The University of California, Davis, enabled the foundation of 14 commercial startups during the past fiscal year — matching the largest number of new ventures based on UC Davis technologies to be launched in a single year.
The new companies include ventures in medicine, food and sensor technology. MUSE Microscopy, for example, plans to revolutionize the way pathologists identify disease. The company’s technology, jointly developed with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (co-managed by UC), has the potential to save pathologists time and money.
Examining patient tissue under a microscope is critical for research and diagnosing diseases, but preparing samples for slides is costly and time-consuming, taking hours to days. MUSE has developed an alternative: a method that uses short-wavelength ultraviolet light and fluorescent dyes to generate high-definition images of tissue features without the drawbacks of traditional slide preparation.
Another example: Logos4n has developed a method to identify individuals’ genomes with high precision, as well as measure genetic changes from development, stress and aging.
Kiho Cho, Logos4n founder and chief science officer, said he sees a wide range of possible applications for the company’s genetic surveillance protocols and algorithms — applications such as animal and plant breeding, cell and tissue typing, fundamental cell biology and genetics, and judicial forensics. He also noted several medical applications, including genome toxicology (how people’s genomes respond to drugs and environmental toxins), monitoring of radiation therapy, and marker discovery to help diagnose and study diseases.
“Our genetics surveillance technologies have opened the pathway to new understandings of the dynamic genome landscape in biology in general and to individual diagnostics and treatments of some of the most challenging medical conditions in our society,” Cho said.
Several other companies are developing medical applications, such as: Sapience Therapeutics, new therapies for high-mortality cancers; AccenGen Therapeutics, new anti-inflammatory drugs; Vizzario, developing a portable noninvasive screening tool for diagnosing traumatic brain injury; and VenoSense, a wearable device for managing vein disorders.
UC Davis startups also are tackling important societal problems. Foodful.ly, for example, has created an app to reduce America’s massive food waste problem, by alerting users when food they have brought home from the grocery store is about to go bad and providing recipes to use the food items in question, rather than let them go to waste.
Innovation part of University of California culture
UC Davis and all UC campuses are powerhouses when it comes to innovation.
In July, the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association ranked the University of California No. 1 in the world among universities based on granted U.S. patents. And, according to a report by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, UC researchers and entrepreneurs have spawned hundreds of new companies, contributing more than $20 billion to California’s economy.
This past year, UC Davis innovators were issued 35 U.S. and 29 foreign patents. The university also executed 98 copyright licenses, processed 233 records of inventions, filed 200 U.S. and 22 foreign patents, and negotiated 51 licenses and 799 material transfer agreements.
In total, 51 startups, including the 14 new companies for fiscal year 2015-16, have been formed at UC Davis during the past five years. Of the 85 startups that launched in 2015 based on UC research, 13 were from UC Davis.
UC Davis Venture Catalyst supports campus entrepreneurs
Venture Catalyst, within the Technology Management and Corporate Relations division of the UC Davis Office of Research, provides a range of services and resources to help campus inventors and entrepreneurs turn their technologies into companies focused on developing products or services that benefit society.
Venture Catalyst guides researchers through the startup phase including company formation, establishing the appropriate corporate structure, creating connections to mentors and commercial service providers, and provides access to startup incubation facilities.
“This last year, we have seen Venture Catalyst and our collaborative partners support the creation and foundational development of a new cohort of exciting startups based on the novel and compelling research of our faculty, students and staff,” said Dushyant Pathak, associate vice chancellor of research, who also serves as the executive director of Venture Catalyst. “Our startups, with their focus on commercializing effective solutions for pressing societal needs, represent one of the ways in which UC Davis fulfills its mission to serve the greater good of California, the nation and the world.”
Venture Catalyst works closely with campus and local community resources, including its companion units, InnovationAccess and the Office of Corporate Relations, the university’s Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and local and regional drivers of economic development to support the translation of university research into economic impact.
Venture Catalyst also provides grants to help campus entrepreneurs demonstrate commercial proof-of-concept and the feasibility of their market impact.
UC Davis startups fiscal year 2015-16
- A-Chip — Microfluidic-based diagnostic tool for evaluating inflammatory cell activation and assessing a patient’s risk for a repeat heart attack.
- AccenGen Therapeutics — Novel anti-inflammatories for indications with the highest unmet needs, such as sinusitis, pain, cardiovascular, respiratory indications and cancer.
- Amaryllis Nucleics — More efficient RNA-sequencing library synthesis for diagnostics, pharmaceutical development and food security.
- Biomass Liquefaction Technologies — Innovative process for energy-efficient high solids liquefaction of biomass.
- Foodful.ly — App that integrates with grocery store purchases to alert users when food they have brought home is about to go bad. The app provides recipes for the food items in question.
- GlycoHub — Highly effective enzymatic approaches for high-yield and cost-effective production of complex glycans.
- Izotropic Corporation — Breast computer tomography for early cancer detection and diagnosis.
- LOGOS4n — High-resolution genetics, genome and DNA surveillance technologies, to be applied to precision diagnostics and prognostics.
- MUSE Microscopy Inc. — Novel slide-free microscopy technology for research and diagnostic applications.
- Protein Architects — Beta solenoid proteins as “molecular Lego” for applications in self-assembly of nanoparticle-based devices and materials.
- Sapience Therapeutics — Novel therapeutics for major unmet medical needs, particularly high-mortality cancers.
- SensIT — Microelectromechanical-based chemical sensors and information systems.
- VenoSense — Wearable sensing platform for management of chronic venous disorder.
- Vizzario — A noninvasive portable screening methodology for diagnosing traumatic brain Injury.