Partnership emphasizes UTC’s commitment to supporting innovation and commercialization efforts

The University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF) has executed a license agreement with S&J Nanochemicals, an agri-tech startup based on technology developed at UT Chattanooga (UTC). This license agreement highlights UTC’s strong commitment to bringing university innovation out of the lab and into the market.

The technology, created by former UTC professor Soubantika Palchoudhury, is a micronutrient-based, sustainable nanoparticle fertilizer applied to seeds during the pre-germination stage. This treatment results in enhanced plant growth of anywhere from 200 to 830%. Palchoudhury and Dr. John Melnyczuk co-founded S&J Nanochemicals in 2020.

With this license, S&J Nanochemicals will validate the commercial potential of the product by working with industry partners. The company recently worked with an international firm specializing in agricultural products to test its technology in field trials. These field trials were made possible thanks to support from a 2021 UTRF Maturation Grant awarded by UTRF.

“We had very good results from the field trials,” says Palchoudhury. “Compared to other fertilizers and the control, our product performed much better which was good. It’s a new product, so these results show that it’s efficient on a practical scale.”

This license agreement announcement underscores the value of new, dynamic innovations coming out of UTC and the support infrastructure that exists within UTC to help startups like S&J Nanochemicals thrive.

Jennifer Skjellum, Commercialization Counselor, works with UTC’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to promote, encourage and assist with intellectual property and research commercialization activities on campus. From helping researchers prepare for invention disclosures to launching an upcoming pitch competition for graduate students and faculty, Skjellum is excited about UTC’s work to create an invention pipeline that welcomes and supports all faculty researchers.

“There’s so much intellectual capacity at UTC with research being conducted across all departments. It’s been an exciting opportunity to get more researchers into the pipeline, increase the number of invention disclosures and figure out what are the tools and programs and resources that are best suited to help researchers at our campus,” says Skjellum. “One thing that I have learned is that there is not one recipe for success. It’s about understanding how I can bring the resources we have in our community to help UTC to get more traction in the commercialization process.”

“Commercialization is a long but worthy journey for research that has the potential to have lasting, positive impacts on the agricultural industry,” says UTRF Vice President Maha Krishnamurthy. “UTC’s innovation pipeline will only continue to grow in the coming years. UTRF is looking forward to future opportunities to help advance UTC’s innovations.”