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ASU startups highlighted in 'Success Stories'

May 21, 2010

A report showing the link between federally funded basic research and economic growth includes two Arizona State University startup companies among its 100 success stories.

The report, “Sparking economic growth: How federally funded university research creates innovation, new companies and jobs,” was released by the Science Coalition, Washington, D.C., a nonpartisan organization of 50 of the leading public and private research universities in the United States. The report traces the origins of 100 companies to advanced research conducted at a university and sponsored by a federal agency.

These success stories include global industry leaders like Google, Genentech, Cisco Systems and SAS, as well as relative newcomers such as advanced battery manufacturer A123 Systems; network security company Arbor Networks; and Sharklet Technologies, which has developed a novel surface technology based on the qualities of sharkskin to combat hospital-acquired infections.

The report illustrates the substantial economic benefits to the United States when companies are created as a result of discoveries in federally funded university laboratories.

“This report underscores the links between scientific advances and economic development,” said R.F. “Rick” Shangraw Jr., ASU’s senior vice president for Knowledge Enterprise Development. “It reminds us that much of our economic development comes first from the investment in basic research that leads to new knowledge, innovation and job creation.”

The ASU startups included in the report are:

AzERx Inc., Phoenix
Founded at Arizona State University, AzERx is a biotechnology company that develops novel peptides and other molecules aimed at helping patients with under-served conditions. The company was formed based on the research of Dr. Colleen Brophy and a team of researchers at ASU who were working on drugs that could prevent strokes, initially focusing on a protein that is important for blood vessel cells to relax. AzERx Inc., was acquired by OrthoLogic Corp., Tempe, Ariz., in 2006.

Molecular Imaging Inc. (now Agilent AFM), Chandler
ASU professor Stuart Lindsay and Tianwei Jing (a former post-doc of Lindsay’s) founded Molecular Imaging in 1993. The company has developed atomic force microscopes (AFMs) and scanning probe microscope systems, accessories and software for high resolution AFM and STM imaging. These instruments are used in nanotechnology research applications in life science, biotechnology, electrochemistry and material and polymer science. Agilent Inc., Santa Clara, Calif., acquired Molecular Imaging in 2005.

“Our lab at Arizona State University received substantial support from both the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation to develop scanning probe microscopy for biological applications right from the first discovery of the technique dating to 1985-1986,” said Stuart Lindsay, who also is director of the Center for Single Molecule Biophysics at ASU’s Biodesign Institute. “This directly led to the IP that Molecular Imaging licensed from ASU when it was founded in 1993.  Today, Agilent AFM in Chandler is a significant employer of scientists and engineers, manufacturing and developing the instruments pioneered by Molecular Imaging.”

The report is available at