LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas will be well-represented at one of the nation’s most exclusive venture capital events.
Two KU technologies will be featured at the annual University Research & Entrepreneurship Symposium, a showcase of the most promising university-based inventions for venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, which will be Wednesday, April 3, in Cambridge, Mass. One of these projects is led by a researcher in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Heather Desaire, Department of Chemistry.
The symposium is designed to introduce a select group of cutting-edge university technologies to investors and entrepreneurs, with the goal of securing funding for new startup companies and converting university technologies into new products and cures.
The URES is highly selective and this year chose only 33 technologies for presentations. KU is one of only seven institutions to earn multiple presentation slots, joining Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mayo Clinic, University of Pittsburgh and University of Wisconsin at Madison.
“Our goal is to transfer KU discoveries from the laboratory to the marketplace,” said Julie Goonewardene, associate vice chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship and president of the KU Center for Technology Commercialization, “and presenting two of our strongest research projects to investors at the URES is a great way to do that. By getting in front of this group, we hope to commercialize KU technologies to benefit people and society.”
The KU researchers and their inventions/research are as follows:
- Mark Fisher, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology –Fisher is developing new technologies to address protein-folding diseases. Nearly 30-50 percent of all diseases that affect humans at any one time result from protein-folding defects. A subset of these folding diseases includes forms of Parkinson’s disease, cystic fibrosis, some cancers, diabetes and emphysema.
- Heather Desaire, Department of Chemistry; and Melinda Toumi, entrepreneur – Desaire and Toumi are developing new protein production technologies that are broadly applicable to many areas of biomedical research.
The URES has a strong history of creating partnerships that result in new university startup companies and the commercialization of university inventions. Over the past five years, 13 companies have received nearly $100 million in funding due to presentations at the symposium.
This is the second straight year KU will have a strong showing at the event. Last year, KU had three projects selected for presentations and was one of only four institutions to earn multiple presentation slots in the life science tracks.
There are currently 24 KU startup companies in existence, and the university has 72 active license agreements with companies for the commercial use of KU inventions.
“As the state’s flagship research university, our goal is to do research that produces a return on investment for Kansas and, more importantly, that creates new products and cures for people,” Goonewardene said.