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August 10, 2020 | Tom Ballard

UTRF spotlights six start-ups launched around UT intellectual property

In the latest edition of UTRF News, the University of Tennessee (UT) Research Foundation reports that it assisted in the launch of six start-up companies during FY20. All were based on UT intellectual property and represented industries ranging from drug development and biotechnology to composite manufacturing and artificial intelligence.

In addition, UTRF reported other year-end statistics that showed 201 invention disclosures in FY20, 42 executed licenses, 111 U.S. patent applications filed, and 28 U.S. patents issued.

Here is more information on the six companies excerpted from the article in UTRF News.

  • Aurora BIO, Inc.: Menlo Park, CA
    It is a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on amyloidosis, including novel diagnostics and therapeutics. The company is focused on improving the lives of patients suffering from systemic amyloid diseases such as light chain (AL), transthyretin (ATTR), and LECT2 amyloidosis. To do so, Aurora Bio is developing peptide-based immunotherapies and cell therapy that target phagocytosis of amyloid deposits leveraging the exquisite binding properties of its peptide technology. Aurora’s technology has broad applications and the potential to address up to 30 systemic amyloid based diseases.
  • Azimuth Sleep Solutions, Inc.: Germantown, TN
    The start-up’s mission is to eradicate obstructive sleep apnea. With more than 20 years of experience in care of patients with obstructive sleep apnea, the Azimuth team works closely with leaders in the field of sleep medicine and dental science to design products to meet the treatment needs of customers. The team is working to build the future of CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) mask design.
  • Endeavor Composites Inc.: Knoxville
    Founded in June 2019, Endeavor Composites Inc. is committed to a cleaner world by providing a zero-waste solution for fiber and composite manufacturers. Its nonwoven technology can transform any fiber trims, short spools, early production fibers and recycled fibers into a new product to cater to the advanced composites industry. These nonwoven fabrics are guaranteed to be defect-free, high tolerance density consistency and tailored to specific customer needs. We spotlighted Founder and Chief Executive Officer Hicham Ghossein, who is a member of Cohort 3 of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s “Innovation Crossroads” program, in this biz article from January.
  • NPI, LLC: Oxford, MS
    Launched in 2020 by Ryan Yates, a Principal Scientist at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy’s National Center for Natural Products Research, NPI LLC is a technology-driven natural product discovery and development company. The start-up leverages its cutting-edge artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms, along with its deep expertise in natural product chemistry and pharmacology, to assist dietary supplement companies in the development of their botanical innovation pipeline. The company also pursues the development and commercialization of its proprietary botanical ingredients, which includes its SmartCore technology licensed from UTRF.
  • SEAK Therapeutics: Memphis
    Founded in November 2018, SEAK Therapeutics focuses on advancing drug development for pediatric cancers. In September 2019, the National Cancer Institute awarded the start-up a one-year, Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant in the amount of $299,823 to further develop its current lead compound, and SEAK Therapeutics is likely to be awarded a second Phase I SBIR grant from the NCI in early 2021. Company Founder Wei Li is a Pharmaceutical Sciences Professor at the UT Health Science Center and Director of the UT College of Pharmacy Drug Discovery Center. He described the process of founding the company as a “steep learning curve,” but was also a well rewarding experience.
  • Tel Boxx LLC: Knoxville
    Tel Boxx LLC was founded by two UT, Knoxville (UTK) alumni, making it their second local start-up. As described in this biz article from March, Nima Tamaddoni and Graham Taylor commercializing a product called the TEL BOXX™ (Tamper Evident Lock Box). The device proactively limits hospital exposure to non-reimbursable high costs due to patients with a history of IV drug use, who are historically uninsured or Medicaid insured. In collaboration with nurses and UTRF, the TEL BOXX was developed by Matthew Mench, Interim Vice Chancellor for Research at UTK. Key additional contributions to the initial design were made by Chad Duty and Matthew Young, Professors in the Tickle College of Engineering. The TEL BOXX has been used by 11 hospitals in eight states. The cost-effective design is the only tamper evidence device that can be used on IV lines while infusing patients.

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