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

he 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 i
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Contact: Mike Wolterbeek
mwolterbeek@unr.edu
University of Nevada, Reno
Source:Eurekalert  

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