Ohio Third Frontier grants support two UA start-up companies
Two University of Akron start-up companies are the recipients of grants from the Ohio Third Frontier Commission.
RooSense and Akron PolyEnergy each received $100,000 from the Ohio Third Frontier Technology Validation and Start-up Fund (TVSF), which provides grants to Ohio institutions of higher education and other nonprofit research institutions. The commission on Nov. 21 awarded a total of $900,000 to seven start-up companies to develop innovative products.
RooSense LLC is a start-up company based on research from the Department of Chemical, Biomolecular, and Corrosion Engineering in UA’s College of Engineering. RooSense was founded in December 2017 to commercialize new wearable fabric sensors for health and fitness applications that can monitor hydration and lactatic acid levels in real time. Chief technology officer and co-founder Dr. Chelsea Monty-Bromer, an associate professor at UA, began working with health sensors in 2010 while developing a fabric-based temperature sensor for use in prosthetic sockets. President and co-founder Dr. Hanieh Ghadimi, worked as a postdoctoral researcher at UA with Monty-Bromer. In this capacity, Ghadimi worked on developing fabric sensors for monitoring health parameters at the surface of the skin.
Akron PolyEnergy Inc. designs, develops and commercializes new polymer-based solutions for a wide range of energy applications, including energy storage and transmission as well as novel and emerging energy products. The company is licensing a polymer binder material that addresses many pain points with lithium ion batteries from UA. The novel battery binder material allows for the use of higher concentrations of silicon in a battery anode leading to a 300% increase in specific energy capacity in current prototypes and a theoretical increase of up to 1,000% as the technology is further developed. This would enable longer lasting batteries for use in consumer electronics, as well as lighter weight batteries for automotive and aerospace applications. The company was co-founded by Dr. Yu Zhu, a professor of polymer science in UA’s College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering.
The TVSF funding supports companies that are in the process of licensing technology from a university, hospital, or nonprofit research institution to demonstrate that the licensed technology is commercially viable. TVSF funding can be spent on activities such as advanced prototyping and testing or scaling up production. RooSense and Akron PolyEnergy developed prototypes of their technologies using funds awarded by the University of Akron Research Foundation’s Spark Fund, which was underwritten by UARF and Ohio Third Frontier.
“These Ohio Third Frontier Technology Validation and Start-up Fund Phase 2 awards are a natural extension of the excellent prototyping work done by faculty and students at UA,” said Elyse Ball, UARF assistant counsel and project manager.
UA began submitting to TVSF in 2012. Since then, UA labs have received 16 Phase 1 awards totaling more than $1 million. (Phase 1 awards support early stage prototyping and testing.) Also during that time, 11 Phase 2 awards totaling more than $1.3 million were awarded to support privately owned start-up companies that are licensing University technology.
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