Alphachromics was formed in 2010 to commercialize the electrochromic innovations developed in the lab of Dr. Greg Sotzing, Professor of organic and polymer chemistry in the Department of Chemistry and the Institute of Materials Science. The company’s low cost color-changing conductive polymers can be applied to products as diverse as energy efficient windows, tunable eyewear (goggles and sunglasses), and high performance switchable fabrics. The company recently secured funding from Connecticut Innovation’s Pre-Seed Fund.
The goal of Chondrogenics is to develop a stem cell-based treatment for cartilage repair and osteoarthritis. The company’s technology is based on a novel proprietary process for producing chondrogenic cells from stem cells, including induced pluripotent stem cells, developed by UConn Health Center faculty Dr. Caroline Dealy and colleagues. Funding for Chondrogenics’ R&D was initially provided by a UConn prototype award and is currently sourced through a $1.3 M grant from the State of Connecticut Stem Cell Initiative/Department of Public Health/Connecticut Innovations. This support is being used for preclinical assessment of this potential new therapy in preparation for eventual human trials. Chondrogenics is a UConn Ventures company, and a Connecticut Technology Council “Company to Watch”. (Mark Van Allen, President; Caroline Dealy, co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer). See News Release and Video.
Cornovus Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Dr. Bruce Liang, Director of the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center, in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health, has identified a new target and class of agents to treat cardiac failure. The technology, which has been proven in mouse models, delays the onset of heart failure after a heart attack or injury. The project has been awarded $75,000 for conducting canine studies. The tests are being conducted at New York Medical College, which has extensive experience working with canine models.
Dr. Robert Birge, Harold S. Schwenk Distinguished Professor of Biophysical Chemistry, is researching genetically engineered bacteriorhodopsin. Bacteriorhodopsin proteins generate an electrical pulse when photo-activated. The Birge Lab develops variants of the proteins and screens them to optimize their photochemical properties. The proteins are being used as the basis for an artificial retina. Dr. Birge has received $63,000 in funding from the Prototype Fund to develop prototype retinal implants for evaluation.
Natural Polymer Devices, Inc.
Dr. Sangamesh Kumbar, Ph.D., of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the UConn Health Center, in collaboration with several researchers in the Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Chemical, Materials and Biomolecular Engineering, has developed new materials for the repair and replacement of damaged hard tissues, such as bone. In the U.S. alone, more than 500,000 hip and knee replacements are performed and over a million fractures are treated each year.
New Ortho Polymers, Inc.
New Ortho Polymers, Inc. (NOP) uses polymer materials in orthodontic appliances developed by Drs. Charles Burstone and Jon Goldberg at UConn’s School of Dental Medicine. NOP is applying self-reinforced polymer material to create the first polymer-based, aesthetic arch wire for commercial use. The Company, which had funding of nearly $350,000 through an STTR grant from the National Institutes of Health and seed capital financing from Connecticut Innovations, recently entered into a license agreement with Ormco, a major orthodontic appliance company. See press release.
Renzulli Learning, LLC
Dr. Joe Renzulli and Dr. Sally Reis, of the School of Education’s Neag Center for Gifted Education & Talent Development at Storrs, have developed a series of tests and teaching materials to identify a student’s primary learning style, abilities, interests, and preferred modes of expression. Using this student profile as a guide, the Company’s enrichment activity search engine instantly matches every student’s strength and interest to a vast variety of relevant learning activities and resources, including virtual fieldtrips, real fieldtrips, creativity training, summer programs, books, projects, independent studies, and much more. The Company has also released a home edition called the Renzulli ScoreBooster (see Print Release). Renzulli Learning reported sales of close to $6 million in 2009. The company was acquired in 2010 by CompassLearning, a national leader in educational software for personalized learning. See additional News Article and website.
Synaptic Dynamics, Inc.
Based on the research of Dr. Ben Bahr, Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Neurotoxicology, and Dr. Dennis Wright, Associate Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, the Company plans to develop drugs that promote the clearance of protein accumulations at neural synapses found in Alzheimer’s Disease. The project has secured $65,000 in prototype funding and is in the process of establishing proof-of-concept. The Company has also been awarded a $162,000 STTR grant from the NIH/National Institute on Aging. See news article.
Vestaron Corporation (formerly Venomix, Inc.)
Vestaron Corporation (formerly Venomix, Inc.) is based on the work of Dr. Glenn King, formerly at UConn’s Department of Molecular, Microbial and Structural Biology. Dr. King’s research focuses on the use of spider venoms as a source of natural insect toxins. Vestaron, using proprietary targets with little or no vertebrate toxicity, develops new insecticidal compounds using high-throughput screening and rational design methods. These products are targeted at the agricultural, specialty non-crop, and animal health markets, which have a combined market value (for insecticides only) of $15 billion. The Company has a cooperative research agreement with Chemtura Corporation, a $3 billion specialty chemical company. Vestaron has completed a Series A financing with SWMF Life Science Venture Fund, LP for $2.25 million, and a Series A1 financing with Open Prairie Ventures for $2.5 million. The Company was recently named a Michigan top 50 company to watch. See Press Release, News Article and website.