Behind the scenes, NUtech Ventures connecting research with commercialization

Earlier this year, a study published in the journal Nature Photonics by a University of Nebraska-Lincoln researcher described a material four times more sensitive to X-rays than the compound used in leading commercial detectors.

The crystalline methylammonium lead tribromide, a heavy atom capable of absorbing more high-energy photon X-ray particles, would be capable of reducing the exposure to X-ray radiation by as many as 11 times, UNL’s Jinsong Huang found.

Funded jointly through the U.S. Department of Defense, National Science Foundation and the European Research Council, Huang and UNL postdoctoral researchers Haotong Wei and Yanjun Fang have landed a major breakthrough.

The material could make medical imaging for broken bones or CT scans safer and improve security stations at airports. Its practical uses have gained the attention of multiple medical imaging companies seeking to license the technology to build a better X-ray machine.

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$5M venture capital firm formed at MSU

EAST LANSING – The Michigan State University Foundation has launched Red Cedar Ventures, a $5 million venture investing subsidiary to help MSU start-ups that are on the cusp of market launch.

“We want to signal to the investment community that we are willing to commit resources to make sure the technologies that come from MSU are successful,” said David Washburn, executive director of the foundation.

Red Cedar Ventures would invest a minimum of $250,000 in businesses created by students and faculty to help get their products or services onto the market.

It is among the first venture capital firms in the Lansing region. The Michigan State Medical Society set up a $1.5 million healthcare-based venture fund, Quantum Medical Concepts, in 2014 in Lansing. Most venture capital firms in the state, however, are based in Detroit or Grand Rapids.

Greater Lansing has a slew of incubators that will help entrepreneurs prepare to launch a business. It also has a few accelerators, some of which invest up to $20,000 to develop prototypes for full market production. But, for start-ups that require at least $100,000 to get to market, there aren’t many options locally.

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White House expands platforms for inclusive entrepreneurship

The White House announced today new and expanded plans to improve diversity and inclusion within the startup economy, focused on higher education, investment and entrepreneurship. The diversity commitments made by schools, venture capital firms and tech companies represent a passing of the torch from the Obama administration to the private sector, which has been asked to take on the challenge of improving representation across the pipeline.

The American Society for Engineering Education is developing diversity and inclusion best practices for more than 200 member universities, and those schools have signed a pledge to foster diversity in their engineering programs. A coalition of more than 30 investment firms and accelerators has pledged to diversify access to capital, and to track and share data about the diversity of its portfolios. And 46 tech companies — including Xerox and TaskRabbit — have joined the Tech Inclusion Pledge, agreeing to publish recruitment goals and diversity metrics.

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Syngenta, Bayer Try ‘Open Innovation’ to Find Next Big Agtech Idea

Xconomy Raleigh-Durham — Agriculture is a more technical business than many people realize. Consider modern farm equipment: A John Deere tractor today contains more lines of code than a Boeing 747 jetliner, according to Syngenta’s Rick DeRose.

Big agriculture companies like Syngenta (NYSE: SYT) are now coming to a realization of their own: Not all of the new agtech innovations can come from their own labs or startups that have long fed the pipelines of big ag companies. The industry is expanding its technology scouting beyond M&A deals. Some companies are turning to early-stage research—some of it outside of the agriculture sector—in their search for agtech innovation.

“I think we’re getting more comfortable with the idea that we don’t know what we don’t know,” DeRose said.

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The National Science Foundation last week released its annual report on the top universities in total research and development expenditures.

Johns Hopkins University led with $2,305,679,000 in spending in 2015, but Hopkins always leads this ranking because the university's total includes expenditures by the Applied Physics Laboratory, the largest of the country's affiliated research centers that conduct research to support national security.

This year, 12 universities in the top 25 went up at least one spot, with Cornell University and the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center each going up two spots, Cornell from 14 to 12, and the M.D. Anderson Center from 21 to 19.

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