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Pin Drop wins GRA/TAG 2011Business Launch Competition

Pin Drop, a startup which provides a reliable and robust Caller-ID alternative to secure phone transactions, is the winner of the 2011 Business Launch Competition.  The company will take home $50,000 cash prize and some $200,ooo in donated services.

Selecting the winner was an all-star panel of venture capitalists and investors from across the nation including Bob Bozeman, General Partner, Angel Investors, LP – San Francisco, CA;  John Glushik, Investment Team, Intersouth Partners – Durham, NC;  Wayne Hunter, Managing Partner, Harbert Management Corporation – Birmingham, ALAllen Moseley, Partner, Noro-Moseley Partners – Atlanta, GA;  Tripp Rackley, Senior Vice President, Qualcomm – Atlanta, GA; Ron Verni, former CEO of Sage Software.

Now in its sixth year, the GRA/TAG Business Launch Competition supports Georgia’s startup community by helping local entrepreneurs launch their businesses.  Since its founding, the contest has become one of the largest of its kind in the nation, providing a total of $450,000 in cash and more than $1,000,000 in donated services and mentoring more 130 Georgia entrepreneurs.

May 24, 2011 at 2:26 pm Leave a comment

Georgia Tech forms Electronic/Nanotech Institute

Georgia Tech Executive Vice President for Research Stephen Cross today announced the formation of the Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology (IEN).  According to Cross, IEN will consolidate multiple electronics and nanotechnology research centers and programs to  leverage existing research expertise and resources.

To be led by Executive Director Mark Allen, IEN will enhance and support programs in biomedicine, materials, electronics and nanotechnology.  Over the past 15 years, the Georgia Research Alliance has helped to recruit a cadre of GRA Eminent Scholars in these areas and has invested in a wide array of sophisticated research tools.  Read more >

April 11, 2011 at 11:25 am Leave a comment

Perfecting the sandwich bun

Sandwich buns don’t usually spring to mind as a subject of cutting-edge research.  But consistency in the baking process has been a challenge.

Flowers Industries in Tifton, Georgia, is known worldwide as an innovator in the the baking industry.  For the past year, Flowers has been working with the Georgia Tech Research Institute to automate systems for production and quality control of sandwich buns.  The program has had excellent results, allowing automated inspection of the product as it bakes and adjusting oven temperature as needed.  Read more>

March 16, 2011 at 11:42 am Leave a comment

Cutting-edge technology drives discovery

The Georgia Research Alliance invests in cutting-edge research tools at its partner universities to drive innovative research and development.  These laboratory discoveries, in turn, often become the platforms on which new companies are created.

Today,  two of those investments — advanced cryo-electron microscopes —  were unveiled at Emory University.

One of the microscopes, equipped with phase plate technology, is one of only two such instruments in the United States and just a few in the world. Both instruments use cryo-imaging, which offers layer-by-layer views of a frozen specimen, providing ultra-high-resolution.

The instruments will be located at the Robert P. Apkarian Integrated Electron Microscopy Core (located in Emerson Hall), under the supervision of core director Elizabeth R. Wright, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine and a Georgia Research Alliance Distinguished Investigator.

“We are excited about establishing Emory as a center for cryo-electron microscopy and looking forward to making these resources available to investigators at Emory and within the region,” Wright says.

February 25, 2011 at 3:21 pm Leave a comment

Helping industry save $$$

Sentrinsic, a GRA VentureLab company, is helping industry save energy and reduce costs.  The company developed and sells “special sensor technology for managing fluids running through heavy duty industrial pumps in large scale industrial systems.”  Based on technology originated at Georgia Tech, the company was propelled by early GRA VentureLab grants and an investment from the GRA Venture Fund, LLC.  The Atlanta Business Chronicle featured the company’s success in last week’s edition.  See below.

Sentrinsic sensors equal energy, cash savings

By Doug DeLoach
Contributing Writer

With the cost of doing business on the rise in many industries, energy conservation and savings have becomee more critical than ever — a fact that’s spurred one local company to carve out a market niche. 

