CoMotion announces 2015 Innovation Fund awardees

Written by CLARE LAFOND / July 6, 2015

Each year the CoMotion Innovation Fund awards grants to innovative projects with promising impact. By providing up to $40,000 per project and an additional $10,000 for business development milestones, the CoMotion Innovation Fund helps technologies get across the gap between the products of academic research grants and the development needed to attract seed stage investment. CoMotion helps assemble a support team of business, IP, technical and startup experts for each project’s continued development.

Project teams competing for funding pitch to a panel of CoMotion and WRF staff, senior executives and venture capitalists, who rank projects by market opportunity and likelihood that CoMotion Innovation Fund support will influence the probability of commercial success.

This year’s recipients of the CoMotion Innovation Fund, formerly called the Commercialization Gap Fund, include 11 technology projects, ten in the Life Sciences and one in engineering. Each received $50K for one year.

Life Sciences

Baby Steps: Timely intervention often makes all the difference. How to connect all the data dots, people and resources is the challenge. The Baby Steps platform is just such a connector. For now, the focus is on connecting children services to families of young children who’ve just determined they need the support for early childhood development. The medium is family-friendly social media. The program is a research-based ecosystem of interactive technology that engages parents for long-term tracking of child development and efficiently connects them to early intervention resources. (Research team of Julie A. Kientz, associate professor, Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering)

Long-lasting Protection from HIV: By using a simple intravenous therapy, Professor Andre Lieber and team are developing a gene editing approach aimed at providing life-long protection of all blood cell lineages that are potential HIV targets. (Research team of Andre Lieber, professor, Department of Medical Genetics)

10-Minute Test for STD Checks: Researchers in Medicine and Mechanical Engineering are developing the first accurate, inexpensive point-of-care diagnostic for chlamydia and gonorrhea. (Research team of Jonathan Posner, associate professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Matthew Thompson, Family Medicine, and Babak Moghadam, CoMotion Innovation Fellow)

Implantable Eye Sensor: UW engineers have designed a passive sensor that could be placed permanently in a person’s eye to monitor glaucoma by continuously tracking hard-to-measure changes in eye pressure. The sensor would be embedded with an artificial lens during cataract surgery and would detect pressure changes instantaneously, then transmit the data wirelessly using radio frequency waves. (Research team of Karl Böhringer, professor, Department of Electrical Engineering and Department of Bioengineering)

Aquarium Lab in the Cloud: The Aquarium Laboratory operating system enables biotechnology labs to quickly and easily develop, scale and share highly reproducible, experimental workflows and dramatically increase lab productivity. (Research team of Eric Klavins, associate professor, Department of Electrical Engineering, and adjunct associate professor, Department of Bioengineering and Department of Computer Science and Engineering)

Personalized Care Pathway Finder: Frequent hospital readmissions from chronic conditions cost more than $26 billion dollars annually and are often avoidable. The ChroniRisk machine learning framework predicts such avoidable readmissions to continuously improve quality of life and save costs. (Research team of Ankur Teredesai, professor, Institute of Technology, UW Tacoma)

Dirt-Cheap Proteins in Minutes: SiliCar9 Affinity Chromatography is redefining protein purification with low-cost, environmentally-friendly kits to enable Life Science researchers to quickly and easily purify recombinant proteins produced by genetic engineering. (Research team of François Baneyx, professor and chair, Department of Chemical Engineering)

Fountain of Tooth: Fountain of Tooth hopes to become the premier mesenchymal stem cell banking company by using priority technology to stabilize and maintain harvested stem cells from teeth. (Research team of Hannele Ruohola-Baker, professor, Department of Biochemistry, associate director, Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine)

Tafazzin Enzyme Replacement Therapy: This research project focuses on developing a disease-modifying therapy for the treatment of Barth Syndrome, a devastating and rare inherited disorder. (Research team of Michael Chin, associate professor, Department of Medicine, and Harold T. Dodge-John L. Locke Chair in Cardiovascular Medicine)

Altpep: This research project focuses on obtaining critical proof of concept data for rationally designed peptides that can stop the harmful changes of the body’s normal proteins into a state that’s linked to widespread diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and Lou Gehrig’s disease. The synthetic molecule blocks these proteins as they shift from their normal state into an abnormally folded form by targeting a toxic intermediate phase. The discovery of a protein blocker could lead to ways to diagnose and even treat a large swath of diseases that are hard to pin down and rarely have a cure. (Research team of Valerie Daggett, professor, Department of Bioengineering)


Dynomak Fusion Reactor Concept: UW scientists have designed a concept for a fusion reactor that, when scaled up to the size of a large electrical power plant, would cost the same as a new coal-fired plant with similar electrical output. It would displace conventional energy sources such as coal, natural gas, and fission. Dynomak Fusion Reactor is a safe, zero-carbon emitting solution that has a nearly limitless fuel source and is economically competitive. (Research team of Thomas Jarboe, professor, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and adjunct professor, Department of Physics)