In December 2002, WTC awarded R&D funding to six company-university research teams through its Research & Technology Development (RTD) program. This round of projects is supporting advances in areas as diverse as pest control, pharmacogenetics, diesel fuel processors, and enhanced asphalt for roads. A summary of these research collaborations is featured below.
InnovaTek, Inc., Richland
Researcher: Dr. Patrick Pedrow, WSU School of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
InnovaTek is developing a diesel-based fuel processor to supply hydrogen for electrical generation by fuel cells. Using a plasma enhanced metal organic chemical vapor deposition system available at WSU, this research collaboration will help InnovaTek test the process of placing metal coatings directly onto microchannel surfaces-a technology it expects will greatly enhance its processor efficiency and reduce manufacturing costs.
Intelligent Ion, Inc., Seattle
Researcher: Dr. R. Bruce Darling, UW Dept. of Electrical Engineering
Intelligent Ion, Inc. develops products that improve the speed and usability of biological and chemical information. The company is building a new miniature mass spectrometer that will be 75 percent smaller (to fit on a large PC card) and significantly less expensive than existing systems. Under the direction of Professor Darling at the University of Washington, this project will research, design, and build the spectrometer’s precise, ultra-small focusing system (electronic and physical optics). This new small, low-priced portable instrument will be usable across a broad range of applications that require immediate, accurate compositional analyses — including national security, law enforcement, and environmental monitoring.
Sterling International, Inc., Spokane
Researcher: Dr. Prashanta Dutta, WSU School of Mechanical & Materials Engineering
Sterling International manufactures RESCUE® pest control products, which use pheromones to attract the insects. This WTC project teams the company with Dr. Prashanta Dutta to develop a precision micro-pump capable of controlling the dispensing rate of pheromones in insect traps that eventually will be capable of responding to environmental conditions, such as turning on or off at night. This system will be both inexpensive and use little power. With no moving parts, it is an ideal solution for battery-operated traps with a long operating life.
Survival, Inc., Seattle
Researcher: Dr. Brian Flinn, UW Dept. of Materials Science & Engineering
Survival provides chemical defense and ballistic protection technologies to military and homeland defense personnel. While current fiber or composite wrapped ceramic plates offer limited multi-hit protection, they are too heavy to be used for full-body protection. The company is researching lightweight, multi-hit protective systems that do not impair mobility, cause distracting discomfort, or induce fatigue. Survival has teamed with Dr. Brian Flinn to develop a concept for a multi-material, multi-layer solution that will leverage new uses for existing materials, new textile technology, and manufacturing processes to put a superior, affordable armor on the market.
VizX Labs, LLC, Seattle
Researcher: Dr. Daniel Sabath, UW Dept. of Laboratory Medicine
VizX Labs is a life science technology company delivering knowledge discovery systems that enhance researchers’ understanding of genetic mechanisms of disease. The diagnosis, treatment, and prediction of outcome from treatment of diseases such as cancer would substantially improve if tests were available to more precisely characterize various forms of the disease. VizX and Dr. Sabath are developing laboratory and software methodology to simultaneously measure the expression of multiple genes using DNA microarrays, to determine which genes are active in a blood or tissue sample. DNA microarrays will allow doctors to provide customized therapies by understanding the basis of disease at a molecular level.
YK Products, LLC, Everett
Researcher: Dr. A.T. Papagiannakis, WSU Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering
YK Products manufactures cold-mixed asphalt that is used primarily to fill potholes and other paving maintenance applications. Using WSU’s state-of-the-art Center for Asphalt Technology and Laboratory of Atmospheric Research, this project will develop an engineering and environmental assessment of an innovative cold-mixed asphalt concrete that incorporates largely recycled material and hardens under the action of traffic without perceivable emissions of harmful chemicals. The collaborators will track the performance of repairs over time and compute survivability curves to better guide future uses and applications.
EA and FTI Awards
In addition to the Research and Technology Development (RTD) program, WTC has two programs that facilitate fast-track industry-university research collaborations. The Entrepreneur’s Access (EA) and Focused Technology Initiative (FTI) programs are ideally suited to assist small businesses and startup enterprises in collaborative technology development. Both programs are available throughout the year.
FTIs provide up to $10,000–$30,000 for a project duration of 6–12 months and are targeted for companies with fewer than 100 employees. EAs fund a maximum amount of $5,000 for 3–6 month projects to companies with 15 or fewer employees.
The following projects received awards in 2002.
Allez PhysiOnix, Ltd., Kirkland
Researchers: Dr. Michel Kliot and Dr. Pierre Mourad, UW Dept. of Neurological Surgery
Intracranial pressure (ICP) is an extremely important determinant of brain function. At present, ICP can only be measured by performing a neurosurgical procedure in which a hole is drilled into the skull and a catheter is inserted into the space above the brain, into the brain itself, or into the brain’s deep ventricular system. The risks of this procedure (hemorrhage, stroke, and infection) must be weighed against its benefit. Drs. Kliot and Mourad are working with Allez PhysiOnix to test a novel device that can measure ICP noninvasively. This device also would allow the procedure to be done both in and outside of a hospital setting, with or without an attending neurosurgeon.
IsoRay, Inc., Richland
Researcher: Dr. Mark Phillips, UW Medical Center’s Cancer Center
IsoRay was formed to develop radioactive “seeds” use to treat confined prostate cancer and other solid tumors. IsoRay is using a new radioisotrope with a shorter half life and higher dose rate than isotopes currently being used. The goal is to provide a seed that is better able to kill all cancer cells while minimizing side effects. The company has partnered with Dr. Phillips to evaluate the radiological properties and radiobiological characteristics of IsoRay’s seeds as well as prepare a treatment planning computer program.
Isotron Corp., Seattle
Researcher: Dr. Buddy Ratner, UW Engineered Biomaterials Center
This team is developing a technology to provide semi-permeable reactive fabric coatings that can protect field troops, and industrial and healthcare workers in case of exposure to hazardous biological agents. This technology can also be applied to decontaminate drinking water systems. These industrial coatings are based on nanoparticle technology. Specifically, the company is working with Dr. Ratner to develop a new nanoparticle species that is capable of capturing and holding oxidant reactive species in a bioavailable state.
Leak Indicator Paint Systems (LIPS), Inc., Tacoma
Researcher: Dr. Gamal Khalil, UW Dept. of Chemistry
LIPS, Inc. is developing a microporous material that can remove arsenic in drinking water. The company believes this low-cost product will help small drinking water systems meet the new federal arsenic standard. This research collaboration is gathering data on surface areas, micropore structure, and loading capacity of a new microporous absorbent.
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