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ASU showcases faculty startups to Silicon Valley investors

May 10, 2011

Arizona Technology Enterprises (AzTE), the exclusive intellectual property management and technology transfer organization of Arizona State University, today joined with the tech transfer offices of Caltech, UCLA and USC to host Head Start(up) 2011, a half-day conference giving Silicon Valley investors a look at some of the universities’ most promising startups and venture-ready technologies.

“The commercialization of university research generates new jobs, new companies and even entire new industries,” said Augie Cheng, AzTE’s managing director. “The startups and technologies that ASU, Caltech, UCLA and USC are presenting have that same potential, and we’re excited to be doing this in a forum loaded with top venture capital firms and angel investors.”

“Bringing our faculty and inventions to the Northern California venture community is a more effective means of connecting our inventors with resources,” said R.F. “Rick” Shangraw Jr., ASU’s senior vice president for Knowledge Enterprise Development. “And when we do this in collaboration with Caltech, USC and UCLA, we create a great deal of interest around our technologies."

Universities continue to conduct the majority of basic research in the United States. In the last two decades, more than 75 percent of all industrial patents issued in the United States have academic research as a key source of new knowledge. Studies have also shown companies spun out of research universities have a far greater success rate than other startups.

“Investors are always on the lookout for the next great university startup,” said Steve Jurvetson, managing director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson. “This event is a great way to see lots of technologies in a concentrated, efficient format. I’m excited to see what the universities have to show us.”

About 90 people attended the conference, including investors from top Silicon Valley venture funds, including Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Intel Capital, Khosla Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Redpoint Ventures, Sofinnova Ventures and many others. ASU presenters included:

Adesto Technologies (ASU-linked startup)
The programmable metallization cell, or PMC, is a new form of non-volatile computer memory being developed to replace the widely used flash memory. (Dr. Michael Kozicki)

Antigen Biomarkers for the Early Detection of Breast Cancer
Dr. Josh LaBaer and his colleagues at Harvard University and the Dana-Farber Cancer Research Institute have identified 28 antigens as potential biomarkers for the early detection of breast cancer.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease
Dr. Michael Sierks has developed a suite of technologies that has the potential to diagnose and treat Alzheimer’s Disease.

Fluidic Energy (ASU faculty startup)
Fluidic Energy is developing a new class of metal-air batteries that will offer lower cost, higher energy density, and longer run times in comparison to traditional batteries. (Dr. Cody Friesen)

MobiSphere (ASU faculty startup)
MobiSphere is working to establish “MobiCloud,” a secure mobile cloud framework that supports new security applications based on mobile computing and cloud computing. (Dr. Dijiang Huang)

NayaLogic, Inc. (ASU faculty startup)
NayaLogic’s technology can significantly reduce the power and boost the performance of digital integrated circuits. (Dr. Sarma Vrudhula)

Synbody Biotechnology (ASU startup)
Synthetic antibodies to treat a wide range of diseases (Dr. Stephen Albert Johnston)

VisionGate (ASU-linked startup)
Non-invasive diagnostic test for pre-symptomatic lung cancer (Dr. Alan Nelson)

The Arizona Board of Regents recently detailed the efforts of AzTE and the other state technology transfer offices. Last year, the three state universities generated $8 million in revenue from the development and licensing of new technology, a 70 percent increase from the prior year.

AzTE also works to connect ASU faculty inventors to investors on a one-to-one basis. Late last year, AzTE finalized a series of licensing transactions with EndoStim, Inc., a St. Louis medical device startup, spinning out applications for the groundbreaking neurostimulation technologies developed by Bruce Towe, a Harrington Biomedical Engineering professor in ASU’s School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering.

EndoStim will use ASU’s platform technologies to further develop implantable micro-electronic devices to aid in the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), urinary incontinence, and sexual dysfunction through local neurostimulation. These disorders affect hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

ASU’s neurostimulation technology was an important factor in EndoStim’s raising more than $6 million in Series B equity financing led by Santé Ventures of Austin, Texas. The company plans to use the funding to continue clinical trials overseas and pursue FDA approval for use of the neurostimulator for these disorders.

About Arizona Technology Enterprises (AzTE)
AzTE is a non-profit organization that operates as the exclusive intellectual property management and technology transfer organization for ASU and its research enterprise.  Comprised of industry and university veterans, AzTE brings together ASU’s researchers and industry partners to transform discoveries into marketable products and services, taking innovation out of the lab and into the commercial marketplace.   AzTE currently offers for licensing more than 300 novel technologies in the life and physical sciences.  For more information: