cereal products. Founded and managed by French farmers, Limagrain is the 4th largest seed company in the world.

About AB-2664

Assembly Bill 2664, also referred to as the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Expansion bill, was authored by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, and signed last fall by Governor Jerry Brown. AB 2664 is designed to propel new innovation and entrepreneurship efforts across the University of California through investments in infrastructure, incubators and entrepreneurship education programs. The $22 million investment was dispersed equally to each of the ten UC campuses at the beginning of 2017. Venture Catalyst is the program lead at UC Davis and is implementing a variety of innovation and entrepreneurship expansion activities in conjunction with partners on campus, including the Mike and Renee Child Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the Engineering Student Startup Center, the Office of the Provost, Graduate Studies and the Internship and Career Center, as well as external community partners, such as HM.CLAUSE.

September 20, 2017

By Ryan Sharp

Related Links

HM.CLAUSE receives UC Davis Chancellor Innovative Community Partner Award

UC Davis partners with HM.CLAUSE to open Life Science Innovation Center

UC Davis to enhance campus innovation with $2.2 million from State Innovation and Entrepreneurship Expansion Bill, AB 2664

Media Contact

AJ Cheline (530) 219-8739

UC Davis Venture Catalyst partners with The Urban Hive and I/O Labs to build a more robust regional innovation network

UC Davis Venture Catalyst partners with The Urban Hive and I/O Labs to build a more robust regional innovation network

 

The University of California, Davis, has entered into collaboration agreements through which The Urban Hive and I/O Labs – Sacramento-based innovation, co-working and collaboration spaces – will become the newest members of the Venture Catalyst Distributed Research Innovation & Venture Engine (DRIVETM) network of startup incubators. These new partnerships combine the facilities and resources available through The Urban Hive and I/O Labs with the services, connections and access to resources available to UC Davis affiliated startups through Venture Catalyst to support the translation of ground-breaking research and business concepts into commercial products and services. The addition of The Urban Hive and I/O Labs to the Venture Catalyst DRIVE Network expands access to incubation facilities in Sacramento for UC Davis startups and entrepreneurs to help facilitate enhanced pathways to commercialization of innovative research.

“We are excited to be partnering with The Urban Hive and I/O Labs to support the needs of emerging startups in the region and to help build a more robust innovation ecosystem guided by a regional collaborative network dedicated to economic development,” said Dushyant Pathak, associate vice chancellor of Research at UC Davis and executive director of Venture Catalyst. “This type of coordinated economic engagement is essential to achieving tangible regional impact from university research and technology, and creating an innovation economy that effectively leverages the creativity of the diverse, highly-skilled and talented faculty, students and staff at the university.”

The Urban Hive launched in 2009 with a 6,700-square-foot facility in midtown Sacramento with the goal of supporting entrepreneurial and creative ventures in the Greater Sacramento region by providing access to shared work spaces, private offices, meeting and conference rooms, as well as regular workshops and networking events. The Urban Hive plans to expand to a new 14,000-square-foot facility in the Cannery Business Park development in Sacramento. As part of the expansion, The Urban Hive will introduce product development capabilities, including specialized instrumentation that will allow members to build prototypes and run small-scale production.

This capabilities expansion is being advanced by UC Davis Venture Catalyst with support that includes new equipment and resources for use by local and university-affiliated startups. The investment in maker and related equipment is made possible by funding received by University of California campuses in early-2017 through the UC Innovation & Entrepreneurship Expansion Bill (AB 2664). This bill allocated $22 million to be split equally amongst the UC campuses with the objective of accelerating economic development in the state by expanding university activities and community partnerships that support innovation and entrepreneurship.

I/O Labs, which is also led by The Urban Hive’s founder Brandon Weber, plans to bring 40,000 square feet of innovation space online in downtown Sacramento targeted for initial launch later this year. I/O Labs will create a space where the innovation ecosystem can coalesce, bringing together a unique network of service providers, educational programs and a planned accelerator program to support and mentor entrepreneurs and startups in the facility.

“This collaboration provides enhanced opportunities to both support the needs of university-affiliated entrepreneurs and startups with space, prototyping equipment, and resources and integrate these innovators into a broader network of peers, collaborators, and support providers,” said Weber.  “The successful model established at The Urban Hive, and new resources coming online soon through the Urban Hive expansion and I/O Labs, will help innovative companies establish themselves and grow in the region.”

“I am proud to see our $22 million budget allocation put to good use with the UC Davis Venture Catalyst project with I/O Labs and The Urban Hive,” said Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee on Education Finance. “University innovators and entrepreneurs support small businesses in our communities and impact economic development in the Sacramento region.”

In addition to collaboration through the Venture Catalyst DRIVETM Network, the university has also committed to work closely with I/O Labs to help lead renewed efforts around the California Governor’s Office of Business & Economic Development (GO-Biz) statewide Innovation Hub (iHub) program with a shared objective of advancement of a robust regional innovation ecosystem through the Sacramento Region Partner Network.

