Auburn researchers, local entrepreneurs competing April 4 for funding to move ideas to the marketplace

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Auburn University’s top entrepreneurial faculty and students will join local, enterprising residents—each with ideas and projects that could impact the economy of the state and nation—on April 4 for the university’s LAUNCH competition and the Auburn Regional Alabama Launchpad finale.

During the day, Auburn’s Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development will select faculty recipients for funding from its LAUNCH Fund for Research and Innovation to help move their research to the marketplace. The event will be held at the Auburn Research and Technology Foundation building in the Auburn Research Park, 570 Devall Drive.

Five finalists will make presentations and must demonstrate their projects’ merit in the quest for $100,000 in funding which could be awarded in varying amounts.

“Programs like LAUNCH serve to help bridge the gap between entrepreneurial activity and academic research,” said John Mason, Auburn’s vice president for research and economic development. “With funding and guidance made available through LAUNCH, university research expertise can be transformed into intellectual property and, eventually, marketable commodities which contribute to economic development and extend the impact of Auburn faculty throughout the state and region.”

Those selected will receive a cash stipend and the opportunity to meet with experts in entrepreneurship from Auburn’s Harbert College of Business and the university’s Office of Innovation Advancement and Commercialization.

The finalists and their proposals are:

  • Michael Knotts, graduate research assistant in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. Proposal: “Induction Extrusion/Pultrusion 3D Printer,” which uses induction heating to create heat in a magnetic nozzle and melt metal fed into it. The printer would be used in additive manufacturing to allow metals other than aluminum to be printed and at a lower cost.

  • Shiwen Mao, professor in the Department of Wireless Engineering/Electrical and Computer Engineering, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. Proposal: “ResLoc,” which uses Indoor Device Localization by Deep Residual Sharing Learning to address the problem of identifying the location of a mobile device in an indoor environment. Internet providers could use this technology to provide indoor localization and navigation for mobile users in places like shopping malls, airports and sports stadiums. 

  • Peter Panizzi, associate professor in the Department of Drug Discovery and Development, Harrison School of Pharmacy. Proposal: “Clot-in-a-Can,” a new class of hemostatic agents that can be used to stop bleeding in patients after acute trauma or severe burns. It also could be used to stop bleeding in cattle during dehorning. His research indicates an agent produced by staph bacteria will cause immediate blood clotting. 

  • Valery Petrenko, professor in the Department of Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine. Proposal: "Nucleocine—Phagenavigating Metastatic Breast Cancer-targeted Paclitaxel-Micell Nanomedicine.” He has developed a prospective metastatic breast cancer medicine, Nucleocine, using proprietary, Auburn-patented technology. In human breast cancer mice models, Nucleocine triggered a dramatic tumor reduction, extensive cancer cell death and no signs of nonspecific toxicity. 

  • Barry Yeh, recent doctoral graduate in the Department of Chemical Engineering, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. Proposal: “Gadolinium free MRI and MRA contrast agents,” a new technology he developed that could provide increased patient safety. Contrast MRI and MRA are powerful, non-invasive biomedical imaging techniques for diagnosis of disease. Initially, they were thought to be safe, but this has come into question by the FDA.

They are examples of Auburn’s world-renowned faculty delivering solutions to pressing regional, national and global needs. More information on LAUNCH is available at

Auburn Regional Alabama Launchpad

An evening program at Ag Heritage Park, 620-A S. Donahue Drive, will feature presentations by six startups in the Auburn Regional Alabama Launchpad finale competition where $100,000 and a berth into this fall's state competition are up for grabs.

Teams include: 

  • Beyond Home Care: personalized non-medical home care for the elderly and disabled, presented by Kelly Adams of Alexander City. 

  • Tennibot: robotic tennis ball collector, presented by Auburn University engineering student Haven Barnes. 

  • FoPark: a simplified parking management system, presented by Auburn University engineering alumni Sakthi Kandaswaamy and Parker Roan of Auburn. 

  • Energy H2O: production of energetic, healthier bottled water, presented by Moses Weaver of Tuskegee. 

  • InhiProt: treatment idea for those suffering with multiple myeloma, presented by Auburn University pharmacy professor Alexei Kisselev. 

  • NanoXort: development of safer contrast agents for MRIs, presented by Auburn University engineering graduate student Tareq Anani and recent engineering doctoral graduate Barry Yeh.

The Auburn Regional Alabama Launchpad is presented by Harbert College's Lowder Center for Family Business and Entrepreneurship, the City of Auburn, Auburn Research and Technology Foundation and the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama. BBVA Compass served as the event's title sponsor. The region is comprised of Lee, Tallapoosa, Macon, Chambers and Russell counties. Details on how to purchase tickets to the Auburn Regional Alabama Launchpad are available at More information on Alabama Launchpad is available at

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.