Turning Ohio State research into commercial products
Two faculty-led teams from Ohio State are one step closer to commercializing new technology that they developed here on campus.
The teams successfully completed the inaugural I-Corps@Ohio program, which is a statewide collaboration of six Ohio colleges and universities (including Ohio State), funded and supported by the Ohio Department of Higher Education.
The goal of the program is to help faculty and student teams determine if their intellectual property – such as a new technology – could be the basis of a startup company.
Six teams that finished the seven-week program presented their ideas at the I-Corps@Ohio 2015 Showcase, held recently at The Boat House at Confluence Park in downtown Columbus.
The two teams from Ohio State that completed the program were led by:
● Glenn Daehn, professor of materials science and engineering, and Anupam Vivek, senior research associate. They have developed an impact spot welding technology for high strength metals that will be used in lighter-weight automobiles. The new technique consumes one-fifth of the energy of resistance spot welding, yet creates bonds that are commonly twice as strong.
● Renukaradhya Gourapura, associate professor of veterinary preventive medicine in the Food Animal Health Research Program at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster. He has developed a nanoparticle-based swine influenza vaccine for pigs that could help reduce the $3 to $10 in losses absorbed by pork producers on each pig per year.
All of the teams spent weeks working on a business plan, said Michael Camp, who is executive director of The Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (TEC) Institute at Ohio State, and who is serving as program director for the I-Corps@Ohio program.
One of the requirements of the program is that each team interview about 100 potential customers to see if the technology really does answer a need that they have.
“That’s a lot of people to talk to, but I think the teams found that it really helped them learn what it would take for their product to be successful in the marketplace,” Camp said. “That’s one of the main goals of the I-Corps@Ohio program.”
Leaders from both Ohio State teams agreed that interviews with potential customers were vital to making their technologies viable.
For example, the Ohio State team developing the swine flu vaccine had designed it to be sprayed into the nasal cavities of pigs, like the FluMist nasal spray for humans. But veterinarians they talked with were concerned about the time and effort it would take to restrain adult pigs while the vaccines were administered.
“It is not easy to hold a 300-pound pig to give them a nasal spray,” said Santosh Dhakal, a graduate student in the Food Animal Health Research Program at OARDC and a member of Gourapura’s team.
“The vets we talked to convinced us to investigate other ways to deliver the vaccine, which we are doing now.”
Daehn’s team also learned valuable lessons from talking to potential customers. Their talks with auto manufacturers and others who could use their new welding technology led them to think about how their device would actually fit on factory and shop floors and meet throughput requirements.
“As an academic, that’s not something we’re used to thinking about,” Daehn said. “We developed new technology that could help manufacturers, but going through this program made us think about how they would actually use it in the factory.”
Camp said I-Corps@Ohio will soon be looking for the next set of teams to go through the program next summer. The deadline to apply will be Feb. 7. For more information, visit the program website at: http://fisher.osu.edu/centers/tec/i-corps-at-ohio/.