CoMotion announces fall 2020 Innovation Gap Fund winners

Written by Simone Stapley / December 14, 2020

Winning innovations range from addressing neonatal dehydration, coffee ground-based water treatment, 3D printing performance enhancement, and RNA-based biosensing technology

Over 20 University of Washington research teams presented their innovations to a panel of judges for the fall CoMotion Innovation Gap Fund, held during a three-day virtual event in November. The projects ranged from rapid medical imaging, toxic contaminant cleanup, workplace injury prevention, and protein design applications that treat the deadliest complications of COVID-19.

In addition to advancing research and development, teams will also focus on business development-related activities such as customer discovery and market research. Some of the teams plan to license their innovations to existing companies while others have opted to pursue spinning off into their own companies. Regardless of their paths to commercialization, all winners have either secured patents or filed provisional applications. Several teams have taken advantage of other CoMotion programs and opportunities such as I-Corps and CoMotion DubPitch.

The CoMotion Innovation Gap Fund is a partnership between CoMotion and the Washington Research Foundation. The fund, which awards grants of up to $50,000 each, is open to any UW innovator who has disclosed their technology to CoMotion, supports research that could attract seed-stage investment or make a societal impact, and which has reached the conclusion of academic research grants. This cycle of the Innovation Gap Fund also included a funding track from the Washington Entrepreneurial Research Evaluation and Commercialization Hub (WE-REACH), a partnership that provides teaching and funding tools to accelerate the development of therapeutic, device, and diagnostic products to address significant challenges in health. CoMotion provides funding and program support to WE-REACH in sourcing, selecting, and ongoing guidance of the project teams.

See below for a brief overview of the winning projects.

Team Lead: Behnoosh Parsa

Also known as Smart Ergo, this innovation utilizes computer vision and machine learning to replace the current time consuming and error-prone approaches to ergonomics risk assessment for retail and manufacturing entities.

Team Lead: Brian Pinkard

Aquagga’s patented hydrothermal reactor technology applies high temperatures and pressures to provide end-of-life destruction of toxic contaminants.

Team Lead: Jessica Ray

This coffee biochar helps utility & municipal stormwater management leads improve urban stormwater quality, meet environmental regulator demands, and protect human and environmental health by leveraging an abundant food waste.

Team Lead: Lih Lin

This proprietary micropatterning method with innovative light-emitting materials can lower the cost of next-generation displays with ultrahigh resolution by greatly decreasing the number of processing steps in micro-LED display manufacturing.

Team Lead: Weichao Yuwen

A platform that delivers on-demand, tailored, and empathetic support to family caregivers. A hybrid approach that combines A.I and real-life coaching support in self-learning system.

Team Lead: Dan Wang
This innovation autonomously corrects the 3D manufacturing process on the fly.

Team Lead: Cindy Lin

A simple, free & accessible app tailored exercise plans & personalized motivation that helps manage medical conditions & improve health as a patient-provider.

… Fluid Regulator Device for Resource-limited Setting

Team Lead: Gregory Valentine

A lifesaving medical device built around affordability and accessibility to help solve neonatal dehydration.

Team Lead: James Carothers

A new RNA biosensor screening technology for detecting highly productive microbes 1 million times faster than conventional approaches, while using existing equipment.

Team Lead: Rajiv Saigal

Direct Dose is an implanted device, placed concurrently with standard practice insertion of the surgical drain, which greatly reduces opioid dosage through patient-controlled local delivery of anesthetic post-spine surgery.

Team Lead: Abbie Sawyer

Smart Individualized Near-face Extended Wear Mask with a perimeter EHD filterand adjustable distance to the face.

Researchers interested in applying are encouraged to contact our Innovation Development team to see if their project’s stage and goals make them a good candidate for the Fund.