UArizona Reports Record Number of Startups for Fiscal Year 2020

Chris Hessenius and Mahmoud Fallahi

Chris Hessenius (left), assistant research professor in the James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences, and Mahmoud Fallahi, professor of optical sciences, are involved in several university startups. They are pictured here with the tunable laser they invented, now licensed to startup Wavelength Unlimited Technologies.

Paul Tumarkin/Tech Launch Arizona

Based on the innovations of world-class entrepreneurial researchers, the University of Arizona launched 19 startups in fiscal year 2020.

Not only was this a record number of startups in a single year for the university, it also brings the total number of startups created through the work of Tech Launch Arizona – the office that commercializes inventions stemming from university innovation – to over 100 since the office began operating in late 2012.

"This accomplishment is the result of strategic collaborations between inventors and the right mentors, experienced entrepreneurs, and other community collaborators," said Douglas Hockstad, assistant vice president of TLA.

"Research conducted at the University of Arizona aims to create positive societal impacts, and supporting startups are one highly effective way we achieve that," said  Elizabeth "Betsy" Cantwell, senior vice president for research and innovation. "I’m grateful to Doug Hockstad and the entire TLA team for continuing to drive innovation and impact through the commercialization of UArizona inventions."

"One of our most important tasks as a land-grant university is to ensure our innovation serves people everywhere," said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. "TLA is a vital component of this part of our mission, and the number of startups and University of Arizona inventions we bring to the public is indicative of the impact our new ideas here can have."

According to Hockstad, technology licenses to nascent startups represent less than 20% on average of the total number of licenses that TLA executes each year.

"However, they are often the most highly recognized measure of success," Hockstad said. "There are many other measures on which we continue to focus to ensure that all the innovations we see in a year have the opportunity to have impact."

Along with its cohort of startups, TLA filed 347 patents, executed a total of 95 licenses and options for UArizona technologies, and received a record 87 issued patents between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020.

This past year's cohort of 19 startups – new companies that were founded to commercialize UArizona inventions – include:

