The entrepreneurial spirit at UConn has led to the launch of world-changing startups across a variety of industries. Students, faculty, and alumni have grasped the resources available to help turn their ideas into products and services that improve lives. UConn-supported businesses make a lasting impact on Connecticut’s economy and the future of industry. The Technology Incubation Program, for instance, has backed more than 100 startup companies, contributing to the creation of more than 2,000 jobs supported and sustained annually by the University. In addition, more than 600 U.S. patents have been granted based on UConn innovations, with 39 issued last year alone. Read on for a sample of companies with UConn roots, including those developing new medications to treat everything from blindness to gastrointestinal conditions, leading-edge technologies that make life easier, novel devices that cut health care costs, and more.
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Company Man and College Student
By their sophomore year in high school, Ben Grosse ’21 (BUS) and his good friend Bharat Pulgam had amassed an impressive collection of broken earbuds. But their parents were less than impressed at the bills for replacement sets. This sparked an idea for a customizable earbud business and now, Grosse is co-owner and sales director of a $100,000 a year company.
Startup Advances Carbon-Zero Fuels through UConn Partnership
UConn Student Entrepreneurs
Since 2013, UConn's IDEA Grant Program has allowed dozens of students to turn their ideas into reality. Creative projects span disciplines, from a 3-D printed, muscle controlled, prosthetic hand to the first STEM-focused magazine at UConn to an invasive plant-removal business.
Peter J. Werth
Entrepreneur and philanthropist Peter J. Werth has pledged $22.5 million to UConn to ensure a legacy of entrepreneurship and innovation for students for generations to come. Werth's donation will establish and support the Peter J. Werth Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which will bring together student and faculty programs fostering entrepreneurship and innovation that potentially have commercial application and can be used to create new companies. In addition to nurturing innovation, the Institute will facilitate entrepreneurship speaker forums and host an entrepreneur-in-residence to instruct students.
Read more on UConn Today.
Connecticut Bioscience Innovation Fund (CBIF)
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grant
Federal SBIR grants are among the largest sources of early-stage capital for technology commercialization in the United States. Run by various federal agencies like the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, these grants allow U.S. small businesses with strong commercialization potential to participate in federal research and development. SBIR grants support UConn-related startups including Thetis Pharmaceuticals, Biorasis, and Mobile Sense Technologies.
Cornovus Pharmaceuticals – UConn Health
Cornovus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. commenced operations in October of 2011. The company is focused on the development of a novel cardioprotective compound, MRS2339, for the treatment of heart failure. MRS2339 is a small molecule that stimulates cardiac myocyte P2X4 receptors, which in turn increases myocyte eNOS and cGMP. The compound has been shown effective in multiple preclinical models of heart failure and currently is progressing through IND enabling studies.
Lipid Genomics – UConn Health
Lipid Genomics is developing its FDA-approved investigational drug targeted at people with variations in the HDL ("good cholesterol") SCARB1 gene. More than 117 million people in the U.S. could benefit from this drug. Lipid Genomics has a potential to generate a very sizable profit as the market size for this therapeutic is $2.8 billion and the market size for their second product, novel immune checkpoint inhibitor lymphocyte activation gene-3 (LAG-3), is $1.4 billion.
Mobile Sense Technologies – Engineering
Mobile Sense™ is building foundational technology enabling off-the-chest wearables for long-term management of cardiac arrhythmias. Mobile Sense replaces invasive and inconvenient cardiac monitoring technology, which requires cables and patches, with a simple armband. Mobile Sense's device is non-adhesive, wireless, and waterproof. Neither surgery nor wires are needed to continuously detect and report dangerous arrhythmias to the doctor. Major device manufacturers are embedding this technology.
Biorasis, Inc. is a privately held company committed to developing a wireless, needle-implantable (0.5 x 0.5 x 5 mm) biosensor platform for real time, continuous metabolite monitoring. Based at UConn's Technology Incubation Program, Biorasis is a faculty-owned startup.
YouComm – Engineering
YouComm is a tablet-based platform that allows a patient to choose their problem or need from a list or write a custom message that will be sent via text message directly to their caregiver. YouComm incorporates head-movement tracking and voice recognition technology for patients who are immobile.
Read more on UConn Today.
Eir Medical Devices – Engineering
Eir Medical Devices developed a device designed to help physicians measure patients’ blood viscosity, a traditionally unused, but promising indicator of cardiac risk, and health for patients on dialysis and certain types of cancers.
Hans Health – UConn Health
Hans Health's platform technology, known as a Genomics Driven Immunoproteomics or GDI, allows rapid identification of personalized tumor mutation profiles that are recognized by cancer patients’ own immune system. This new immune assessment tool has the potential to offer more effective treatment options for some of the most aggressive cancer cases.
Learn more on UConn Today.
Torigen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has developed a treatment that can work for multiple tumor indications, treating more than 2 million companion animals diagnosed with cancer each year. Its product, VetiVax, is a novel, personalized immunotherapy that uses the animals’ own tumor cells to fight cancer. When combined with an innovative bulking agent, MIMTM (Matrix Immune Modulator), an overall reduction in tumor size and inhibition of metastasis have been noted. The treatment has been proven safe in a Phase I trial.
Avitus™ Orthopaedics, Inc. was established in 2011 with the mission of developing new orthopaedic technologies that improve clinical outcomes while decreasing health care costs. The company is developing a novel surgical device that will enable surgeons to use autologous bone graft material to improve the lives of patients. Avitus is currently looking to close their Series A round.
Dashride is the leading provider of mobile dispatching software for transportation companies, supporting nearly 500 transportation companies in most major U.S. cities, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and Australia. The comprehensive software grew out of Sobrio, a sober rides company that won UConn’s Business Plan Competition and the School of Business’ first Innovation Quest competition when its founders were students.
Learn more on UConn Today.
Enviro Power is a Connecticut-based company bringing to market heating equipment that provides high-efficiency heat and generates low-cost electricity. Called SmartWatt, it gives building owners and homeowners the ability to lower both their heating and electricity costs with something every home and building needs anyway – heating equipment.
LambdaVision, Inc. (LVI) is developing a high-resolution, protein-based retinal implant to restore vision to the millions of patients blinded by retinal degenerative diseases, including retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Based on a UConn chemistry discovery, the patent-protected retinal implant technology developed by LambdaVision uses the light-activated protein, bacteriorhodopsin, to replace the function of the damaged photoreceptor cells. The flexible, subretinal implant is powered by incident light and does not require any external power supplies or bulky hardware on or outside the eye, and offers the potential for far greater resolution than competing electrode-based technologies. LambdaVision, whose CEO is a UConn alumna, is currently at the pre-seed stage, but is looking for seed money to support further preclinical development.
Thetis Pharmaceuticals LLC is developing novel drugs to treat inflammation-related gastrointestinal diseases with high unmet medical needs. The lead candidate, TP-252, is rapidly advancing through pre-clinical evaluations with the goal of beginning clinical FDA studies in 2018. Thetis aims to partner with a large pharmaceutical company to bring TP-252 to market by 2023.