Federal grant program hits the road

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SBIRroadtourlogoOMAHA, Neb. (May 17, 2016)—There is $2.5 billion in federal grant money available through the SBIR/STTR program, and an upcoming “road show” will help researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs learn how they might make use of the funding opportunities.

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are managed through several federal agencies, and about a dozen will be on hand when the SBIR/STTR Road Tour rolls into Omaha on June 29. The all-day event will be held at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s College of Business Administration, from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The event is free and open to all, and attendees can expect to learn more about funding opportunities from specific federal agencies and how to win awards through those programs.

In addition to federal program overviews and presentations, some guests will also have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with program managers, where they can share their ideas and gain insights into the award process. Program managers from the USDA, NASA, NIH and the departments of the Navy and Air Force will all be on hand, to name a few.

The event is entirely free, but registration is required. Attendees will have the opportunity to schedule one-on-one meetings with specific program managers once they begin the registration process at http://nbdc.unomaha.edu/road-tour-tickets.

Registration will be open until June 28, but the deadline to sign up for one-on-one meetings is June 15.

The SBIR/STTR Road Show is a summer-long series planned for about 20 cities throughout the United States. Immediately prior to Omaha, the road show will be in Laramie, Wyo., on June 27 before swinging through Omaha and onto Wichita, Kan., and Oklahoma City. The road show will return to the Midwest on Aug. 17 and Aug. 18 when it arrives in in Ames, Iowa, and St. Louis, respectively.

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UNeMed hosts Partnering Summit

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UNMC researcher Rongshi Li, Ph.D., meets with Niall O'Donnell, of the venture capital firm RiverVest, during UNeMed's 2016 Industry Partnering Summit held at UNMC's Michael F. Sorrell Center on May 10.

UNMC researcher Rongshi Li, Ph.D., (left) meets with Niall O’Donnell, of the venture capital firm RiverVest, during UNeMed’s 2016 Industry Partnering Summit held at UNMC’s Michael F. Sorrell Center on May 10.

OMAHA, Neb. (May 10, 2016)—UNeMed’s first-ever Industry Partnering Summit Tuesday had all the appearances of success, leading officials toward making the event a regular offering in future years.

Pfizer representative Naglaa Mohamed meets with UNMC researcher Tammy Kielian (obscured) during UNeMed’s 2016 Industry Partnering Summit held at UNMC’s Michael F. Sorrell Center on May 10.

“We had 10 UNMC technologies on display, and several of the companies have expressed interest in learning more about them,” said UNeMed president and CEO Michael Dixon. “That’s a great day for us. These are new relationships that could move a UNMC innovation closer toward improving healthcare for everyone. ”

Sponsored by UNMC’s technology transfer and commercialization office, UNeMed, the Partnering Summit brought to campus several venture capital and pharmaceutical industry representatives from local, regional and international firms. The representatives were treated to an all-day event that featured departmental overviews and short presentations about the latest innovative therapies invented and developed by UNMC researchers. An additional nine UNMC technologies were made accessible to industrial and investment groups through a poster session at the end of the day.

UNMC researcher Joyce Solheim, Ph.D., breaks down her nantechnology approach for using immunotherapy for treating cancer during UNeMed's 2016 Industry Partnering Summit held at UNMC's Michael F. Sorrell Center on May 10.

UNMC researcher Joyce Solheim, Ph.D., breaks down her nantechnology approach for using immunotherapy to treat cancer during UNeMed’s 2016 Industry Partnering Summit held at UNMC’s Michael F. Sorrell Center on May 10.

“We received a lot of positive feedback from both the UNMC participants and the industry participants,” said UNeMed licensing manager, Matt Boehm, who conceived and organized the event. “We’ll see what comes out of it, but I think we accomplished what we set out to do, which was get people in the same room and have meaningful conversations.”

