State funds help accelerate UW-Madison technologies from lab to market

Emerging technologies developed at UW-Madison will receive a funding boost as the result of a $200,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) in support of an on-campus grant program administered by UW’s Discovery to Product (D2P).

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

“We very much appreciate WEDC’s support of the SEED program and homegrown innovation, in general,” said D2P Director Andrew Richards. “This funding will help these outstanding emerging companies perform additional research on their cutting-edge technologies to improve market readiness and, importantly, help grow these companies right here in Wisconsin.”

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.

This year’s selected projects represent a wide array of Wisconsin innovation, ranging from novel treatments for heart disease to improved infectious disease testing methods to electrical aircraft development.

“Increasing the rate of Innovation for the state is one of WEDC’s key goals in our quest to support more startups and move forward from the pandemic,” said Aaron Hagar, WEDC Vice President, Division of Entrepreneurship & Innovation. “One of the most effective ways to support the formation of next-generation companies is by working with our universities to advance new technologies.”

The six UW–Madison projects selected for funding are:

David Beebe (Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine & Biomedical Engineering) will work with Flambeau Diagnostics to develop a rapid, point-of-care molecular diagnostic test for infectious diseases such as COVID-19. The test is designed to be very simple to operate, ultimately enabling at-home testing by untrained users, while achieving assay performance approaching that of conventional lab-based molecular (PCR) tests.

Allan Brasier (Executive Director of UW–Madison’s Institute for Clinical and Translational Research) and Seungpyo Hong (Director of Wisconsin Center for NanoBioSystems) will work with Quadragenics on novel molecular drug delivery technologies that aim to help reverse the impact of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a fatal lung disease that affects approximately 40,000 patients in the United States per year.

George Huber (Professor of Chemical Engineering) will work with Pyran to utilize UW–Madison resources to help advance and commercialize their PyranDiol technology. PyranDiol uses renewable wood and crop waste resources to make paints and plastics precursors at a much lower cost than oil-based products.

David Hsu (Professor of Pediatric Neurology), Bermans Iskandar (Professor of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics), Christopher Luzzio (Associate Professor of Neurology), and Joshua Medow (Associate Professor of Neurosurgery) will work with Madison Scientific, Inc. to advance and commercialize their SmartValve technology, which is a shunt valve used in the treatment of hydrocephalus, the leading cause of childhood brain surgery worldwide, and a serious cause of morbidity and death. SmartValve improves upon current technology in that it is tailored to each patient’s needs and drains in response to intracranial pressure signals. SmartValve is predicted to be significantly more durable than current commercial shunt valves, which have a failure rate of nearly 50% after two years.

Frank Pfefferkorn (Professor of Mechanical Engineering), Eric Severson (Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering), and Dan Thoma (Professor of Materials Science and Engineering) will work with Dastan Technologies to develop the world’s first fully 3D-printed electric motor for aircraft that uses electric power to hover, take off, and land vertically.

Eric Schmuck (Senior Scientist, Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research) will work with Cellular Logistics to advance their Tandem HF technology, which utilizes stem cell therapy to naturally revitalize heart tissue damaged by cardiovascular disease. The project team aims to establish partnerships with cellular therapy companies and move cardiac stem cell therapies into clinical settings.

For more information about D2P and its programs and services, visit D2P.wisc.edu