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MTRAC Program Accelerates Commercialization Potential

Through a grant from the 21st Century Jobs Trust Fund, received through the Michigan Strategic Fund from the State of Michigan, Michigan Tech is moving advanced applied materials research closer to benefiting people and our planet.  The Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) program is supporting the acceleration of commercially viable advanced applied material technologies developed by university researchers.

Two other Michigan universities were also awarded MTRAC grants in 2013.  The University of Michigan has two MTRAC programs focusing on life sciences and transportation while Michigan State University’s grant supports advancing ag-bio technologies.

Guided by an oversight committee of entrepreneurs, investors, and leading faculty researchers, four Michigan Tech teams were selected in June 2014 from among sixteen proposal submissions.   John Diebel, MTRAC Program Director at Michigan Tech explains the rigorous review process, “In order for a faculty or team of researchers to submit a proposal, there has to be an invention disclosure on file with the university to determine that there is a high potential for commercialization.  The application process uses a multi-phase submission including a Letter of Intent, an invitation to submit a proposal and then a full proposal submission, which may require modifications to meet the oversight committee’s recommendation to move forward. The final step in the selection process concludes after an inventor presentation to the Oversight Committee.”  The program provides fifty percent of the project funding and the university and the Principal Investigator must provide the matching funds.

John Diebel, MTRAC Program Director, Michigan Technological University

 

The four projects currently being conducted at Michigan Tech include mineral removal from torrefied agricultural wastes as a sustainable replacement for pulverized coal in utility boilers, led by Ezra Bar-Ziv (ME-EM); commercialization and purification of oligonucleotides and peptides for research and therapeutic markets, led by Shiyue Fang (Chem); commercialization of a nanosensor platform, led by Tom Daunais and Paul Bergstrom (ECE); and, commercialization of a scalable synthesis process for 3-dimensional graphene materials by Yun Hang Hu (MSE).

How will these projects impact people and the planet?  Bar-Ziv’s project could yield a sustainable and renewable alternative fuel to help the utility industry meet renewable resource and greenhouse gas emission targets.  Fang’s project would provide a method for efficiently producing pharmaceutically-pure drugs for treatment of many diseases including cancer other life threatening illnesses.  Daunais’ project would allow for rapid testing of foodborne pathogens-a process that currently takes days.  This would allow food to pass criteria to begin shipping to markets and stores more quickly reducing waste and spoilage.  And Hu’s project could lead to innovations in regenerative braking, solar power, grid management systems, defense weaponry, and provide the ability to recover kinetic energy in a host of other industrial applications.

The next Michigan Tech MTRAC program cycle will be announced in December 2014 with a call for Letter of Intent submissions due in mid-January.  For more information, please contact John Diebel at 906-487-1082 or by email jfdiebel@mtu.edu.