UT Austin Prof. Donglei Fan, courtesy photo.

Publisher and Reporter with Silicon Hills News

At the monthly StARTup Studio at the University of Texas at Austin, Bob Metcalfe, professor of innovation and Ethernet inventor, announced a $48,200 innovation grant.

The grant went to Professor of Biomedical Engineering Tom Milner for his microscope project. Milner developed the microscope with Martin Poenie, associate professor in Molecular Cell and Development Biology and Jeffrey Kuhn, PhD in molecular biosciences. The microscope uses polarized light images to display the molecular structure inside a living cell.

The Innovation Center grants, which range in size from $5,000 to $50,000, bridge the gap between research and commercialization.

Earlier in March, the Innovation Center awarded a $31,000 grant to Professor of Mechanical Engineering Adela Ben-Yakar to improve the fabrication of a platform to significantly reduce the time for drug discovery, genetic screening and toxicology analysis.

Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Andrea Thomaz received a $12,000 grant to upgrade the robots she has developed for use in hospital logistics.

Last year, the Innovation Center also awarded a $40,000 grant to UT Mechanical
Engineering Professor Luis Sentis for his robotics startup Apptronik and $20,000 to UT Mechanical Engineering Professor Richard Crawford, who runs nVariate, a software design startup.

Metcalfe also announced the winners of UT’s Idea to Product student pitch contest, which is an early-stage technology commercialization plan competition. In all, eight teams with 32 students participated. Mechanical Engineering Professor Steven Nichols puts on the competition.

“It was a very cool event,” Metcalfe said. “This is an event in which there were no apps.”

MasSpec Pen won first place and $9,000 for its handheld surgical probe, which helps surgeons take tissue samples easily and effectively to rapidly perform and diagnose cancer biopsies. UT Chemistry Professor Livia Eberlin leads the team of students developing the device.

Second place went to Intra-Uterine Technology which won $6,000.

At February’s StARTup Studio, Professor of Mechanical Engineering Chris Rylander and Dr. Yvette Williams Brown, assistant professor with the Dell Medical School, presented the device. It is a post-partum medical device that allows doctors to attach an Intrauterine Device, known as an IUD for birth control, to a woman’s uterus after giving birth to a child.

And third place went to Arthroscopic Bone Reshaping project which won $3,000. A team of students working with Professor Ben-Yakar developed the next generation surgical tools for arthroscopic bone re-shaping using ultra-fast laser technology.

And at the March StARTup Studio, two professor led early stage startups presented their ideas to an invite-only crowd in a conference room on the 10th floor of the Ernest Cockrell Jr. Hall at UT.

UT Austin Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor Dragan Djurdjanovic, courtesy photo.

Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor Donglei “Emma” Fan presented technology that triples the density and energy of batteries using porous nickel and graphite foams.

Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor Dragan Djurdjanovic presented a startup called Yield Impact that provides data analytics tool to help the semiconductor industry mine its data to improve semiconductor yields.

This month, the company plans to start testing its Dynifex software with Samsung Austin. The company also completed the NSF I-Corps. program to assess how to commercialize its technology.