Two Startups Based on Rutgers Inventions Chosen as Best University Startups
The principals of two new companies built on Rutgers inventions gave presentations September 20 at University Startup Demo Day, an event in the U.S. Capitol Building for members of Congress and staff, as well as venture capitalists, angel investors and corporate representatives.
The two Rutgers spinouts are Celvive Inc., which is refining a stem-cell technology for regenerative medicine applications, such as helping patients recover from spinal cord injury, and XPEED Turbine Technology LLC, (XTT) which is developing aerodynamic technology that could reduce the cost of wind energy by improving wind turbine efficiency and increasing annual energy production.
Celvive’s founder is Hatem Sabaawy, assistant professor of medicine at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and director of the school’s Cell and Gene Therapy Good Manufacturing Practice Facility. XTT’s co-founder is Javier Diez, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the Rutgers School of Engineering.
University Demo Day is sponsored by the National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer. The Council selected Celvive and XTT as two of the nation’s 36 Best University Startups for 2016, which were invited to Demo Day.
Christopher J. Molloy, Rutgers’ senior vice president for research and economic development, said the spinouts demonstrate the university’s strengths in life science and technology.
“Professors Diez and Sabaawy exemplify the many brilliant and inventive faculty researchers at Rutgers, and I congratulate them for this recognition,” Molloy said. “Rutgers innovation has led to more than 50 currently active startup companies, and we are working hard to support our faculty’s research and their technology commercialization efforts.”
Rutgers’ inventors earned 155 patents worldwide in FY2016, including 91 U.S. patents. Rutgers ranks #27 among the “Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted U.S. Patents,” according to the National Academy of Inventors.
Celvive Inc. is refining a technology that its founders have developed for the isolation and use of stem cells for regenerative medicine applications, including helping neural regeneration in patients with spinal cord injury. The Rutgers-patented technology uses a device with multiple closed-bag systems to isolate specific adult stem cells from the patient’s own bone marrow. The concept has been tested in large animal models and in randomized controlled phase I/II clinical trial conducted overseas and included 70 chronic spinal cord injury patients; nearly half of them had neurological improvements. The results demonstrate the safety and efficacy of the new technology.
There is no cure for spinal cord injury, but function can be improved through a combination of molecular, cellular and rehabilitative physiotherapy. By helping to augment axonal sparing and remyelination with stem cells and their secretory products, Celvive’s new approach to treat spinal cord injury overcomes many of the physical and chemical barriers of repair.
Hatem Sabaawy, the company’s scientific advisory board chair, was the original principal investigator of the successful international trials for the Celvive technology, which tested the repair of spinal cord injuries in numerous animal models before patients. The results from different models clearly show that stem cells and their secretory products initiate regeneration of damaged tissue that is particularly useful in spinal cord injury repair and could be used for other tissue regeneration studies. The research was supported by grants from the FM Kirby Foundation, New Jersey Health Foundation, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, N.J. Commission on Spinal Cord Research and National Science Foundation.
XPEED Turbine Technology, LLC (XTT), is developing aerodynamic flow deflector technology that will reduce the cost of wind energy by improving wind turbine efficiency and increasing annual energy production. The new technology can be applied to any currently operating turbine, does not require any external power to function and can be combined with vortex generators.
The aerodynamic deflector technology, which has been validated in wind tunnel and field testing, generates extra torque from the radial component of the velocity and can be easily adapted to work with off-grid small turbines, distributed generation, or utility generation. An international patent is pending for the technology, which the company has licensed exclusively from Rutgers.
Arturo Villegas, who earned a doctorate in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Rutgers in 2014, is co-founder and chief executive officer of XTT. Javier Diez is the technology’s co-inventor and XTT’s chief technology officer.
The company’s goal is to unite the research done at Rutgers department of mechanical and aerospace engineering with the wind turbine industry to create a more efficient wind turbine model for common and easy use. Founded in 2014 and located in Piscataway, N.J., XTT has received a $150,000 award from the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. With the SBIR funds, the company intends to continue research and development to foster more efficient wind energy production with reduced cost, thus creating new jobs in the industry and reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels. Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation provided the startup with internal funding for their deflector work, which allowed them to do their initial testing in the Appalachian Mountains, according to Diez.