Two research teams from the University of Louisville have been chosen to participate in a prestigious nationally competitive innovation program through the National Science Foundation.
NSF’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Teams program provides training and $50,000 in funding that helps university researchers translate the ideas they develop in the lab into new technology-backed startups. Participating teams participate in an intense two-month bootcamp to learn marketing, engage with industry, and engage with potential customers.
Two UofL projects have been chosen to participate in recent bootcamp cohorts:
- BioCaRGOSshort for Capture and Release Gels for Optimized Storage (bioCaRGOS), uses a new water-based stabilizer to allow storage of sensitive biological samples such as RNA, DNA or proteins at low temperatures for long periods of time , including during transport to remote locations. The project team includes: co-inventors Gautam Gupta and Rajat Chauhan, both at the JB Speed School of Engineering, and business mentor Jeff Cummins, who is also an entrepreneur-in-residence at UofL’s Office of Research and Innovation.
- RNAshort for Adaptive Robot Nursing Assistant, an artificially intelligent healthcare robot created to provide continuous patient monitoring and allow nurses to focus more on direct patient care by taking on some of their time-consuming tasks. The project team includes: co-inventors Dan Popa and Sumit Kumar Das, from engineering, and business mentor Mary Tapolsky, from the UofL Forcht Center for Entrepreneurship.
Chauhan of the BioCaRGOS team said the experience helped his team find an industry commercialization partner. They are currently seeking partners for an upcoming application of the NSF Partnerships for Innovation program, which enables NSF-supported projects like his to work with industry on research and development and accelerate the time to market of the technology.
“Vaccine stability (especially for COVID-19) remains a critical challenge and is the critical bottleneck for efficient delivery of cutting-edge mRNA-based vaccines to the current population,” said Chauhan, Chief of BioCaRGOS and postdoctoral researcher. “Our technology has the potential to advance vaccine delivery at room temperature, a feat that cannot be achieved currently.”
Teams must be nominated for the National I-Corps Boot Camp and must first complete a Regional I-Corps Site Program. The BioCARGOS and ARNA teams have both completed UofL’s I-Corps site program – part of UofL’s suite of prestigious Translational Research Grants, which also includes the UofL Coulter Translational Partnership, NIH KYNETIC and NSF AWARE:ACCESS. I-Corps at UofL requires successful participation in and completion of LaunchIt, UofL’s 10-week entrepreneurial boot camp.
“These programs support the commercialization of the work done by our researchers here at UofL,” said Jessica Sharon, UofL’s Director of Innovation Programs. “We are proud of the ARNA and BioCARGOS teams, and their work to accelerate the development of their innovations to meet unmet market needs.