UNeMed releases 2020 annual report

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2020 Annual Report Cover

View or download the 2020 Annual Report here.

OMAHA, Nebraska (Oct. 30, 2020)—UNeMed released today its 2020 annual report, which details UNeMed’s key metrics, and highlights notable achievements during the fiscal year ending in 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic loomed large for the report, dominating the cover design while also proving to be a key content feature within.

In his open letter to readers, UNeMed President and CEO Michael Dixon, PhD, noted that the pandemic forced the cancellation of the MidWest Drug Development Conference and pushed the annual Innovation Week events into the virtual realm. Yet, despite all the cancellations, postponements and fears for health and safety, inventors at UNMC and UNO seemed to flourish.

“From the beginning of the outbreak, inventors at the University of Nebraska turned their ingenuity on the novel coronavirus responsible for the pandemic,” he wrote. “The result was a flurry of innovation that not only kept our staff as busy as ever, but helped thousands across this planet fight COVID-19.”

He goes on to note that the 73 new inventions submitted during the second half of the 2020 fiscal year is a new UNeMed record, and 28 of those inventions were directly related to fighting the pandemic. A complete list of those pandemic-related innovations is included in the report.

The second-half burst of innovation fueled 105 invention submissions in 2020, which is the third-most since UNeMed was founded in 1991.

Dixon concludes his letter with a thank-you:

“So, rather than pat ourselves on the back for doing what we’re supposed to do, I’d rather take this moment—on behalf of everyone at UNeMed—to thank all those at UNMC, UNO and Nebraska Medicine for all they’ve done in 2020 to help make this world a little bit better.

“If there’s one thing to take away from the year that was 2020, it should be that.”

Other metrics highlighted in the annual report include patents, agreements, revenue and other benchmarks that measure UNeMed’s commercialization efforts.

The annual report also highlights the 2019 Innovation Awards and UNeMed’ relationship with UNeTech. UNeTech is the University’s startup accelerator/incubator program, aimed toward helping startups linked to University innovations.

Finally, several key technologies currently available for licensing are also included in the report.

The report can be viewed online, and printed copies are also available. Contact UNeMed to receive a free printed copy.

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Pandemic innovations highlight 2020 Innovation Awards

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OMAHA, Nebraska (October 29, 2020)—UNeMed’s annual Innovation Week festivities concluded today with its 2020 Research Innovation Awards Ceremony, which featured a Most Promising New Invention, the Startup of the Year and the Innovators of the Year.

“The pandemic did not slow down innovation here, in fact it added fuel to the fire,” UNeMed President and CEO Michael Dixon, PhD, said during the 40-minute presentation. “We saw more than twice as many new inventions (73) in the last two quarters of 2020, making it the most productive six-month span in our history.”

For just the second time in the event’s 14-year history, UNeMed recognized the efforts of a group of inventors as the 2020 Innovators of the Year. More specifically, the award went to all UNMC and UNO faculty, students and staff who contributed a new invention related to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic during the fiscal year ending in 2020.

In just a few months, 44 University inventors combined their expertise and experience to create 28 new inventions related to the pandemic.

Download the 2020 Innovation Awards program.

Download the 2020 Innovation Awards program.

Most of those innovations focused on helping protect healthcare providers, and some were fast-tracked to market and used throughout the world. For example, UNMC inventors created an intubation shield that several American hospitals and care facilities purchased. Another device, an infectious disease filter adapter for air masks, sold in bulk quantities to the U.S. Air Force.

Other innovations included mobile applications to help track or screen the pandemic; new mouse models and assays to help improve study of the novel coronavirus responsible for the pandemic; solutions to personal protective equipment shortages; and solutions to limit the spread of infectious disease.

The Most Promising New Invention was the “Anterior Cervical Space Spreader,” a device born from the collaboration of surgeons Joseph McMordie, MD, and Daniel Surdell, MD. Their device is a new approach to c-spine retractors that could help future surgeons increase their access during complicated and delicate neurosurgeries.

