CoMotion Innovation Gap Fund Awardees

The CoMotion Innovation Gap Fund has been helping UW research teams for more than a decade. Our mission is to fund and support projects with a high chance of making an impact but are unlikely to get there without gap funding. It helps technologies transition between the conclusion of academic research grants and achieving the level of development where they can attract seed-stage private investment.

Since 2005, over $15.6 million has been awarded to 325 teams in 70 different departments resulting in 102 new startups who have raised over $5 billion in investment. Awards have also resulted in 25 licenses to existing companies and 14 direct-to-user UW programs.

Spring 2022

This spring, six teams competing in life sciences and engineering received a full $50,000 award. In addition, two teams received a $50,000 BECU FinTech award, three teams received a $50,000 CoMotion-Population Health Award (funded by the UW Population Health Initiative and CoMotion), one team received a $20,000 award to attend the I-Corps NSF National program, and one team received a $10,000 customer discovery support award. Finally, one team was  chosen as the University of Washington nominee for the $150,000 Murdock Trust Award (funded by the Murdock Trust and CoMotion), which will be decided by September 2022. Learn more about these teams and the vital work they are doing below.

Principal Investigator (PI)
  • Sharon Kioko
Team Members
  • Daniel Mutembesa
Innovation Managers
  • Shamim Naigaga
Mentors
  • Neetika Bansal

Verity FiTech is a scalable digital credit information platform built to enable financiers and insurers to perform low-cost credit scoring and risk assessments on small micro-enterprises at scale. This will build trust and unlock equitable financial access for under-financed small businesses in emerging economies.

Principal Investigator (PI)
  • Tim Shehann
Team Members
  • Jeremy Hess
  • Alyssa Miller
Innovation Managers
  • Shamim Naigaga
Mentors
  • Yee Lee

Our innovation is CHaRT (Climate Health and Risk Tool), a modeling system and web platform that shows public health practitioners, community groups, and healthcare facility managers not only where health risks are, but also what drives those risks locally allowing users to more quickly and efficiently plan for and react to climate-driven health risks while taking socioeconomic equity goals into account.

Principal Investigator (PI)
  • Mari Winkler
Team Members
  • Bao Nguyen Quoc
Innovation Managers
  • Roï Eisenkot
Mentors
  • Mike Robinson

SeaO2 Farms is method to grow gigatonnes of microalgae offshore, at a fraction of the cost of land crops and without using arable land or fresh water while capturing massive amounts of atmospheric C02. This algal biomass can then be processed into carbon neutral fuel using existing techniques that are used to process sewer sludge into fuel for incinerators or provide carbon negative power when used with underground carbon capture power plants.

Principal Investigator (PI)
  • Sean Murphy
Team Members
  • Felicia Watson
  • Caroline Duncombe
  • Melanie Shears
Innovation Managers
  • Frieda Chan
Mentors
  • Teddy Johnson

New highly effective whole organism malaria vaccines have been developed but require multiple doses by IV administration making them impractical for the regions most impacted by malaria. Our innovation is an ultra-low volume microarray syringe adaptor for malaria vaccination allowing the highly effective whole organism malaria vaccines to be easily administered to the ideal place in the skin in a single dose.

Principal Investigator (PI)
  • Krystle Perez
Team Members
  • Manuja Sharma
  • Eric Seibel
Innovation Managers
  • Jennifer McCullar
Mentors
  • Johan Strand

Early identification of infants at risk of perinatal brain injury is critical and is done using blood pH measurements which are often not available in low-income countries due to high cost and lack of trained personnel. pHast Cam, utilizes a patch containing a pH sensitive dye and ubiquitous smartphone camera technology to determine blood pH within seconds.

Principal Investigator (PI)
  • Dayong Gao
Team Members
  • Shen Ren
  • Zhiquan Shu
Innovation Managers
  • Forest Bohrer
Mentors
  • George Gosieski

SMER is a fully automated single-mode electromagnetic resonance rewarming system for large-scale cryopreserved biomaterials ranging from sensitive cell suspension used in the next generation of immunotherapies to whole organs for transplantation.