UNMC innovation presentations were a vaccine strategy for treating Parkinson’s; new antibacterial compounds; a gene therapy treatment for diabetic complications; a new formulation for treating biofilm infections; a nanoparticle immunotherapy for cancer; IKK-beta inhibitors; a new prodrug for the treatment of lupus; a new peptide for stimulating  the immune system; targeted radiopharmaceuticals for the treatment and diagnosis of cancer; and a nanoparticle to treat spinal cord injury.

Learn more about the technologies and find the full list of presentations in the event program here:

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Anyone can be an inventor. Period.

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by Amanda Hawley, UNeMed | May 6, 2016

anyone_inventorYes. Anyone can be an inventor.

All you need is: 1. a brain, and 2. a medium to harness your ideas. You can excavate your brain nuggets using a computer, a pen and paper, or like children, a rock and the side of a car.

Fruitful thinkers recognize gaps in knowledge, problems needing a solution, or the potential to make something better. We call them “inventors” and “innovators” because they create something not yet seen nor known.

Innovative thinking is best exemplified by so-called “life hacks“. A “hack” demonstrates an alternative use or design modification that enhances the functionality of an existing technology. Who knew that binder clips and toilet-paper tubes had so many unconventional applications? This form of innovative thinking is an early step toward uncovering a novel concept or imagining a new invention. The difficult task is knowing what to do next. Anyone can have a eureka moment, but for some, that is as far as the innovation goes.

Despite encouragement, many hesitate to cultivate an idea into reality.

As a UNeMed Licensing Associate, I’ve sat face-to-face with UNMC staff who limited themselves with disclaimers: “I’m not in a highly esteemed position…I don’t wear a white coat…I’ve never written a grant before.”

Some have admitted to feeling foolish when submitting an invention. Or, they deem their invention doomed before the ink has dried on the disclosure form.

Truth is, an idea cannot be considered bad if it never sees the light of day.

UNeMed provides inventors a New Invention Notification (NIN) form to describe their invention and the timeline of its creation. Using these details, UNeMed performs extensive research to determine whether your invention is distinct or has a doppelganger. UNeMed frees UNMC inventors to ponder breakthroughs while we evaluate the invention’s potential to strive over barriers.

Submitting eureka moments is now easier than ever with the UNMC mobile app “ideas” button.  The app is free and available for both Apple and Android platforms. Determining the future of your idea all starts with one click.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to overcome when bringing an idea to fruition may be yourself. A popular Chinese proverb states “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” If you never take the first step, you will never know where the journey could lead you.

An invention that could impact the world is instead thrown into the bowels of the junk closet. A novel concept that may surpass all imagination and revolutionize its field of use, will instead forever remain a “what-if.”

Anyone with an innovative idea can be an inventor.

The question is, what will you do with it?

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Dan Hoffman named CEO at Invest Nebraska Corporation

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Dan Hoffman

Dan Hoffman

LINCOLN, Neb. (April 27, 2016)—After serving less than a month as the interim Chief Executive Officer, Dan Hoffman was permanently promoted to the position by Invest Nebraska Corporation’s board of directors on April 12.

Hoffman was Invest Nebraska’s Chief Operating Officer until March when then-CEO Mark Crawford resigned to take a position with Intel Capital in California.

“We’re incredibly fortunate to have someone like Dan Hoffman take the reins of Invest Nebraska,” said Michael Dixon, Invest Nebraska’s chairman of the board. “His knowledge and skills are a natural fit as Invest Nebraska continues to grow and expand its suite of services to help develop high-growth, high-impact companies across Nebraska.”

Invest Nebraska is the state’s nonprofit venture development organization, using public and private funds to support and invest in Nebraska-based businesses. Created in 2002, Invest Nebraska has made an impact across the entire state, making 41 seed investments in businesses from Scottsbluff to Omaha.

“We’re agnostic when it comes to industries,” Hoffman said. “Our main objectives are to grow and diversify Nebraska’s economic engine by accelerating the development of new technology-based companies today. Invest Nebraska has made seed investments in a variety of early-stage businesses across the state in biotech, food/ag tech, manufacturing, and IT.”

