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Engineering research projects haul in CoMotion Innovation Fund dollars

Student working in lab

The CoMotion Innovation Fund awards grants to innovative projects with promising impact, bridging the gap between academic research grants and the ability to attract seed-stage investment. This year, seven out of the 11 innovation fund awards go to engineering-based projects:

Project teams compete for funding by pitching to a panel of CoMotion and Washington Research Foundation staff, senior executives, and venture capitalists, who rank projects by market opportunity and likelihood that CoMotion Innovation Fund support will influence the probability of commercial success. Recipients of the CoMotion Innovation Fund received $50K for one year, plus CoMotion helps assemble a support team of business, IP, technical, and startup experts for each project's continued development.

Read about the UW engineering research teams that are "that much closer" to commercialization:

Timely intervention often makes all the difference. How to connect all the data dots, people and resources is the challenge. The Baby Steps platform is just such a connector. For now, the focus is on connecting children services to families of young children who’ve just determined they need the support for early childhood development. The medium is family-friendly social media. The program is a research-based ecosystem of interactive technology that engages parents for long-term tracking of child development and efficiently connects them to early intervention resources.

Vie Diagnostics, the team that won first place in the UW’s 18th annual Business Plan Competition in 2015, is a UW startup developing the first accurate, inexpensive point-of-care diagnostic for chlamydia and gonorrhea.

UW engineers have designed a passive sensor that could be placed permanently in a person’s eye to monitor glaucoma by continuously tracking hard-to-measure changes in eye pressure. The sensor would be embedded with an artificial lens during cataract surgery and would detect pressure changes instantaneously, then transmit the data wirelessly using radio frequency waves.

  • Karl Böhringer, professor in Electrical Engineering (EE) and Bioengineering (BioE)
  • Brian Otis, affiliate professor in Electrical Engineering (EE)
  • Çağdaş Varel, PhD candidate in EE
  • Yi-Chun Shih, PhD, EE

The Aquarium Laboratory operating system enables biotechnology labs to quickly and easily develop, scale and share highly reproducible, experimental workflows and dramatically increase lab productivity.

  • Eric Klavins, associate professor in Electrical Engineering (EE) and adjunct associate professor in Bioengineering (BioE) and Computer Science & Engineering (CSE)
  • Tileli Amimuer, graduate student, EE
  • Nick Bolten, graduate student, EE
  • Miles Gander, graduate student, EE
  • Greg Nelson, graduate student, CSE
  • Yaoyu Yang, graduate student, EE

SiliCar9 Affinity Chromatography is redefining protein purification with low-cost, environmentally-friendly kits to enable life science researchers to quickly and easily purify recombinant proteins produced by genetic engineering.

This research project focuses on obtaining critical proof of concept data for rationally designed peptides that can stop the harmful changes of the body’s normal proteins into a state that’s linked to widespread diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and Lou Gehrig’s disease. The synthetic molecule blocks these proteins as they shift from their normal state into an abnormally folded form by targeting a toxic intermediate phase. The discovery of a protein blocker could lead to ways to diagnose and even treat a large swath of diseases that are hard to pin down and rarely have a cure.

UW scientists have designed a concept for a fusion reactor that, when scaled up to the size of a large electrical power plant, would cost the same as a new coal-fired plant with similar electrical output. It would displace conventional energy sources such as coal, natural gas, and fission. Dynomak Fusion Reactor is a safe, zero-carbon emitting solution that has a nearly limitless fuel source and is economically competitive.

  • Thomas Jarboe, professor in aeronautics and astronautics and adjunct professor in Physics
  • Derek Sutherland, PhD student in plasma physics and fusion energy
  • Kyle Morgan of physics
  • Eric Lavine, aeronautics and astronautics
  • Michal Hughes, aeronautics and astronautics
  • George Marklin, aeronautics and astronautics
  • Chris Hansen, aeronautics and astronautics
  • Brian Victor, aeronautics and astronautics
  • Michael Pfaf, aeronautics and astronautics
  • Aaron Hossack, aeronautics and astronautics
  • Brian Nelson, electrical engineering

Read the full article on the UW CoMotion website.