December 1, 2017
NUtech Ventures recognized University of Nebraska-Lincoln innovators and their promising technologies during a Nov. 9 celebration at Nebraska Innovation Campus.
NUtech Ventures, the university’s intellectual property and technology commercialization unit, aims to facilitate the commercialization and practical use of innovations generated through Nebraska research activities to promote economic development and improve quality of life.
Chancellor Ronnie Green and Interim Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development Steve Goddard spoke at the event, which highlighted this year’s NUtech Ventures Innovator Celebration awards and their recipients.
The Prem S. Paul Innovator of the Year award went to P. Stephen Baenziger, professor of agronomy and horticulture and Nebraska Wheat Growers Presidential Chair, for his work in wheat and small grain breeding and germplasm development. Baenziger plays a key role in developing improved wheat breeding methods, emphasizing stress tolerance and the use of biotechnology. His work in assessing the agronomic value and quality of crops in Nebraska boosts farmers’ profitability and helps tackle global food security.
The Breakthrough Innovator of the Year award went to Matthew Jockers, Susan J. Rosowski Associate Professor of English and associate dean for research and partnerships in the College of Arts and Sciences, for his development of a predictive algorithm capable of forecasting a manuscript’s potential to achieve best-seller status. Jockers and collaborator Jodie Archer used a supercomputer at the university’s Holland Computing Center to identify about 2,800 characteristics a computer can use to analyze manuscripts. This technology, summarized in “The Bestseller Code,” could be a valuable tool for writers, readers and publishers.
The Emerging Innovator of the Year award went to Yuguo Lei, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, for his invention of novel devices for cell manufacturing that can be used for personalized medicine. Lei’s system produces a large number of cells in a way that is more affordable and safer than existing technologies. The devices develop cells that can be reprogrammed – for example, skin cells could be converted to heart cells to improve survival after a heart attack. Cell therapies may help treat a wide range of diseases, including Alzheimer’s and diabetes.
The Startup Company of the Year award went to GC Image LLC, founded by Stephen Reichenbach, professor of computer science and engineering. The university spinoff company provides industry-leading software solutions for visualizing, analyzing and reporting on data from comprehensive gas chromatography systems. Clients from around the world use the company’s technology for wide-ranging applications, including identifying pollution sources, performing forensics in arson cases and pinpointing causes of cancer. GC Image has received support from the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation, which is funding the company’s development of informatics that identify health and disease biomarkers.
The Commercialization Partner of the Year award went to the Nebraska Crop Improvement Association and NuPride Genetics Network, led by executive director Steve Knox. NCIA is a nonprofit that provides inspections and other services that add value to crops, contribute to agricultural diversity and sustainability, and benefit producers through higher yields. NuPride, launched by NCIA, broadens clients’ options by licensing products from companies or other states. NCIA and NuPride collaborate with the university, Husker Genetics, NUtech Ventures and industry partners to move Nebraska seed technologies to farmers’ fields.