Nine grants, totaling $328,000, awarded to help campus innovators advance research and technology towards commercialization

2017 STAIR Grant Awards

UC Davis announced today the recipients of nine proof-of-concept grants totaling $328,000 for campus innovators to advance their research and technologies towards commercialization. These grants and the associated review process are managed by UC Davis Venture Catalyst through the Science Translation and Innovative Research (STAIRTM) grant program, which is in its fourth year, and the newly launched Data, Informatics and Application Launch (DIALTM) grant program.

“It remains the responsibility of public universities like UC Davis, to fulfil their societal mission of generating impact from research, by facilitating the translation of faculty and student research into meaningful products and services that enrich the human experience,” said Dushyant Pathak, associate vice chancellor for research and executive director of Venture Catalyst at UC Davis. “Through our successful STAIR grant program and the newly launched DIAL grants, we are enabling our most innovative campus researchers to map a more effective path from their scientific and engineering breakthroughs to the commercial sphere.”

The 2017 STAIR grant recipients

The STAIR grant program provides awards of up to $50,000 per grant recipient to help campus innovators demonstrate proof-of-concept and commercial feasibility of their technologies. A total of 30 applications were received this year. Six award recipients were selected to receive grants following a multistage review process involving external industry experts, investors and entrepreneurs that evaluated each application based on its market potential, technical merit and ability to achieve identified commercialization milestones with the funds requested.

This year’s STAIR grant recipients are:

Johnathon AndersonJohnathon Anderson, assistant professor, Stem Cell Research Program

Anderson and his team have developed a novel drug candidate platform for inflammatory diseases that offers the beneficial aspects of stem cell therapeutics with fewer hurdles to clinical development.

 

Paul HendersonPaul Henderson, associate adjunct professor, Department of Internal Medicine

Henderson and his team are developing an add-on chemotherapy drug that increases the effectiveness of existing treatment regimens for advanced bladder cancer. Their innovation, an orally bioavailable drug, combines anti-inflammatory and anti-angiogenic properties.

 

Lee MillerLee Miller, associate professor, Center for Mind and Brain

Miller and his team have developed a powerful electroencephalogram (EEG) diagnostic that provides a rapid and comprehensive assessment of the functional health of the auditory system, including how speech is processed at different levels and how these levels interact. Their innovation is expected to enable individualized assessments of hearing loss and improve the performance of assistive listening devices.

 

David OlsonDavid Olson, assistant professor, Department of Chemistry

Olson and his team have discovered how to decouple the beneficial effects of neuroplasticity-promoting compounds from their deleterious hallucinogenic and psychostimulant effects in order to develop more effective drug therapies for various neurological disorders.

 

Lin TianLin Tian, assistant professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine

Tian and her team have developed a novel technology for drug discovery involving G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). Their innovation directly tackles GPCR confrontational dynamics in living cells and organisms, providing a novel platform for rigorous high-throughput cell-based screening and validation.

 

Yu-Jui WanYu-Jui (Yvonne) Wan, vice chair for research, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Wan and her team are developing a bio-encapsulation process using yeast to deliver retinoic acid and a short-chain fatty acid with histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitory properties that benefit the liver and intestine — offering the potential to help prevent and treat metabolic-associated diseases and cancer.

 

The 2017 DIAL grant recipients

The DIAL grant program is a pilot program structured similarly to the STAIR grant program, which targets commercial opportunities in software, informatics and data science. This program is enabled by funding provided by the State of California under Assembly Bill AB 2664. Passed in 2016, this unique legislation authorizes one-time funding of $2.2 million to each of the 10 University of California campuses with the objective of expanding innovation and entrepreneurship programs on each campus. Three DIAL grant recipients were selected following a review process modeled on the STAIR grant program, based on each project’s market potential, technical merit and ability to achieve identified commercialization milestones with the funds requested.

The DIAL grant award recipients are:

Petr JanataPetr Janata, professor, Department of Psychology

Janata has invented an online platform that allows users to document and share personal memories they associate with specific pieces of music. Janata’s technology platform leverages his research in the field of cognitive neuroscience and the psychology of music to enable a number of life enriching applications linking music, memory and interpersonal interactions.

 

Nelson MaxNelson Max, distinguished professor, Department of Computer Science

Max and his team have developed a novel system for use in emergency response training where emergency scenarios can be added to real world environments. His invention uses a quadcopter camera that will add computer-generated artificial reality graphic image components to a computer screen.

 

Lisa Miller, professor, Department of Human Ecology

Miller and her team have invented a gaming app to teach nutrition concepts, practice food-choice skills, build nutritional literacy and promote healthy behavior-change in adults to combat poor dietary habits.

