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Six USC Research Teams Complete Startup Boot Camp And Receive Nearly $500K To Commercialize Technologies

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The USC Stevens Center for Innovation, whose mission is to support the creation of start up companies and commercially viable products emerging from research across the University of Southern California, announced today that six faculty led research teams received nearly $500K in gap funding to develop and commercialize their innovations.

The funds are part the USC Ideas Empowered Program, which is designed to bridge the gap between basic research and the marketplace by supporting both the idea and the innovator through mentoring and coaching, connections to resources and proof-of-concept funding of typically $50K-$100K. The program requires teams of USC faculty and graduate students to determine viability of their research becoming a product or company, demonstrate feasibility and develop a go to market strategy. The ultimate goal is to reduce any development and investment risks in order to attract outside funding within a year. For more information watch the USC Ideas Empowered Overview Video.

"The USC Ideas Empowered Program was an incredible experience because it forced us out of the confines of our 'controlled' scientific experiments and gave us a sneak-peak into the exciting, ever dynamic, world of an entrepreneur," explains John Pham of the ComfortCorrect team that was a judge favorite and will receive initial funding of $100,000 for his innovative approach to orthodontics.  "Through the process, our team has grown stronger and is better equipped to translate our ideas into a product that can create impact in the marketplace."

Forty-six teams applied for the 12-week mentoring and funding program. Eleven program participants were chosen and the final presentations were given to a select group of investors, entrepreneurs and industry experts on December 11, 2012 at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies in Playa Vista, CA. From the eleven teams, six were chosen to receive funding and those are listed below. To learn more about the USC Ideas Empowered Final Pitch event on December 11, 2012, download the Event Program.

The University of Southern California is committed to scholarship with consequence, to research that results in insights and inventions with the potential to transform existing industries, create new industries and improve lives," said Karen Kerr, Sr. Director of New Ventures and Alliances at the USC Stevens Center for Innovation. "We developed the USC Ideas Empowered Program to accelerate the commercialization of these groundbreaking insights and inventions."

Funding for USC Ideas Empowered comes from Charter Members and Program Supporters, the Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute (SC-CTSI) and the Johnson and Johnson Corporate Office of Science and Technology (J&J COSAT). USC Ideas Empowered Program mentoring and workshops are supported by our University Partners and an extensive network of Mentors, Reviewers, and Collaborators.

2012 Ideas Empowered Program Funding Recipients

ComfortCorrect: Fully customized, contoured "behind the teeth" smart memory alloy orthodontic braces

2012 USC Ideas Empowered Program Grant: $100,000

Through a joint collaboration between USC's top engineers and orthodontists, ComfortCorrect develops an orthodontic solution that combines the effectiveness of conventional braces, the aesthetics of behind-the-teeth braces, and the comfort and ease of use of Invisalign all in a single appliance. Through an advanced robotics process that programs shape memory alloy, the product delivers an orthodontic treatment that is faster, more effective and more hygienic than any of the current orthodontic solutions.

Team Members:
  • Yong Chen, USC Viterbi School of Engineering
  • Behrokh Khoshnevis, PhD, USC Viterbi School of Engineering
  • Xuan Song, MSE, USC Viterbi School of Engineering
  • Hongsheng Tong, DDS, PhD, Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC
  • John Pham, DDS, BSE, Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC
  • Robert Lee, BSE, Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC

EvoRx: System for drugging protein-protein interactions with cell-permeable, biologically stable peptides

2012 USC Ideas Empowered Program Grant: $75,000

Effective treatment of many diseases will require a new generation of therapeutics.  These next-generation therapeutics need to translate our immense knowledge of cellular biology into highly effective medications.  Unfortunately, many of the most attractive drug targets are classified as "undruggable." EvoRx develops highly effective molecules against "undruggable" drug targets. EvoRx can rapidly generate new molecules to treat a wide range of diseases such as cancer, inflammation and cardiovascular disease. Compared to their competitors, EvoRx technology is faster, less expensive and has a higher success rate.

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