Funded in part by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Invest Nebraska also plays a large role in developing the state’s entrepreneurial infrastructure needed to grow technology based companies. Last year, Invest Nebraska announced efforts to expand the state’s IT workforce through the TechHire Nebraska collaboration program in Kearney and Grand Island. TechHire is a nationwide initiative aimed at training and mentoring non-traditional candidates for entry-level positions in the IT industry.

Hoffman and Invest Nebraska also played a key role in building the entrepreneurial infrastructure for early-stage biotechnology companies. Funded by a $750,000 grant from the Economic Development Administration-U.S. Department of Commerce and $750,000 from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Biotech Connector is a collaborative effort that includes Nebraska Innovation Campus, the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Bio Nebraska. This 10,000 square foot wet-lab space located at Nebraska Innovation Campus will incubate biotech startups spun out of the university as well as early stage companies from the community.

Prior to joining Invest Nebraska in 2008, Hoffman served Governors Mike Johanns and Dave Heinemann as a senior policy adviser in the areas of economic development, labor and taxation.. Hoffman holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s degree in economics, both from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is a 2012 graduate of the Venture Capital Institute.

“Dan has been a consistent driver of Invest Nebraska’s growth and maturation over the past eight years,” said Dixon, who is also the president and CEO of UNeMed, the technology transfer office at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. “He’s the heart and soul of the company, and there couldn’t be a better person for the job.”

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Nominate UNMC alumni for Excellence in Innovation Award

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In recognition of its 25th anniversary later this year, UNeMed Corporation will present a new annual award during the 2016 Innovation Awards Ceremony and Reception on October 6. For the first time, UNeMed will recognize the innovative contributions made by University of Nebraska Medical Center alumni with the “Alumni Excellence in Innovation” award.

The award will be presented to the UNMC alumnus who best personifies the innovative spirit and has made a significant innovative contribution to society. UNeMed is currently seeking nominations of qualified individuals. Self nominations are acceptable, and all nominations are confidential.

All nominations will be retained and considered for future awards, if not selected in 2016.)

A qualified nominee will:
• be a UNMC alumnus
• have invented or helped invent a new technology that has made a positive impact on society
• have developed or helped develop a new product/procedure that people use

Downloadable PDF is here. Submit complete nominations to unemed@unmc.edu, or use the embedded form below.

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Millard South duo wins first 3D Invent-a-Thon

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In the foreground is the 2016 Invent-a-Thon trophy, a 3D-printed model of a light bulb that is lit with LEDs. In the background, an officer of UNMC's 3D Maker's Club, Will Payne, prepares one of the competitors’ presentations on the iEXCEL center’s MultiTaction Wall.

In the foreground is the 2016 Invent-a-Thon trophy, a 3D-printed model of a light bulb that is lit with LEDs. In the background, Will Payne, an officer of UNMC’s 3D Maker’s Club, prepares one of the competitors’ presentations on the iEXCEL center’s MultiTaction Wall.

OMAHA, Neb. (April 22, 2016)—A team of juniors from Millard South High School took top honors at the inaugural 3D Printing Invent-a-Thon held Friday at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Michael F. Sorrell Center.

The first-place design was for a device developed and 3D-printed in less than a day. All three participating teams were from local high schools, and were tasked to deliver a solution that would help people who suffer from multiple sclerosis. All teams were given two days to research the problem, develop a concept, and then design and print a prototype.

Harrison Pruitt, 17, and Ryan Hendrickson, 17, won first place for an exoskeleton that would help MS patients walk more easily. Pruitt’s and Hendrickson’s prototype resembled a jointed leg brace with a solid support strapped to the outside of the leg, from the heel to just above the knee.  Their device would include servomotors that would provide the wearer powered-assistance when walking.