 

Benefits extend beyond financial awards

In addition to the financial support, each recipient of STAIR and DIAL grants is assigned an experienced business mentor to review project milestones, offer commercialization guidance, provide business advice, and facilitate networking opportunities and connections to industry. Additionally, through a collaboration between Venture Catalyst and the UC Davis Mike and Renee Child Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, and enabled by the State of California’s AB 2664 Innovation and Entrepreneurship expansion funding, STAIR and DIAL grant teams will participate in commercialization clinics that will provide them with business and commercialization guidance and skills development.

“The direct interface between grant recipients and experienced industry experts, along with accompanying cohort-based skills development and training, is a critical element of the success of these proof-of-concept grant programs in de-risking UC Davis technologies and moving them closer to commercial uptake and societal impact,” said Pathak. “We are proud of our close collaboration with the Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship and grateful to our external industry review panel and participants in the STAIR and DIAL mentor engagement programs.”

Future awards

The application process for next year’s STAIR grant will begin in early 2018 and will be open to anyone with principal investigator status at UC Davis. Postdoctoral scholars and staff are eligible to apply as co-principal investigators. The DIAL grant program offering in subsequent years is yet to be determined and will be announced as soon as a decision has been made.

Media contact

From Ideas to Innovations: Recipients of 2016 STAIR Grants Announced

From ideas to innovation with STAIR grants

August 4, 2016: Venture Catalyst, a unit within the Technology Management and Corporate Relations division of the UC Davis Office of Research, is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2016 Science Translation and Innovative Research, or STAIR, grants.

Now in its third year, the competitive STAIR grant program provides awards of up to $50,000 to help campus entrepreneurs demonstrate proof-of-concept and commercial feasibility of their technologies.

This year’s award recipients are undertaking innovative projects to address a variety of unmet market needs. The 2016 STAIR award winners are:

gino-cortopassiGino Cortopassi, professor, Department of Molecular Biosciences; Alexey Tomilov, assistant project scientist, Department of Molecular Biosciences
Cortopassi and Tomilov have identified several compounds that significantly inhibit Shc, a signaling protein that has been shown to improve the body’s response to insulin and produce resistance to pediatric nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.


richard-levenson

Richard Levenson, professor and vice chair, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Farzad Fereidouni, assistant project scientist, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Levenson and his team have created an innovative new method for spectral imaging that drastically reduces the amount of data needed for analysis. Their novel approach uses a conventional camera sensor fitted with either a filter wheel or beam-splitting optics.


kai-liu-e1470180402210

Kai Liu, professor, Department of Physics
Liu and his team invented a new method that creates stable skyrmion lattices at room temperature and in zero magnetic field, making them an excellent candidate for energy efficient data storage as well as other nanoelectronics applications.


tony-simon-e1470180329611

Tony Simon, professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Simon has invented a “neurotherapeutic” video game designed to help improve the cognitive abilities of children with genetic disorders such as chromosome 22q11.2 deletion, fragile X, Turner and Williams syndromes, among others.


“The STAIR grant program is unique in many ways,” said Dushyant Pathak, associate vice chancellor for research at UC Davis and executive director of Venture Catalyst. “The structured review process we have developed enables our independent reviewers to effectively assess proposals for technical merit, market need and the ability to effectively achieve commercial milestones. Additionally, this process allows us to provide detailed written feedback to all applicants, which makes the STAIR program part of a continuous improvement and learning process rather than simply a funding opportunity.”

Each STAIR award recipient, as well as all award finalists, are assigned one or more volunteer mentors who review project milestones, offer commercialization guidance, provide business advice, and facilitate networking opportunities and connections to industry. The mentors are selected from the UC Davis Venture Catalyst MentorNet™ program and represent a mix of industry professionals, entrepreneurs and investors. Members of the Venture Catalyst MentorNet also serve on the grant application review committee.

The annual STAIR grant program is open to anyone with principal investigator eligibility at UC Davis. Postdoctoral scholars and staff are eligible to apply as co-principal investigators.

Past STAIR Grant Recipients Make Progress with Innovations

Previous years’ STAIR grant recipients have made significant progress in moving projects forward along the path to commercialization.renal-artery-300x191

Richard Levenson has received a STAIR grant two years in a row. In 2015, he proposed developing a prototype for a new type of microscopy instrumentation. Microscopy with Ultraviolet Surface Excitation, or MUSE, as the novel technology is called, permits the creation of diagnostic-quality images of tissue samples that are generated in minutes using LED light, and eliminates the need for the traditional time-consuming preparation of samples and glass slides.

Levenson credits his STAIR grant as being pivotal in funding the opto-mechanical design of the prototypes that he and his team are assembling which will soon ship to collaborators. “Without STAIR funding, we would not have had the resources to move forward as we have.”

In addition to the creation of the prototypes, two patents have been issued for the invention and a third patent application has been submitted and published. The team has also launched a startup company, MUSE Microscopy Inc.

Related Links

STAIR grant program
2015 Recipients
2014 Recipients
• “Digital neurotherapeutic” game in development at the UC Davis MIND Institute
Magnetic skyrmions at room temperature: New digital memory?