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Four UTA startups participate in 2018 TECH Fort Worth Impact Showcase

Wednesday, June 6, 2018 • Media Contact: Louisa Kellie

Test greenhouse at Texas A&M Tyler for SolGro

Four startups developed by University of Texas at Arlington faculty and students participated this week in TECH Fort Worth’s fifth annual Impact Showcase of inspirational client startups.

“Participating in the impact showcase is an important way to push our technologies forward by exposing potential investors and other inventors to our strongest ideas,” said Teri Schultz, director of UTA’s Office of Technology Management.

“We work extensively with business accelerator TECH Fort Worth to strengthen our entrepreneurship culture on campus and to support innovations in the community.”

UTA philosophy student Tyler Sickels and physics Professor Wei Chen are developing SolGro, an agricultural research and manufacturing startup that is working on advanced growing technologies. The company is currently working in partnership with UTA and Texas A&M Tyler to further develop light converting greenhouse glazing that helps commercial crop growers increase their productivity by improving the nutritional quality of their crops, extending the lifetime of their greenhouse canopies and significantly increasing crop yield. SolGro’s technology does this without the additional energy costs required by indoor grow facilities.

“We are here because we are TECH Fort Worth clients,” Sickels said. “TECH Fort Worth has been helping us since “square one,” with all the business support and corporate strategy. It’s been great support. We are also meeting potential investors.”

Faculty startup Abexxa Biologics, named one of the 40 Best University Startups in 2017 by the National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer, is working to identify a new series of biomarkers or targets for cancer from the many thousands of proteins found within a tumor cell. This is a new field of research that could potentially result in immunotherapies that prove effective for a broad range of patients.

Resonant Sensors is the brainchild of faculty inventor, Robert Magnusson, UTA Texas Instruments Distinguished University Chair in Nanoelectronics and professor of electrical engineering, and UTA graduate Debra Wawro. Magnusson and Wawro have developed a technology based on nanostructured resonant sensors illuminated with light which allows pharmaceutical companies to better define the physical properties of drugs under development. 

Suzanne Gimlin, vice president for operations for AbeXXa, was at the event representing both AbeXXa and Resonant Sensors. She underlined that the two startups attended “to support TECH Fort Worth as it is such a great program, as well as for networking.”

The fourth startup, Nano Liquid Solutions, was developed by Ali Farzbod, a mechanical engineering doctoral student, who is developing a device called Medichip that can help diabetic patients check and receive blood tests quicker. The platform enables a blood test with a small amount of sample, a drop of blood, which results in a massive reduction in materials used and eventually results in a more cost-effective screening.

“For us, this is an important channel as we are looking for a seed investor with connections in the Food and Drug Administration to help us start the development process and build a prototype,” Farzbod said.

UTA’s Office of Technology Management has developed a weekly entrepreneurship workshop series, called EpICMavs (EpIC = Entrepreneurial, Innovative, Collaborative), where budding and experienced entrepreneurs discuss topics relevant to establishing and building a business. UTA and TECH Fort Worth also developed an “EpICMavs Deep Dive” cohort where companies work on their business model, company structure, needed funding and company pitches with hands-on mentoring and guidance from experienced entrepreneurs. These efforts are critical to establishing an entrepreneurial ecosystem at UTA. Since its inception in 2015, more than 400 faculty, students and local entrepreneurs have passed through EpIC Mavs.