Millard South junior Harrison Pruitt demonstrates the winning design of the 2016 3D Invent-a-Thon to a panel of judges and about 28 onlookers Friday evening at UNMC's Sorrell Center.

Millard South junior Harrison Pruitt demonstrates the winning design of the 2016 3D Invent-a-Thon to a panel of judges and about 28 onlookers Friday evening at UNMC’s Sorrell Center.

The runner-up designs also focused on helping MS patients’ difficultly with walking. One team proposed a counter-balancing device that would help offset the wearer losing balance. The other device was a self-contained seating system that strapped to the legs so the wearer could sit and rest virtually anywhere.

The 3D Invent-A-Thon was a part of the Nebraska Science Festival, week-long series of science-related events and activities held every year across the state. The Invent-A-Thon was one of several events held and hosted by UNMC. It was sponsored by the UNMC Makers club, the McGoogan Library of Medicine and UNMC’s technology transfer and commercialization office, UNeMed.

Tyler Scherr, one of the event’s organizers and an officer in the one-year-old 3D Maker’s Club, said the competition “exceeded expectations,” despite it being the first year of the event. But he was more impressed with the contestants, all juniors from Millard South and Brownell-Talbot High Schools.

“One team had their design and was ready to print in four hours. It made me feel old,” said Scherr, a 30-year-old UNMC grad student who complete his Ph.D. this spring. “I can almost guarantee that they would have beaten us (3D Makers Club) or at least printed faster.”

The winning team was awarded free tickets to the Nebraska Science Festival’s headline event, “An Evening with LeVar Burton.” Burton is best known for his work in television, particularly his portrayal of the popular character Geordi La Forge on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” The winners were also presented with a 3D-printed trophy that looked like a large light bulb mounted to a thick base. LED lights inside the based gave the bulb a soft glow.

Hendrickson said his teammate, Pruitt, should be the one to take the trophy home.

“He needs a lamp,” Hendrickson said.

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Technology Transfer Boot Camp accepting applications

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technology transfer bootcamp16OMAHA, Neb. (April 18, 2016)—Back by popular demand, UNeMed’s boot camp training program will be offered in June for those interested in technology transfer and related fields away from the research bench and other scientific pursuits.

UNeMed, the technology transfer and commercialization office for the University of Nebraska Medical Center, will host the program as a way to help anyone wanting to gain a wider range of skills and experience to match their scientific knowledge and training.

The four-week program will be held from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning June 7 and concluding June 30.

Grad students Richard Nelson and Simarjeet Negi look on during a session of UNeMed's first Technology Transfer Boot Camp, a week of imersive training sessions that dove into the commercialization of biomedical science.

Grad students Richard Nelson and Simarjeet Negi look on during a session at UNeMed’s first Technology Transfer Boot Camp last year.

The program is designed to provide information across a range of technology transfer relevant areas, including:
• Evaluating new inventions
• Intellectual property law
• Marketing and commercialization
• Contract negotiation

Rather than provide a series of lectures, UNeMed’s tech transfer boot camp will dive into more hands-on activities that will highlight real-word situations and help illustrate key aspects of the technology commercialization process.

Anyone at UNMC is encouraged to apply and participate free of charge. Those not affiliated with UNMC are also welcome, but will be charged $200 upon acceptance.

Applications to participate will be accepted until May 6 and will be reviewed in the order they are received until all spaces are filled. If the embedded form does not properly display below, the application may be accessed here.

More information about the program and the application process can be found at http://www.unemed.com/about-us/join-our-team.

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Biomed startup readies compounds to treat, diagnose cancers

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calidum_logoOMAHA, Nebraska (April 14, 2016)—A new startup company, Calidum Inc, was formed around an innovative approach for simultaneously treating and diagnosing some of the deadliest cancers, UNeMed announced today.