Sponsored by UNeTech, the Startup of the Year award went to BreezMed, founded by UNMC psychiatrist Stephen Salzbrenner. BreezMed was founded on a software solution Dr. Salzbrenner created to help doctors and pharmacists better manage patient prescriptions.

The Innovation Awards confers recognition for all UNMC and UNO inventors that, during the previous fiscal year, submitted a new invention, were issued a United States patent or had a technology licensed.

A video of the 2020 Innovation Awards ceremony is also available through UNeMed’s YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/YKRszu4ajkU.

More information about Innovation Week and the Innovation Awards ceremony, including its history and awardees, can be found at https://www.unemed.com/innovation-week.

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Innovation Awards ceremony is today

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OMAHA, Nebraska (October 29, 2020)—Innovation Week concludes today at noon with the 2020 Research Innovation Awards ceremony.

The Awards ceremony can be viewed via Zoom at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20awards.

The awards will be held via Zoom, and will honor all UNMC and UNO faculty, students and staff who submitted a new invention, were awarded a U.S. Patent or had a technology licensed during the 2020 fiscal year. UNeMed will also name the year’s Most Promising New Invention and will announce the “Innovator of the Year.”

UNeMed is the technology transfer and commercialization office for UNO and UNMC, and sponsors Innovation Week each year as a way to celebrate the recognition innovation and discovery at the University of Nebraska.

Innovation Week began on Monday with a panel discussion about SBIR/STTR funding, and continued on Tuesday with a seminar about women in STEM fields and panel discussion about local web and app development services. Then, on Wednesday, UNeMed hosted another panel discussion, this one about local prototyping and manufacturing resources.

More information about Innovation Week and the Innovation Awards can be found at unemed.com/innovation-week.

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Getting early advice is key for prototyping, manufacturing panelists

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OMAHA, Nebraska (October 28, 2020)—UNeMed’s Innovation Week continued today with a panel discussion that looked at manufacturing and prototyping resources for inventors and entrepreneurs.

In Zoom meeting that ran a little under an hour, an expert panel discussed the steps and processes involved with getting an idea from the back of a napkin to a product on the market.

“When they come with a napkin, a lot more work has to be done before you get it pushed through, that’s for sure,” said panelist Mark Keffler, the CEO at Omaha Custom Manufacturing. “When we get a prototype in here, the first thing we have to do is dissect the prototype, figure out what makes it tick.”

The other panelists all agreed that it is usually best to bring in experts to guide the design and prototyping process as early as possible.

As the panelists described, and advanced protortpy might look and function well, but setting it up for large-scale production might not be feasible. Sometime and inventor or business owner might have a product that just can’t be easily made with current manufacturing techniques, or it would be far too expensive. When that happens, the panelists all agreed, then the process has to start over, nearly from scratch.

The entire panel discussion is available on UNeMed’s YouTube channel, and can be viewed at https://youtu.be/B-IXgCtVZ-c.

Other panelists include Rakesh Srivastava and Kyler Meredith from the Hastings-based Shabri; Brian Knarr and Travis Vanderheyden from UNO’s Machining and Prototyping Core; and Tyler Keffeler at Omaha Custom Manufacturing.

Innovation Week concludes tomorrow with the Innovation Awards ceremony at noon.

The awards will be held via Zoom, and will honor all UNMC and UNO faculty, students and staff who submitted a new invention, were awarded a U.S. Patent or had a technology licensed during the 2020 fiscal year. UNeMed will also name the year’s Most Promising New Invention and will announce the “Innovator of the Year.”

The Awards ceremony can be viewed via Zoom at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20awards.

More information about Innovation Week and the Innovation Awards can be found at unemed.com/innovation-week.

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Prototyping, manufacturing panel starts at noon

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OMAHA, Nebraska (October 28, 2020)—Innovation Week continues today with an expert panel examining the local resources available to researchers, inventors and entrepreneurs interested in developing software and web applications.