Principal Investigator (PI)
  • Cody Schlenker
Team Members
  • Sarah Pristash
Innovation Managers
  • Forest Bohrer
Mentors
  • Mike Robinson

Apex Solar has developed a novel coating that is applied to solar cells for producing up to 10% more power potential, providing a path to reduce price/Watt and shrink footprint by incurring only 1% production cost increase.

Principal Investigator (PI)
  • Tom Matula
Team Members
  • Michael Pinch
  • Amy Swanson
  • Adam Maxwell
  • Cody Birkland
  • Ekaterina Kuznetsova
Innovation Managers
  • Lisa Norton
Mentors
  • Jonathan Kagle

The SonicBond process delivers acoustic energy to generate heat in a precise target zone using high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) allowing for bonding of parts without damage to nearby sensitive components such as electronics or batteries greatly simplifying the assembly process of new products as well as increasing energy efficiencies of bonding processes by up to 80%.

Principal Investigator (PI)
  • Jonathan Posner
Team Members
  • Michael Malone
  • Liam Sullivan
  • Austin Higgs
  • Emmanuel Pacheco
  • Joelle Tudor
  • Tova Weiss
Innovation Managers
  • Judy Bridges
Mentors
  • David Meller

CathConnect is developing a device that allows the standard urinary catheter to disconnect when pulled, protecting patients from urethral trauma and other injuries. The device is a separate accessory to the catheter and can be placed into existing catheter tubing.

Eric Seibel
Principal Investigator (PI)
  • Eric Seibel
Team Members
  • Brandon Lou
  • Gillian Pereira
  • Clara Black
  • Ziming Ye
  • James Park
Innovation Managers
  • Judy Bridges
Mentors
  • West Long

inSTENT Connection is developing a new stent for gastrointestinal (GI) anastomosis, where two segments of the intestine are joined after surgery. By using a novel structure incorporating resorbable microbarbs, anastomosis surgery is easier, faster with safer surgical connections that addresses leakage in ways that traditional methods, such as staples and sutures, cannot.

Principal Investigator (PI)
  • Jeffery Lipton
Team Members
  • Aman Garg
Innovation Managers
  • Judy Bridges
Mentors
  • Paul Pomeroy

Nimble Surgical is developing a novel controllable metamaterial-based catheter that, unlike existing catheters, easily navigates through challenging anatomies including beating hearts, to greatly reduce surgical times by up to 50%.

Principal Investigator (PI)
  • Robert Miyaoka
Team Members
  • Larry Pierce
Innovation Managers
  • Lisa Norton
Mentors
  • Chris Crane

We have developed a new nuclear imaging camera, Coded Detection, that has 5,000 times the sensitivity of current clinical nuclear imaging cameras enabling improved image quality and image clarity that promises to greatly improve the diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson’s Disease and many other conditions.

Principal Investigator (PI)
  • Soyoung Kang
Team Members
  • Taylor Juenke
  • Madalyn Hardy
  • Kevin Nguyen
  • Trixie Ip
  • Tiffany Tam
  • Andy Kim
  • Jonathan Posner
Innovation Managers
  • Lisa Norton
Mentors
  • Tom Kadavy

Current infusion needle sets are not inherently antimicrobial, requiring separate application of antimicrobial dressings to patients whose implanted ports are accessed. EZXS combines needles and dressings to create an all-in-one device that will ensure stable, accurate needle insertion to simplify implanted port access procedures for nurses and reduce the risk of infection for patients.

Principal Investigator (PI)
  • Per Reinhall
Team Members
  • Johanna Dickie
  • Jiani Guo
  • Zachary Burckhard
  • Jeffrey Hanlon
  • Patrick Tran
Innovation Managers
  • Lisa Norton
Mentors
  • Scott Ransom

NIMBUS is a mattress for neonatal incubators that uses a novel buckling system to dampen potentially damaging vibrations and impacts by over 40% to prevent potential injuring including intraventricular hemorrhaging.

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