Started in 2008 by three Georgia Tech graduates, Atlanta-based Sentrinsic Inc. developed a special sensor technology for managing fluids running through heavy-duty industrial pumps in large-scale industrial systems.

The energy savings resulting from implementing Sentrinsic’s sensors can be as much as 50 percent or more, depending on the application.  In an industrial setting, the level of savings performance can amount to hundreds of thousands — even millions of dollars over time.

Company founders CEO Mike Orndorff, Chief Operating Officer David Beck and Chief Technology Officer Dr. Haihong Zhu met at Tech.  The two MBA students were looking for a project with commercial potential:  Zhu’s  modeling program was deemed a likely candidate.

As the project progressed, Zhu’s program for calculating physical properties and effects of certain materials proved too costly to produce.  However, the group decided a new type of sensor developed for the project would be relatively easy and cost-effective to manufacture.

The sensor became the flagship product of a new company, which was entered into the 2005 Georgia Tech Business Plan Competition/  After taking first place in the Most Fundable category and earning a $15,000 service package, Sentrinsic was on its way.

In the beginning, Sentrinsic encountered entrenched and conservative product development companies, which were reluctant to adopt the Sentrinsic sensor.

“They would rather endure the headache of working with a product that might be inferior in terms of its performance rather than risk their reputation on a startup,” Orndorff said.  The solution was to partner up with IDEX Corp., one of the largest and best-known industry firms, which was open to exploring the potential benefits of the Sentrinsic technology.

The two companies worked out a developmental partnership.  Sentrinsic’s patented position feedback system is now embedded in IDEX’s energy-efficient, AirVantage products.

“We originally chose to work with Sentrinsic because we recognized their expertise in control systems and new product development,” said Mark McCourt, director of innovation at IDEX.  “We’ve continued to work with them because they’ve delivered on their promises.”

“Another factor in Sentrinsic’s success was early assistance and mentoring through VentureLab, a Georgia Rsearch Alliance program.  “Sentrinsic is somewhat of a poster child for us,” said Mike Cassidy, GRA CEO and president.




February 3, 2011 at 2:50 pm Leave a comment

Researchers and GRA VentureLab startup collaborate on new treatment option for ovarian cancer

According to a posting on the Georgia Tech Newsroom Web page, researchers are exploring the use of magnetic nanoparticles engineered to capture cancer cells and the use of an outside-the-body filtration system to remove the captured cancer cells.  John McDonald, a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Biology and chief research scientist of the Ovarian Cancer Institute and postdoctoral fellow Ken Scarberry are developing the system with GRA VentureLab company Sub-Micro.  The Georgia Research Alliance also has provided support for the underlying research.

In mice with free-floating ovarian cancer cells, a single treatment with an early prototype of the nanoparticle-magnetic filtration system captured enough of the cancer cells that the treated mice lived nearly a third longer than untreated ones. The researchers expect multiple treatments to extend the longevity benefit, though additional research will be needed to document that — and determine the best treatment options.

The researchers hope to have a prototype circulation and filtration device ready for testing within three years. After that will come studies into the best treatment regimen, examining such issues as the number of magnetic nanoparticles to use, the number of treatments and treatment spacing. If those are successful, the company will work with the FDA to design human clinical trials.  Read more>

January 27, 2011 at 4:04 pm Leave a comment

Molecules on the move

GRA Eminent Scholar Jeff Skolnick and his colleagues at Georgia Tech are using large-scale computer simulations to identify key factors affecting how molecules move within cells.  Understanding in detail inactions in the crowded environment within cells is a step that may lead to vital information for developing new therapeutic drugs and for better understanding how disease states develop.  The researchers hope ultimately to develop a complete simulation of cellular processes.  For a detailed look at their work, see John Toon’s article “Traffic in Cells” in Georgia Tech’s Research Horizons magazine (p 20-21).

January 26, 2011 at 4:41 pm Leave a comment

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