  • Auxilium Technology Group LLC brings to market products for maximizing the valuable metals recovered from mined ore and minimizes negative environmental impacts and costs. Invented by Moe Momayez, associate professor of mining and geological engineering; Krishna Muralidharan, associate professor of materials science and engineering; Douglas Loy, professor of materials science and engineering and member of the BIO5 Institute; graduate student Pratish Rao and undergraduate student Yen Thi Kim Do, all of the College of Engineering.
  • Cancer Cures Worldwide LLC develops novel cancer treatment protocols utilizing low-dose chemotherapy and a stem cell fusion model of carcinogenesis. Invented by Tom Tsang, former associate investigator, and David Harris, professor in the College of Medicine – Tucson and member of the BIO5 Institute, with Xianghui He of Tainjin Medical University and co-inventor Brian Pipes.
  • CMLaser Technologies Inc. develops a mid-infrared supercontinuum laser to be used as a ballistic missile defensive countermeasure in military and other aircraft. Invented by professor Nasser Peyghambarian, adjunct professor Seppo Honkanen and adjunct research professor Axel Schülzgen, all in the James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences, with Jacques Albert of Carleton University.
  • CThru Lasers Inc. develops multiple laser technologies – including multicolor-multiwavelength lasers, visible lasers and near-infrared lasers – all of which offer greater capabilities, increased efficiencies and lower costs than currently available technologies. Invented by professor Mahmoud Fallahi, research professor Chris Hessenius and assistant research scientist Michal Lukowski, all from the College of Optical Sciences.
  • DeUVe Photonics Inc., whose deep-ultraviolet, short-wavelength technology will address an unmet need in the 230-400 nanometer wavelength range, is useful in areas such as defense, mining and semiconductors.
  • ElectroSonix LLC brings to market an acoustoelectric, image-guided ultrasound therapy for cardiac applications. Invented by Russell Witte, professor and BIO5 member; Yexian Qin, postdoctoral research associate; Hsin-Wu Tseng, associate research scientist; and Charles Ingram, senior research specialist, all of the College of Medicine – Tucson, and Chet Preston, a graduate student in biomedical engineering.
  • Fontana Systems LLC offers a closed-loop, comfort-cost thermostat and monitor, invented by associate professors Jonathan Sprinkle and Susan Lysecky and former doctoral student in electrical and computer engineering Xiao Qin, all of the College of Engineering.
  • Gen3 LLC develops a concentrated photovoltaic technology. Developed by Regents Professor of Astronomy Roger Angel and Brian Cuerden, principal engineer at Steward Observatory.
  • GenetiRate 2 LLC offers a method for measuring skeletal muscle metabolic rates to determine and improve selection and feed efficiency of production animals. Invented by Benjamin Renquist, associate professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a member of the BIO Institute.
  • Grafite Logic Inc. offers a nanoarchitecture for graphite electrode preparation and electrolyte compositions for next-generation, high-performance battery storage solutions. Invented by a College of Optical Sciences team that included Palash Gangopadhyay, former adjunct research professor; Jayan Thomas, former adjunct research professor; Peyghambarian; and adjunct professor Andre Persoons, in collaboration with Sujung Feilen, a former intern.
  • Hipokratiz LLC commercializes a solution to reduce appointment no-shows in medical practices using systems thinking principles. Invented by Vinodh Subramanian, 2019 graduate with a masters in systems and industrial engineering, and Robert Lepore, director of the Engineering Management Program, both of the College of Engineering.
  • MediCarbone Inc. offers a noninvasive method of treatment for bone fractures using carbon fiber reinforcement. Invented by Hamid Saadatmanesh, former professor of civil and architectural engineering and mechanics in the College of Engineering, in collaboration with Dr. Mehrnoosh Zarkoob.
  • Pierce Allen Pharmaceuticals Inc. launched to commercialize novel bio-based medical therapies for human mental health. Invented by Regents Professor Emeritus Victor Hruby in the College of Science, and Minying Cai, research professor in the College of Science and a member of the BIO5 Institute, in collaboration with Caurnel Morgan, formerly of Texas A&M University, and Horst Kessler of Technische Universität München.
  • QScint Imaging Solutions LLC brings to market a single-particle quantitative digital autoradiography system for alpha-emitting isotopes. Invented by Regents Professor Emeritus Harrison Barrett, research professor Bradford Barber, professor Lars Furenlid and adjunct professor Brian Miller, all of the College of Medicine – Tucson and the College of Optical Sciences.
  • SaiOx Inc. was founded to bring the benefits of heliox to those experiencing difficulty breathing via a small, portable respiratory assist device. Invented by Dr. Sairam Parthasarathy, professor in the College of Medicine – Tucson and a member of the BIO5 Institute, and Regents Professor Dr. Marvin Slepian of the College of Medicine – Tucson and the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the College of Engineering and a member of the BIO5 Institute and Sarver Heart Center.
  • SibylSoft Inc. develops a system for automated information security risk management. Invented by Sonya Lowry, a contractor with University Information Technology Services and a former UArizona employee.
  • TheraCea Pharma LLC develops convenient fluorine-18 radiolabeling of biomolecular agents. Invented by Mark Pagel, former College of Medicine – Tucson professor, now professor of cancer imaging systems at Rice University; Iman Daryaei, who graduated with a Ph.D. in chemistry and biochemistry; and Abigail Shepard, a graduate student in the College of Pharmacy.
  • ThrooHealth LLC offers both a platform and application for health care management, integrating big data and virtual reality to improve clinical outcomes. Invented by Slepian, Fuad Rahman and Arijit Mitra of Apurba Technologies, and Syed Hossainy, corporate science officer at Imperative Care and former adjunct professor of bioengineering.
  • Wavelength Unlimited Technologies Inc. commercializes a tunable, pulsed mid-IR VECSEL laser for use in medical, commercial and military applications. Invented by Fallahi, Hessenius and Lukowski of the College of Optical Sciences.

"We are grateful to everyone who has helped us make this kind of an impact," Hockstad said. "We absolutely can't effectively do this work without the engagement of friends and partners across the innovation ecosystem."

Since the technologies are so varied and the business possibilities are so wide, he said, TLA engages a large extended network of technology experts, investors and entrepreneurs from around the nation to help envision and develop successful commercial pathways for UArizona inventions.

"That said," he emphasized, "we're always looking for interested, passionate, knowledgeable people who want to be on the absolute cutting edge of tomorrow's innovations to connect with us."