Emerging Technologies at UW—Madison Get Boost From State Funds

Discovery to Product Awards Funds to Eight Campus Startups

Emerging technologies developed at UW—Madison will receive funding assistance as the result of an on-campus grant program administered by UW-Madison’s Discovery to Product (D2P) and a matching grant of $300,000 from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).

D2P’s annual State Economic Engagement and Development (SEED) program will help advance innovative research and commercialization of technologies developed by eight companies founded by UW–Madison researchers. WEDC’s support comes from its Capital Catalyst program, providing additional seed funds to accelerate in-state innovation and attract additional investment in Wisconsin’s emerging companies.

“There are so many remarkable technologies and companies associated with UW–Madison discoveries,” said D2P Director Andy Richards. “Thank you to WEDC for their matching support of the UW-Madison SEED program. The funding will allow these outstanding emerging businesses to benefit from additional university research to improve market readiness and implementation of their cutting-edge technologies right here in Wisconsin.”

“Innovative companies developed within our universities contribute to Wisconsin’s economic growth,” said Aaron Hagar, WEDC Vice President, Division of Entrepreneurship & Innovation. “With increased resources, these entrepreneurs will have a better opportunity to successfully commercialize their products.”

SEED program applications are evaluated on technical innovation, interest to a broad economic sector and potential to benefit Wisconsin’s industrial and economic development in the near-term. The selected projects range from novel treatments for heart disease to an improved benign skin tumor treatment to crop disease prevention. A diverse set of awardees and associated startups come from across the UW-Madison campus.

Awardee Kyoung-Shin Choi, Professor of Chemistry, UW–Madison commented: “We’re excited to be able to move ChloBis Water, Inc. forward right here in Wisconsin with funding to assist us in improving the efficacy and utility of desalinization and wastewater treatment.” The company has participated in WARF’s Accelerator, D2P’s Innovation to Market (I2M) cohort, and the prestigious National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) program.

The UW–Madison projects selected for funding by the SEED program in FY2023 are:

Jose Ayuso (Professor of Dermatology) and David Beebe (Professor of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine & Biomedical Engineering) will work with Salus Discovery to develop Griddient, a versatile research tool for studying biological signals and biochemical gradients in 3D microenvironments. The funding will support research and development of the Griddient platform for stem cell research, neuroscience, and cancer research applications.

Kyoung-Shin Choi (Professor of Chemistry) is working with ChloBis Water, Inc. to develop an energy efficient water desalination technology that removes salt from water and converts that salt into useful chemicals that can be repurposed. The team will optimize methods for removal and reuse of salt compounds from various saline water sources including wastewater. This technology can improve access to and preservation of freshwater sources, an important global challenge.

Beth Drolet (Professor & Chair of the Department of Dermatology) together with Arkayli Biopharma, Inc. is developing a new topical skin-based drug delivery system for treatment of hemangiomas (benign tumors) in infants to reduce unwanted side effects related to standard treatments. The funding will enable the creation of a new 3D validation tool to track changes in tumor size over time, a necessary step for clinical validation.

Dawei Feng (Assistant Professor of Materials Science & Engineering & Chemistry) will work on expanding flow battery technology, enabling Flux XII, LLC to enhance their energy storage solutions and provide cost-effective, safe and longer duration energy storage. By partnering with microgrid manufacturers and utilities, Flux XII hopes to deploy energy storage systems tied to wind and solar energy generation.

Joseph Grudzinski (Scientist III, Department of Radiology) and Justin Jeffery (Instrumentation Technologist II) will work with Phantech to develop devices that enable quantitative nuclear medicine imaging. The funding will support the development of a line of novel anthropomorphic phantoms designed to mimic human anatomy as closely as possible which may support the further development of personalized radiopharmaceutical therapy.

Amish Raval (Associate Professor of Medicine) will work with Cellular Logistics to develop a biomaterial produced from stem cells to treat patients with advanced heart failure. The funding will support research to further characterize the safety and efficacy of the biomaterial. Data from these studies will support a planned FDA Investigational New Drug (IND) submission and subsequent future human clinical trial.

Damon Smith (Associate Professor of Plant Pathology) will work with Field Prophet to deliver and commercialize expanded corn and soybean disease prediction models that will help farmers increase profitability, adapt to changing weather patterns, and prevent the overuse of pesticides. The software alerts a farmer before an infection occurs, so they have time to protect their crops and apply pesticides only when needed and at the right point in time.

Matthew Wolff (Professor of Medicine) and Timothy Kamp (Professor of Medicine) will work with Table Bluff Life Sciences to develop new therapies for an inherited and aggressive form of dilated cardiomyopathy (a disease of the heart muscle). The funding will support research to provide additional disease-specific proof of concept for the therapeutic approach and will use UW–Madison’s stem cell expertise to test the treatments for efficacy, safety, and specificity.

About Discovery to Product (D2P)
Discovery to Product (D2P) is the front door to UW–Madison’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, coordinating the Innovate Network to connect faculty, staff, and students with the right resources at the right time. D2P’s Innovation and Commercialization Specialists provide mentorship, education, and guidance to support UW–Madison’s growing community of entrepreneurs and inventors. For more information, visit d2p.wisc.edu.