Calidum exclusively licensed the technology from UNeMed, the technology transfer and commercialization office for the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Calidum will commercialize the patented, innovative work of Janina Baranowska-Kortylewicz, Ph.D., a professor and radiochemist at UNMC. Along with her co-inventor, Zbigniew P. Kortylewicz, Ph.D., she developed novel compounds that target cancer cells with remarkable accuracy and efficiency.

Calidum’s compounds are considered “theranostic” because they can be used as a diagnostic tool and a therapeutic treatment at the same time. The compounds are tagged with a radioactive isotope that will help clinicians better diagnose, track and treat various cancers that include prostate, ovarian, and triple negative breast cancer—an aggressive subtype of breast cancer that is notoriously difficult to treat.

Calidum’s compounds could also be used on two rare forms of brain tumors, neuroblastoma and glioblastoma.

Due to the strong safety and activity data of Calidum’s lead compound, CDM-P123I, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a Phase-1 clinical trial in prostate cancer patients.

CDM-P123I specifically targets proteins on prostate cancer cells, thus it can both identify and effectively destroy those cells with dramatically reduced side-effects and higher specificity than current techniques. Calidum will begin its Phase 1 trial for prostate cancer within the next 12 months, while completing the necessary preclinical studies to initiate human trials for the additional targets in the next three years.

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NE SciFest Invent-a-Thon will coach 3D design, printing

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OMAHA, Neb. (April 12, 2016)—Modern innovation and prototype development will play center-stage during a series of public events at the University of Nebraska Medical Center when it hosts the 3D Printing Invent-a-Thon as part of the Nebraska Science Festival.

The Invent-a-Thon is weeklong series of public seminars and events centered on an invention competition among teams of high school students. The student teams are challenged to design and 3D print a solution to a real-world healthcare problem.

The Invent-a-Thon opens Monday, April 18 at 4:30 p.m. in the Michael F. Sorrell Center’s simulation center with educational seminars about 3D design, printing and product development, followed by a tour of the UNMC Maker space and 3D printers. The following day, a pair of lectures will explore a current medical problem in need of a solution and tutor guests on the use of essential software, including use of the iEXCEL center’s state-of-the-art MultiTaction Wall.


The teams will spend the next two days designing, refining and printing their solutions before the public is invited to observe the final presentations on Friday, April 22. Final presentations are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. in room 1012 of the Sorrell Center. Awards will be presented at approximately 5:30 p.m., followed by a short reception.

All Invent-a-Thon events are free, hosted and sponsored by the UNMC Makers club, the McGoogan Library of Medicine and UNMC’s technology transfer and commercialization office, UNeMed.

The first-place team will win tickets to the Nebraska Science Festival’s headline event, “An Evening with LeVar Burton.” Burton is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Geordi La Forge on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and as host of the popular PBS children’s series “Reading Rainbow.” He will present “Technology & Storytelling: Making a Difference in the Digital Age” at 7:30 p.m. at the Joslyn Art Museum.



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USPTO’s Kocialski engages onlookers at UNO forum

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The regional director for the Rocky Mountain Area of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Molly Kocialski, capped a three-day visit to Nebraska with a public forum at the University of Nebraska at Omaha's College of Business March 30, 2016.

OMAHA, Neb. (March 30, 2016)—The regional director for the Rocky Mountain Area of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Molly Kocialski, capped a three-day visit to Nebraska with a public forum at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s College of Business.

Kocialski didn’t get beyond more than 10 minutes into her planned remarks of the two-hour session before members of an estimated crowd of 50 began peppering the former patent attorney with questions. The planned lecture quickly evolved into an impromptu conversation that took onlookers on a sometimes amusing and fascinating and other times deep and spirited dive into the finer points of the U.S patent system.

Kocialski’s planned remarks began with what promised to be a list of what she called “Molly’s Rules” for intellectual property.

The first rule: He or she who creates, owns; absent an agreement to the contrary.

The second: Your words can and will be used against you.

She did not get the chance to list a third.

