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'Gap' Funds Accelerate Commercialization of Unique FAU Inventions

Florida Atlantic Research & Development Authority Provides Second Round of Funding to Support Inventions and Works by FAU Faculty, Researchers and Students

BOCA RATON, FL (March 13, 2008) — Florida Atlantic University received a second round of funding from the Florida Atlantic Research & Development Authority (Authority) in the amount of $50,000 to continue to help fill the “gap” between basic research and the stage at which commercial development can begin. FAU received initial funding of $50,000 in late 2006 from the Authority, the operating agency for the FAU Research Parks in Boca Raton and Deerfield Beach, Florida. The gap funds are intended to translate university research into viable products or services for the benefit of the public either through licensing the inventions to existing companies or creating new companies to commercialize the research results.

        “So many vital discoveries come from universities,” said Bob Swindell, board chair of the Authority. “We are extremely pleased that our support is creating a strong momentum in the commercial development of FAU technologies and furthering the mission of the Authority by encouraging economic development of our region.”

   Recipients of the FAU gap funds to date include:

  • Dr. Ravi Shankar, professor, College of Engineering and Computer Science, for a technology which reduces power dissipation in cell phones using a novel mobile architecture and high speed scalable multiplier.  
  • Dr. Hari Kalva, assistant professor, College of Engineering and Computer Science, for the development of a video transcoder to more efficiently convert MPEG-2 videos to H.264, the latest video compression standard. Kalva received a second gap award for a video encoder that reduces the computing power required for high-quality video which will improve performance of mobile devices, video telephony and H.264 high-definition video for personal computers.  
  • Dr. Yoshimi Shibata, associate professor, Charles E. Schmidt College of Biomedical Science, for a unique process using micro-particles derived from the exoskeleton of crabs, shrimp, insects and the cell wall of fungi to enhance protective immunity against infectious agents. A Japanese-based company which may serve as a potential commercial partner for this patent-pending technology provided Shibata with matching funds.
  • Dr. Guodong Sui, assistant professor, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, for an integrated microfluidic histology chip he designed to provide real time, high throughput, highly specific detection of cancer biomarkers for early and precise cancer diagnosis. This enabling technology can also be used for diagnosis of other diseases from bodily fluids and tissues.
  • Dr. Herbert Weissbach, director of the Center for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology and distinguished professor, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, for a compound he developed as a chemo-protective agent and to shield skin against ultraviolet light, type B (UVB) damage. CHS Resources LLC previously entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with FAU to commercialize the compound for the prevention and treatment of skin, oral and other cancers. As a result of the gap fund award, CHS and FAU are finalizing an exclusive agreement for the chemo-protective agent that will be targeted for use in sunscreen lotions and cosmetics. In addition to the gap fund award, Weissbach received $25,000 in matching funds from the Hahn Foundation and Dr. Elliott Hahn, former Andrx founder, president, CEO and chairman of the board.

“FAU is among an elite group of universities nationally that currently have gap funds t o help increase the number of innovations that originate in universities and enter the marketplace,” said Dr. Ramaswamy Narayanan, associate dean for research and industrial relations in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science at FAU and a member of the gap fund review committee. “Commercialization of research is an integral part of a university’s increasingly important role to contribute to local economic development.”

FAU faculty, researchers and students compete for gap funds through a request for proposal (RFP) process which requires proof-of-concept, prototype development and commercial feasibility. Awards are made semi-annually, and funding is limited to a maximum of $15,000 per award. The gap fund program committee composed of industry and business leaders in various fields, including a representative from the Authority, review and select recipients of the awards.

“The gap fund is already yielding positive results for FAU in the early stages of this program,” said Stephen Nappi, director of technology transfer at FAU. “In addition to matching funds, this program has generated three new inventions, contributions from individual donors and four prospective industry partnerships to commercialize these discoveries.”

FAU formed the Florida Atlantic Research & Development Authority in 1986 with the support of the Broward and Palm Beach county commissions. The Authority serves as the governing body responsible for the establishment of the Research Park at FAU and works closely with the university and prospective tenants for the Park.

- FAU -

Florida Atlantic University opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University serv es more than 26,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses strategically located along 150 miles of Florida's southeastern coastline. Building on its rich tradition as a teaching university, with a world-class faculty, FAU hosts ten colleges:  College of Architecture, Urban & Public Affairs, Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Biomedical Science, the Barry Kaye College of Business, the College of  Education, the College of  Engineering & Computer Science, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Graduate College,   the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science.  

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