Research at Nebraska 2019-2020 Report
Carrick Detweiler

Research Ignites Faculty Startups

NUtech Ventures gives Nebraska’s big ideas a boost. The university’s technology commercialization affiliate supports economic development that improves lives across a range of disciplines. These three Nebraska startups benefited in 2019-2020.

Synbiotic Health

Combining healthy bacteria found in probiotics with the food that fuels them yields even greater health benefits. To create and commercialize these healthy synbiotic combinations, Nebraska faculty founded Synbiotic Health.

The startup plans to sell its synbiotics as ingredients to food and beverage companies. Working with NUtech Ventures, the company licensed its first two synbiotic strains. Human trials on the first begin soon.

Bob Hutkins, one of the co-founders

Synbiotic Health stems from Nebraska’s successful research on beneficial gut bacteria. Co-founder Andy Benson directs the Nebraska Food for Health Center, which studies gut-healthy food.

“The partnership (with Synbiotic Health) demonstrates the center’s commitment to translating and commercializing research-based products. These synbiotics are a rapidly emerging class of next-generation probiotics that can ultimately improve human and animal health,” said Benson, W.W. Marshall Distinguished Professor of Biotechnology.

He founded Synbiotic Health with Bob Hutkins, Khem Shahani Distinguished Professor of Food Science; Tom Burkey, professor of animal science; Jens Walter, University College Cork, Ireland; and company CEO Tim Brummels.

Nebraska news release: Faculty-led startup takes aim at improving gut health

Drone Amplified

As fire seasons stretch longer and blazes burn hotter, a Nebraska startup is helping drones fight fire with fire and keep people safe.

Drone Amplified developed drone-mounted technology that intentionally sparks small fires, which starve oncoming wildfires of fuel. Using drones to initiate controlled burns in remote or dangerous areas reduces risk to firefighters.

The technology has fought fires throughout the West and been sold to companies internationally. It mounts on standard, commercially available drones using the team’s custom software to automate tasks. A thermal camera aids visibility and enables nighttime flights.

Drone Amplified worked with NUtech Ventures to patent and license the technology.

“I think we’re right at the leading edge of this wave of using unmanned systems in firefighting,” said CEO Carrick Detweiler, Susan J. Rosowski Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering. “We want to save the lives of people doing very dangerous jobs.”

Nebraska news release: Husker startup brings firefighting drones to market


Before a golfer faces that immaculate expanse of green, lots of effort – and some guesswork – goes into achieving the perfect turf.

To make turfgrass management easier and more environmentally friendly, Nebraska’s Bill Kreuser launched TurfGrade, a startup that provides an app called GreenKeeper to guide management decisions. More than 2,000 customers worldwide, from high-end golf and other turf sports facilities to small-town golf courses, actively use the sophisticated software.

Bill Kreuser

GreenKeeper combines weather data and hundreds of research models, incorporating different fertilizers, grasses and management practices. Users enter data and receive customized guidance, such as when to reapply products.

“Our goal is to take all this research and put it into an interface that is intuitive, quick and easy to use,” said Kreuser, assistant professor of agronomy and horticulture and extension turfgrass specialist.

Kreuser developed GreenKeeper and licensed the software from NUtech Ventures.

Nebraska EconomicDevelopment at a Glance

Source: Bureau of Business Research. Figures represent fiscal year 2019, the most recent year for which information is available.


Expenditures supported by industry sponsorship


Licensing income in FY 2020


Jobs created statewide by Nebraska Innovation Campus


Economic impact of Nebraska Innovation Campus


University of Nebraska ranking among the top 100 academic institutions receiving U.S. patents


Student internships funded

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