Instead, the conversation in Mammel Hall’s auditorium swirled between a wide range of intellectual property areas that ranged from so-called “patent trolls” and patentable subject matter to invention ownership, international property rights and trademarks.

Kocialski repeatedly cited the USPTO website as invaluable resource for intellectual property questions, specifically pointing the site search function as a useful tool. She also noted that every state has a pro bono service for intellectual property issues.

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USPTO official to discuss intellectual property issues in academia

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Molly Kocialski

OMAHA, Neb. (March 22, 2016)—Molly Kocialski, Regional Director of the Rocky Mountain Area of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, will address intellectual property issues in academia during a free and open forum Wednesday, March 30.

Kocialski will present “IP Law in the University Setting,” and is expected to illustrate the advantages of intellectual property protections in the academic environment where the culture rewards publishing first. She is also expected to discuss the USPTO‘s perspective on university tech transfer offices as a resource, what happens at the USPTO once an inventor files a patent application, and why a patent might be issued or denied.

The forum is free and open to any who wish to attend, and will be held in the Mammel Hall Auditorium (113) at the Pacific Street campus of the University of Nebraska at Omaha at 6708 Pine Street. The two-hour forum begins at 1:30 p.m., and free parking will also be available in lots 4, 5 and 6.

Kocialski’s seminar is part of a two-day visit at the University of Nebraska, beginning in Lincoln on Tuesday, March 29. Her visit with Omaha campus groups is sponsored in part by the Nebraska Business Development Center at UNO and UNeMed Corporation, the University’s technology transfer and commercialization office in Omaha.

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Want to be an entrepreneur? Get a job

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by Joe Runge, UNeMed | March 15, 2016

If you want to be an entrepreneur, then get a job.You don’t have to be Mark Zuckerberg. Entrepreneurs are not just misunderstood geniuses that leave college early to intensely build their big ideas. They are also professionals that have solved problems for their employers and launched new products. They are employees that have accumulated valuable skills and now want to put those skills to work for themselves.

There is no substitute for on-the-job learning. Running a business is dealing with all the unexpected challenges that present themselves every day. Businesses fail—no matter how brilliant the entrepreneur—when they succumb to the torrent of problems that confront them every day. Zuckerberg learned to solve all those problems as they came, but you can take time to learn the skills to solve those problems first. More professional training makes it more likely that you will solve the inevitable problems that confront your company.

If you want to be an entrepreneur, get a job. It is the best way to get the skills and experience you need.

For example, your second biggest investor is calling and all you have is bad news. The prototype doesn’t work and you can’t say when it will. That meeting with the publicly traded company that you hope is going to buy your startup will have to be rescheduled. You take a deep breath and answer the phone.

The investor hits the roof when you tell him. Pained, you rub your eyes and let him vent, searching through your Dropbox to find the revised development plan. The investor is in for more money than you have ever had in your life. He sits on the board of the publicly traded company that you want to sell your startup to.

A startup company is filled with high stakes moments. If you fail to win the investor over, right now, then that could be it for the company. He could stage a coup, withhold future investment or sour the company you want to buy your startup.

To succeed you need to have more than the technical understanding of the prototype and the managerial skills to create the plan to fix it, you need the interpersonal skills to win over the angry investor as well. It can take a career to build those skills but you do not have to be a retired CEO to be an entrepreneur. Take a job where you have ownership of a project, the need to satisfy stakeholders and an opportunity to make long term plans. Even if it is just for a few years the better our skills the less likely that your company will fail.

The investor lets you talk for quite a while, politely stopping you to ask if you think it will work. After a brief pause you tell him a story about how you used the same approach in a prior job. It was for a different kind of technology than the prototype but for a very similar problem. You are even asking the same contractor to build the parts.

The investor is quiet for a long time. You offer to update him in three weeks and schedule the call. He repeats his displeasure with you but thanks you for your honesty. He is uncertain about your plan but wants to see how it goes.

