New startup companies are tackling issues such as Citrus Greening, Celiac Disease and cognitive deficits, thanks to help from UC Davis.
The university helped fund 14 commercial startups during the past fiscal year through licensing agreements, or exclusive options to obtain such licenses, for technologies developed at UCD, totaling 63 new startups in the past five years.
“Helping translate university research into community impact and direct benefit to society remains a priority at UC Davis,” said Associate Vice Chancellor of Research Dushyant Pathak. “An important way in which we are facilitating this impact, is through the directed support we are providing to campus innovators in realizing their entrepreneurial ambitions through the formation of better enabled startups,” Pathak said.
Many of this year’s startups address critical needs in human health. One such startup is Tesio Pharmaceuticals, which is looking for ways to prevent arthritis after injury. Another startup, PvP Biologics, has created an enzyme that may be a therapeutic treatment for celiac disease.
Cognivive, developed by UCD Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Tony Simon, is developing video games to help people with cognitive deficits.
The company builds on research demonstrating that people who play action video games show enhanced abilities in spatiotemporal cognition.
Simon developed a “neurotherapeutic” game to help improve the spatial and temporal attention of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities, brain-injury patients and people with age-related cognitive deficits.
Recent testing with game prototypes has shown very promising results.
“We can really increase the extent of the visual field over which people using the treatment game can detect and encode information,” Simon said.
He is currently developing a virtual reality version of the game.
XTB Laboratories Inc., founded by Professor Cristina Davis, developed a method that can quickly and noninvasively diagnose a devastating citrus disease known as “citrus greening.” The disease has cost the citrus industry billions of dollars in lost revenue.
The technology takes advantage that all living organisms produce odors known as volatile organic compounds, which can be analyzed for specific biomarkers.
Field samples of odors are sent to XTB for analysis, which can turn around results in one to two days. The technology allows growers to detect the problem early and remove trees before they infect an entire grove.
“This technology is poised to help make a huge difference in early pathogen detection for the citrus industry,” Davis said. “It can readily be expanded to other agriculture industries in the future.”
In addition to startups, campus innovators disclosed 294 new inventions last year — an all-time high for the university. The majority related to advancements in human health, including medical devices, diagnostics and therapeutics.
Last year the university filed 170 patent applications and 84 U.S. and foreign patents were issued based on previous applications. The university also negotiated 108 license agreements and 135 copyright licenses.