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Insect research heads down path to start-up company with NSF I-Corps program
Date:2/26/2013

RENO, Nev. A team of researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno have strayed from the lab to the boardroom in an effort to build a business based on discoveries from years of research studying insect enzymes.

The work of Claus Tittiger, professor of biochemistry, and post-doctoral researcher Rubi Figueroa-Teran was accepted into a highly competitive and intense National Science Foundation business-validation program, known as Innovation Corps or I-Corps. Three months later and with the support of the University's Technology Transfer Office programs, they have now created a business and are bringing to market a product based on their enzymes.

Plans are underway to put the technological processes into mass production with the launch of a specialized chemical production company, EscaZyme Biochemicals.

The enzymes, discovered in bark beetles from trees in the Lake Tahoe area, have the potential to be used for a wide range of products such as bug traps and pesticides, perfumes, flavorings, cleaning products or even with drugs for chemotherapy and bacterial infection. After a roller-coaster ride of possibilities and contacting companies in a number of industries, the team settled on the pesticide and insect attractant application as the starting place for the business venture.

The team then expanded, getting a CEO on board, Jennifer Ott, who has a chemistry degree and is completing her MBA at the University this year. Her first order of business was turning EscaZyme Biochemicals into a Nevada limited liability company. She has just met with their first potential client, a chemical company that produces traps and lures for bark beetles, a tiny insect that can decimate a forest in just a few years.

"Our customers are governments, ranchers, timber companies, ski resorts, anyone who is interested in forest health and management," Ott said. "The company we visited is interested because our process produces very easily t
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Contact: Mike Wolterbeek
mwolterbeek@unr.edu
University of Nevada, Reno
Source:Eurekalert  

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