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The Nanotechnology Institute™ Awards $375K for Technology Commercialization

7th Mar 2013

PHILADELPHIA, PA (www.nanotechinstitute.org) – The Nanotechnology Institute™ (NTI), the region’s first multi-institutional partnership created to accelerate nanotechnology commercialization and company formation, awarded a total of $375K to five university-based technology commercialization projects.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University created the NTI in 2000 to coalesce the region’s efforts around nanotechnology.  Today, the NTI has more than 800 Intellectual Property assets under management, and has attracted more than $280M in public and private investment to the region.  In the past four years alone, NTI-funded technology has helped create 30+ companies, including Vascular Magnetics and Graphene Frontiers; and over 50 technology licenses have been executed to companies including QLIDA, Vergrandis, Eqalix and Nelum Sciences.

The new projects were funded through NTI’s Program to Support Translational Research Fund (PSTR), fueling the research of commercially feasible technology to move from concept into enterprise development.

“The projects funded this year reflect the successful integration of nanotechnology into all technology sectors: sensors, energy storage, advanced materials, medical devices and diagnostics,” said Anthony P. Green, Ph.D., Vice President of Technology Commercialization: Life Sciences for Ben Franklin, and Ben Franklin Director for the NTI.

Newly Funded Projects (Awarded $75K each):

Biomolecular Functionalization of Large-Area Graphene for Programmable Ligand Detection: A.T. Charlie Johnson, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

The Johnson Group is partnering with Graphene Frontiers, LLC to develop and commercialize new families of chemical sensors based on graphene coupled to engineered biomolecules. These chemical detection systems will factor in the transformation to a “smart society” where integrated sensor systems are used in medical diagnostics, homeland security, and environmental monitoring.  The chemical sensors will be orders of magnitude more sensitive than current technologies, at a much lower cost.

Highly Conductive Nanostructured Membranes for Batteries: Yossef Elabd, Ph.D., Drexel University; and Karen Winey, Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania

This project will produce polymerized ionic liquid block copolymers as solid-state polymer electrolytes for lithium ion batteries. Replacing liquid-based electrolytes in lithium ion batteries can alleviate many cost, safety, and stability concerns and is arguably the most attractive new technology for rechargeable electric power sources.

Nanoscale Toughening of Epoxy Resins Using Bio-based Additives:
Giuseppe R. Palmese, Ph.D., Drexel University

The goal of this project is to develop bio-based additives for toughening epoxy thermosetting resins, used to strengthen products include electric windmills. These additives are based on the addition products of triglycerides with fatty acids and other reactive moieties resulting in chemical structures having specific molecular weight, functionality, and solubility that can be tuned to control the formation of spherical BR nano-domains during cure.

Point of Testing Molecular Detection of Pathogens in Food:
Haim H. Bau, Ph.D. and Changchun Liu, Ph.D, University of Pennsylvania

Foodborne illnesses are among the most commonly encountered diseases in the US and worldwide, with a significant health and economic cost. The UPenn group will develop an inexpensive, rapid, disposable, nucleic acid based platform for in situ detection of pathogens in food from “farm to fork.”

Nanoengineered Coatings for Preventing Catheter Related Bloodstream Infections: Russell Composto, Ph.D. and David M. Eckmann, Ph.D, MD, University of Pennsylvania, and Noreen Hickok, Ph,.D. Thomas Jefferson University

This project will demonstrate that nanoengineered coatings can prevent/inhibit catheter related bloodstream infections via a novel two-step defense mechanism. The technology is based on combining the inherent bacteria resistance of naturally occurring polymers with a pH dependent release of antimicrobial agents at the location of infection.

NTI is a novel program that has succeeded in removing barriers to innovation, entrepreneurship and the commercialization of university research. The NTI addresses these barriers through completely new thinking and new structures, uniquely combining: (1) core public investment of funds carefully managed by a leadership team that integrates faculty, economic development experts, and technology transfer officials; (2) multi-university participation through a novel, comprehensive IP-pooling and revenue-sharing strategy; (3) strategically-targeted grants to universities and loans to small businesses that promotes faculty-industry collaboration and prioritizes university IP with commercial potential; (4) strong emphasis on interdisciplinary, regional strengths, and high quality research; (5) recruitment of commercialization experts in oversight and program review, and (6) extensive outreach, networking, information sharing, and marketing efforts.



About Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA

Celebrating our 30th Anniversary, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania is a national, award winning organization for Stimulating Entrepreneurial Potential, through entrepreneurship, technology and innovation.  Ben Franklin grows technology companies and partnerships through Capital, Knowledge and Networks that help innovative enterprises compete in the global marketplace, generating wealth and supporting regional economic growth.  Ben Franklin has invested more than $165 million to grow more than 1,750 regional enterprises, across all areas of technology.  It has launched university/industry partnerships that accelerate scientific discoveries to commercialization. The Ben Franklin Technology Partners is an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and is funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority.

For additional information, please visit www.sep.benfranklin.org, Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter.

Jaron J. Rhodes
Manager, Marketing and Communications
(215) 972-6700, ext. 3214

Nanotechnology Commercialization in Pennsylvania

“Across the world, the competition to find the next great scientific advancement continues to grow… as  a competitor in the global marketplace, it is Pennsylvania’s responsibility to give our universities, companies and partners the best opportunties to be on the forefront of these advancements.”

–The Honorable Edward G. Rendell
Governor of Pennsylvania