You hang up the phone and slump in your chair. It went better than you had thought — towards the bottom of your greatest hits of terrible phone calls. After a few minutes you stand up and circle the date on your calendar. In three weeks you better have something good to report.

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Virtual Incision tests surgical robots in humans

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UNMC surgeon Dmitry Oleynikov (left) and UNL engineer Shane Farritor test a surgical robot prototype during a recent trial in Omaha. Their collaboration created a startup company, Virtual Incision, which hopes to make major surgery—like a bowel resection—a laparoscopic procedure.

UNMC surgeon Dmitry Oleynikov (left) and UNL engineer Shane Farritor test their surgical robot prototype during a trial several months ago in Omaha. Their collaboration created a startup company, Virtual Incision, which hopes to make major surgery—like a bowel resection—a laparoscopic procedure.  (Photo/Charlie Litton)

LINCOLN, Neb. (March 1, 2016)—Virtual Incision Corp., a company founded by faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Nebraska Medical Center, has announced the successful first-in-human use of its miniaturized robot-assisted surgical device.

The device is designed for colon resection, a procedure to treat patients with lower gastrointestinal diseases including diverticulitis, pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions of the colon, inflammatory bowel disease and colon polyps that are too large to be removed endoscopically.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time an active miniaturized robot has performed complex surgical tasks with the robot inside a living human, which is a significant milestone in robotics and in surgery,” said Shane Farritor, a UNL professor of mechanical engineering who is Virtual Incision’s co-founder and chief technical officer.

The robot-assisted colon resection procedures were completed in Asunción, Paraguay, as part of the safety and feasibility trial for the technology. The surgeries were successful and the patients are recovering well, according to a news release from the company.

“Virtual Incision’s robot-assisted surgical device achieved proof-of-concept in highly complex abdominal procedures,” said head surgeon Dmitry Oleynikov, chief of minimally invasive surgery at UNMC and co-founder of Virtual Incision.

“Additionally, we verified that our extensive regimen of bench, animal, cadaver, biocompatibility, sterilization, electrical safety, software, human factors and other testing enabled the safe use of this innovative technology.”

Unlike today’s large, mainframe-like robots that reach into the body from outside the patient, Virtual Incision’s robot platform features a small, self-contained surgical device that is inserted through a single midline umbilical incision in the patient’s abdomen. Virtual Incision’s technology is designed to utilize existing tools and techniques familiar to surgeons, and does not require a dedicated operating room or specialized infrastructure. Because of its much smaller size, the robot is expected to be significantly less expensive than existing robotic alternatives for laparoscopic surgery. Virtual Incision’s technology promises to enable a minimally invasive approach to surgeries performed today with a large open incision.

The robot-assisted surgical device is investigational, and not commercially available. John Murphy, Virtual Incision’s CEO, said robot-assisted surgical are beneficial, but existing surgical robots have limitations that prevent pervasive use during certain surgeries, such as colon resection. The firm will build upon the positive completion of the feasibility study, as it works toward clearance for the system in the United States.

More than two million patients undergo colon resection procedures globally each year. About two-thirds of these procedures are performed via a completely open surgical procedure involving an 8- to 12-inch incision and up to six weeks of recovery time. Because the procedure is complicated, existing robot-assisted surgical devices are rarely used for colon resection surgeries, and manual laparoscopic approaches are only used in a third of cases.

In January, Virtual Incision and Nebraska Innovation Campus announced that the firm would be locating its headquarters at the new campus.

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UNeMed overhauls web design

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UNeMed Logo, two color — 25th Anniversary

OMAHA, Neb. (March 1, 2016)—UNeMed officially unveiled today an improved and updated website that features a more modern design while adding significantly more useful information for all UNMC personnel.

The most obvious change to the website are the visible design improvements, which includes a stylized logo that commemorates UNeMed’s 25th anniversary. The altered logo adds texts that read “25TH ANNIVERSARY” and “technology transfer for UNMC since 1991.”

