Navigation Links
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 the compounds they need; a process that is usually time consuming and can be hazardous."

EscaZyme's biotechnological approach to synthesizing these value-added compounds is estimated to be more economical than current methods and therefore will be of commercial interest. The process has been 12 years in the works through Tittiger's work in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources at the University.

"When I started research on the bark beetle, starting a business was the furthest thing from my mind," said Tittiger. "It's great to be able to take the research to the next level, to make this technology available to industry where it can do some good."

The University's manager of industry partnerships, Dan Langford, supported the project as a team member in the NSF program. Langford said a $50,000 I-Corps grant from the NSF program, coupled with the Tech Transfer programs, kept the project on the right course.

"I-Corps validated our directions, and we learned useful methods for evaluating technologies and how to make it successful," Langford said. "It showed us how it would have been easy to waste a year of effort following the wrong leads and that not every technology is a whiz-bang product that saves the world."

Figueroa-Teran, the technical lead and entrepreneurial champion of the project, said the Tech Transfer Office was an unexpected and valuable asset.

"Our involvement with the TTO's strategic research program really helped us," she said. "Things like putting the numbers together, the cost of producing compounds and realizing what was really important if you were thinking about commercializing a product. We've learned a lot."

"It's gratifying to see basic research evolve into commercial ventures," Ron Pardini, dean of the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources, said. "Diversifying the economy in Nevada is important, and this is one way the University can contribute. This project is a prime example of economic development: University research, industry outreach and collaboration and building the workforce. EscaZyme has a lot of potential."


'/>"/>
Contact: Mike Wolterbeek
mwolterbeek@unr.edu
University of Nevada, Reno
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Color in fossil insects, diamonds from the ancient ocean floor and modeling the worlds largest rivers
2. Insects scientists and children meeting in Las Cruces, New Mexico
3. Southern insect scientists to meet in Baton Rouge in March
4. Finding Mr. Right, how insects sniff out the perfect mate
5. Ancient insects shed light on biodiversity
6. USDA grant advancing deadly plant disease, insect research
7. Combating USDAs top-ranked invasive insect
8. Arming US troops with insect-protective gear
9. NSF-funded inventory of mega-diverse insect order now underway
10. Dolphin hearing system component found in insects
11. Insect-eating bat outperforms nectar specialist as pollinator of cactus flowers
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Insect research heads down path to start-up company with NSF I-Corps program
(Date:5/24/2016)... , May 24, 2016 Ampronix facilitates superior patient care by providing unparalleled ... medical LCD display is the latest premium product recently added to the range of ... ... ... Sony 3d Imaging- LCD Medical Display- Ampronix News ...
(Date:5/12/2016)... , May 12, 2016 WearablesResearch.com ... just published the overview results from the Q1 wave ... the recent wave was consumers, receptivity to a program ... data with a health insurance company. "We ... to share," says Michael LaColla , CEO of ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... SAN FRANCISCO and BANGALORE, India ... part of EdgeVerve Systems, a product subsidiary of Infosys (NYSE: ... service provider, today announced a global partnership that ... convenient way to use mobile banking and payment services. ... Mobility is a key innovation area for financial services, but ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... the launch of the Supplyframe Design Lab . Located in Pasadena, Calif., ... the future of how hardware projects are designed, built and brought to market. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... BEACH, Calif. , June 23, 2016  Blueprint ... new biological discoveries to the medical community, has closed ... co-founder Matthew Nunez . "We have ... us with the capital we need to meet our ... will essentially provide us the runway to complete validation ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Prairie, WI (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 ... ... consultancy focused on quality, regulatory and technical consulting, provides a free webinar ... is presented on July 13, 2016 at 12pm CT at no charge. , ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... 22, 2016 Cell Applications, Inc. and ... to produce up to one billion human induced ... one week. These high-quality, consistent stem cells enable ... and spend more time doing meaningful, relevant research. ... high-volume manufacturing process that produces affordable, reliable HiPSC ...
Breaking Biology Technology: