Improved learning technology with high fidelity digitally enabled manikins, better ways to produce viable fuel cells, and novel drugs to combat herpesvirus pathogens are among the recipients of this year’s maturation funding from the University of Tennessee Research Foundation.

Technologies invented at the University of Tennessee, like the majority of university discoveries, typically require additional development to attract commercial interest. UTRF awards grants each year through its annual maturation funding program to help researchers advance new technologies on the path to market.

This year, UTRF was fortunate to receive over 30 strong applications and is awarding eight groups of faculty inventors. Each team receives $15,000 to further develop their technology and answer important commercialization questions.
UTRF is committed to supporting UT faculty, helping them to further develop novel technologies, and assisting with the commercialization of new discoveries.

“The UTRF Maturation Funding Grant program enables researchers to further develop innovative inventions. Many strong proposals were submitted this year. The quality of the ideas represented reflects the vibrancy of the University of Tennessee research enterprise and the potential for UT innovations to improve the lives of Tennesseans.” said David Millhorn, UTRF President and UT Executive Vice President and Vice President for Research.

2016 UTRF Health Science Center awardees include:

  • Hassan Almoazen, Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Science, for a Phase I clinical trial of topical delivery of iodide to nutrient-deficient patients
  • Vanessa Morales-Tirado, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, to develop a retinal ganglion cell line for experimental vision research
  • Guy Reed, Professor and Chair of Internal Medicine, for an antidote to reverse TPA-induced bleeding complications
  • Robert Rooney, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, for a biorepository laboratory information management system

2016 UTRF Multi-Campus Office awardees:

  • Xueping Li, Associate Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering at UT Knoxville, for developing a technology that allows for interactive debriefing between observers and participants working with high fidelity digitally enabled manikins.
  • Alexander B. Papandrew, Research Associate Professor, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at UT Knoxville, for developing an innovative method which yields commercially viable fuel cells with significantly lower precious metal content.
  • Tim Sparer, Assistant Professor of Microbiology at UT Knoxville, for development of novel anti-cytomegalovirus (CMV) drugs with decreased toxicity that can be administered during at-risk pregnancies or in immune-suppressed patients.
  • Philip Ye, Associate Professor, Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, Center for Renewable Carbon (CRC) at UT Knoxville, for creating a novel method to produce acrylic acid from crude glycerol production of technical grade acrylic acid. Acrylic acid is an important chemical precursor for the production of coatings, paints, adhesives, and polymers.

The UTRF Maturation Funding Program is open to all University of Tennessee campuses and institutes. The selection process included evaluation of three key areas: (1) demonstration of a path for commercial development, (2) market potential, and (3) stage of development. As part of the award process, UTRF will receive interim and final reports from the researchers that will describe increased knowledge and improvements in the subject technology.

This information is expected to assist UTRF in better positioning the technologies for licensing. Since its inception in 2007, the program has awarded nearly $1M to more than 70 UT projects and resulted in 34 commercial licenses. UTRF is a not-for-profit organization responsible for commercializing and licensing technology discovered by faculty, staff, and students across the UT System. In FY2015, UTRF executed 42 commercial licenses, established start four startup companies and received 116 invention disclosures.

A call for submissions for next year’s Maturation Funding Program will be announced in the fall of 2016.
For more details on the program and past winners, visit Maturation Funding Grant Recipients