U of M Venture Center launches record 18 startup companies in FY17

August 16, 2017

MHTA — The University of Minnesota announced that it launched a record 18 startup companies over the past year based on discoveries and inventions by its researchers.

Launching new companies through the Office for Technology Commercialization’s Venture Center is one of the primary ways the University brings cutting-edge research beyond the lab and into the marketplace. The new startups, 16 of which are based in Minnesota, will help fuel the economy and contribute to the public good, both in Minnesota and in regions across the globe.

“It’s our mission, and part of our responsibility as a land-grant University, to help the great research minds at the U of M navigate the path from lab to market,” said Russ Straate, associate director of the Venture Center. “We are excited by the potential these 18 new companies hold to improve society by bringing research-based solutions to the public in a wide range of fields, from energy storage to agriculture technology.”

In addition to fostering new discoveries, the University strives to develop technology resulting from its research and transition it to the market. The University provides collaborative research spaces, cutting-edge lab equipment, and a range of workshops and programs that support entrepreneurship and business development.

Patrick Donahue, building products research program manager at the U of M Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute, worked with the Venture Center to launch a startup company in April around his novel model for manufacturing ready-to-assemble housing products. Carponentry, based in Duluth, aims to build prefabricated houses for families in rural areas that are affordable, energy-efficient, and made of high-quality materials.

“Developing a model for a ready-to-assemble affordable housing option is something I’ve been working on for the last 15 years,” said Donahue, who is also Carponentry’s founder and interim CEO. “When it came to launching Carponentry, Russ Straate and his team took the initiative and responsibility to lead me through the whole startup process. I couldn’t have done it without their guidance.”

Since its founding in 2006, the Venture Center has launched a total of 119 startups, 78 percent of which are currently active. The majority of the startups, 79 percent, are based in Minnesota, with the rest spread between 14 other states across the U.S. and four other countries. Together, the 119 companies have generated approximately $400 million in outside investment.

The 18 new startup companies are:

Aerem (MN) — Advanced gas particulate filter system for vehicles to address stringent emissions requirements, such as those in China.

Antibiotic Alternatives (MN) — Novel antimicrobial agents that thwart infection by augmenting the production of naturally occurring antimicrobial proteins in mucosal epithelial cells.

Carponentry (MN) — Unique residential housing product for the single-family detached home market.

Cell Therapy Solutions (MN) — Device that reduces cell loss, processing time and labor costs for multiple types of preserved cells.

Cleanair-CARE LLP (MN) — Renewable, energy-efficient method for cleaning large amounts of outside air in urban settings.

Ensor Inc. (CA) — Battery chemistry and manufacturing process for a silicon dominant-based anode that will triple the anode energy density and provide minimal loss in capacity retention.

enVerde LLC (MN) — Converts various solid biomass components to syngas, used to make synthetic natural gas, ammonia, methanol, and other chemicals.

Farm Vision Technologies Inc. (MN) — Imaging software that works with existing drones and their imaging technology to provide farmers a view on crops and to aid in preparation for harvesting.

General Probiotic (MN) — Producer of probiotics for farm animals that fight gastrointestinal infections, such as E. coli and salmonella.

MerTron (MN) — A technology that captures mercury when a human body is cremated, preventing mercury from escaping into the atmosphere.

OX2 Therapeutics (MN) — A highly effective treatment against solid-tumor cancers.

R5VR (MN) — Software interfaces and service that take architectural drawings and create a virtual reality experience.

Resynergi (CA/WA) — Converts waste plastic to oil using microwave pyrolysis technology.

Sironix Renewables (MN) — Combines plant-based ingredients into functional chemicals for use in creating safer products, including laundry detergent and agricultural pesticides.

Soundly (MN) — Simple, noninvasive way to reduce snoring using a smartphone app.

Sustainalytics (MN) — Assists cities and communities in assessing environmental and social impact of infrastructure projects.

Turing Tumble, LLC (MN) — Educational gaming company teaching children the first principles of how to code software using a mechanical computer.

VirtusAero (MN) — Support for corporate, government, and academic users of US3D, software that models heat flows at supersonic flight speeds for research, military, and commercial applications.

For more information on the Venture Center or to see a full list of startups launched through the center, visit z.umn.edu/OTCVentureCenter.

See an infographic of the Venture Center’s 119 startups.

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