Auburn researchers presented with LAUNCH awards to help commercialize their projects

Published: May 26, 2017
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Seven Auburn University researchers have been recognized for their ideas and projects that could impact the economy of the state and region. The Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development recently presented the researchers with funding from LAUNCH: The Fund for Research and Innovation to help move their research to the marketplace.

"Auburn is committed to providing a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem for our faculty, staff and students as a natural extension of our land-grant mission," said John Mason, vice president for research and economic development. "Every day, our experts put good ideas to work in innovative ways across a range of sectors."

The 2017 recipients are:

  • Virginia Davis, Alumni Professor, and Robert Ashurst, associate professor, both from the Department of Chemical Engineering, who are commercially developing cellulose nanocrystal microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS, devices to deliver low cost, high sensitivity bio-sensing;

  • Bernhard Kaltenboeck, professor in the Department of Pathobiology, whose work relates to testing microparticle immune stimulators to promote growth in agricultural production animals;

  • Amit Morey, assistant professor in the Department of Poultry Science, who is finalizing a process to rapidly detect poor meat quality in chicken breasts;

  • Austin Gurley, doctoral candidate, David Beale, professor, and Roy Broughton, professor emeritus, all in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, who are using shape memory alloy servo actuators to improve mobility in robots.

They will receive a cash stipend toward the commercialization of their research.

"We are thrilled to be selected for LAUNCH funding because this will enable us to take the next step to bring our unique and patented cellulose nanocrystal micromachine platform to commercial markets," said Ashurst. "We are excited to continue this cutting-edge research and are hopeful that our work will positively impact the process for identifying and diagnosing a variety of diseases, contaminants or cancer in the years to come."

LAUNCH is an endowed fund conceived by the Auburn University Research Advisory Board as a mechanism to bridge the gap between innovative research and the marketplace. The fund was created in 2015 with the support of the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development with the goal of creating an endowment of $10 million that will generate approximately $400,000 annually for research grants. Until the endowment is fully funded, the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development is funding the awards.

LAUNCH recipients have the opportunity to meet with experts in entrepreneurship from Auburn’s Raymond J. Harbert College of Business as well as members of the Office of Innovation Advancement and Commercialization to assist in developing plans and assembling resources to move scientific achievement into commercial success.

Teams of MBA students will be assigned to carry out market research for each recipient, providing for real-world learning experience. Researchers may also be partnered with Auburn alumni and friends with specific industry-related experience to advance the projects.

More information is available at https://cws.auburn.edu/OVPR/pm/tt/launch.