UNeMed was officially incorporated on September 11, 1991, but will celebrate the milestone throughout the year with periodic features and events.

Built in conjunction with UNeMed’s 25th Anniversary, the redesigned website’s simplified interface should make finding important information quicker and easier. In particular, the new design improves the quality and presentation of UNeMed’s technology pipeline, which includes all manner of devices, tools, new drugs and other innovations and discoveries developed at UNMC.

The overhaul was intended to enhance the user experience with an upgraded interface that was more intuitive and streamlined for easier use. The design was also simplified in response to the growing use of mobile technology which often requires a user’s data plan to stream information to their devices. The new website is now “lighter,” which should require less data and decrease load times.

UNeMed always welcomes feedback and new ideas for added or improved web features. Submit our ideas or suggestions to unemed@unmc.edu or call at 402-559-2468.

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First-ever Omaha Startup Week is March 21-26

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OMAHA, Neb. (Feb, 12, 2016)—This March the first-ever Startup Week will be held in Omaha at a price that can’t be beat: Free.

According to the event website, Startup Week is a five-day series of events to celebrate the Omaha startup community, and it intended to “build momentum and opportunity around entrepreneurship.”

The event is still in the early planning stages, but people who sign up at the website will receive updates and notification when event registration opens.

According to a report at Silicon Prairie News, the Startup Week is expected to host more than 60 different events with about half of them organized into five separate tracks: youth, founder, corporate innovation, technology and marketing and sales.

Read Silicon Prairie’s full coverage here.


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Dixon testifies before state committees on pro-business bills

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by Charles Litton, UNeMed

LINCOLN, Neb. (Feb. 3, 2016)—UNeMed president and CEO Michael Dixon testified before Nebraska’s Executive Board of the Legislative Council Tuesday in favor of two bills currently before Nebraska’s 104th Legislature.

WEB_michael_dixon_2014Both bills deal with promoting, supporting and growing start-up and small businesses in the state. For more details of the hearing, see the Lincoln Journal-Star’s coverage here.

The Executive Board opened its afternoon committee hearing with the introduction of LB987 from State Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln. The bill calls for the creation of a steering committee to study Nebraska’s bioscience economy, and proposes to create a strategy for continued growth, development and commercialization of Nebraska discoveries and innovations.

The bill adds to similar economic development measures, such as the Talent & Innovation Initiative, which includes the Business Innovation Act. Those measures have dramatically improved Nebraska’s biotech business climate in recent years, but more work can be done, Dixon said.

“It’s crucial that we not rest on our laurels and become complacent,” he told the committee.

The bill would require the committee to produce its report before the close of the first 105th legislative session next year.

Dixon, who testified on behalf of the University of Nebraska, concluded his remarks to the committee: “At UNMC we have a stand. We lead the world in transforming lives to create a healthy future through extraordinary care, discovery and learning.

“When we take that stand, it means we don’t rest until we transform lives and have a significant impact on health. It isn’t just about getting grants or publishing papers or training students.

“To accomplish that stand we are driven to develop our discoveries and to make sure they have a significant impact not only on the health of all Nebraskans, but the world.”

Dixon also later testified before the same committee in favor of LB1083, the Next Generation Business Growth Act.

The Next Generation Business Growth Act, introduced by Sen. Matt Williams of Gothenburg, would create a Venture Development and Innovation Task Force that will “develop a statewide strategic plan to cultivate a climate of entrepreneurship and innovation.” The task force would study and review current and previous state programs, outline best practices in other states and perform an economic impact analysis of the Business Innovation Act.

Dixon’s testimony was related to his role as Chair of the Board for Invest Nebraska Corporation, the state’s public-private venture capital entity.

He is expected to testify again today on behalf of Invest Nebraska before the Appropriations Committee in favor of LB1028, which would extend the term and funding of the Business Innovation Act.

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