This will be a virtual event hosted via Zoom, begins at noon and is expected to run about an hour. The discussion is free and open to all at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20WebDev.

Planned panelists are UNO’s Brian Knarr, Omaha Manufacturing’s Tyler Keffeler and Shabri’s Kyler Meredith.

Brian Knarr

Brian Knarr

Brian Knarr, PhD, is an Assistant Professor and the Director of the Machining and Prototyping Core in the Department of Biomechanics at UNO. His research takes an interdisciplinary approach by combining clinical, experimental, computational, and device design concepts to develop clinically translatable rehabilitation.

Tyler Keffeler is Vice President of Omaha Custom Manufacturing, a full-service contract manufacturing company.  As a member of the executive management team, he oversees business development and project management.

Kyler Meredith specializes in rapid prototyping, batch manufacturing and product development, using additive manufacturing methods to bring designs to life.

Tyler Keffeler

Tyler Keffeler

Innovation Week concludes on Thursday, Oct. 29, with the Innovation Awards ceremony at noon.

The awards will be held via Zoom, and will honor all UNMC and UNO faculty, students and staff who submitted a new invention, were awarded a U.S. Patent or had a technology licensed during the 2020 fiscal year. UNeMed will also name the year’s Most Promising New Invention and will announce the “Innovator of the Year.”

The Awards ceremony can be viewed via Zoom at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20awards.

Kyler Meredith

Kyler Meredith

Innovation Week opened on Monday with a panel discussion about SBIR/STTR funding, and continued on Tuesday with a seminar about women in STEM fields and panel discussion about local web and app development services.

More information about Innovation Week and the Innovation Awards can be found at unemed.com/innovation-week.

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Web, app development experts meet for panel discussion

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OMAHA, Nebraska (October 27, 2020)—UNeMed’s Innovation Week continued today with a panel discussion that focused on local resources for web and app development for academic innovators and entrepreneurs.

In an hour-long seminar held via Zoom, the expert panel discussed the type of services they offer; what startups and entrepreneurs can expect when looking into software applications and innovations; and offered advice on how to get started on a web or app development project.

Among the panel’s recommendations included advice for academic researchers and innovators: Try not doing everything.

Panelist Brad Nietfeldt, of the Omaha Media Group, said that a business owner should focus their time in other areas, rather than diving deep into app development.

“From a cost perspective,” he said, “it’s probably to your benefit to hire somebody versus you trying to do it, and stealing your time away from something else, like growing and scaling the company.”

One major benefit to working with a third party like Omaha Media Group, Appsky or the University of Nebraska at Omaha, is the specialized set of expertise those groups can bring to a project, said panelist Deepak Khazanchi, PhD, a professor in UNO’s College of Information Science & Technology.

“We are in that middle place where we can provide expertise on actually building algorithms that address a research question, but that is a very collaborative enterprise,” he said. “And then we can build a commercial tool out of that.”

Taylor Korenzky, the CEO and founder of Appsky, was the remaining panelist, and told the audience that listening to potential users should be the first step.

“My advice is to talk to end users before you talk to me,” he said. “You’ll learn a ton with their insights into the problem you’re trying to solve, and then it’s much easier for a development company.”

The entire panel discussion is available on UNeMed’s YouTube channel, and can be viewed at https://youtu.be/kjCkPjVpnT0.

Innovation Week continues tomorrow with another panel discussion, this one covering local prototyping and manufacturing options on Wednesday, Oct. 28 at noon. Open and free to all, that panel discussion can be viewed via Zoom at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20protopanel.

Finally, Innovation Week concludes on Thursday, Oct. 29, with the Innovation Awards ceremony at noon.

The awards will be held via Zoom, and will honor all UNMC and UNO faculty, students and staff who submitted a new invention, were awarded a U.S. Patent or had a technology licensed during the 2020 fiscal year. UNeMed will also name the year’s Most Promising New Invention and will announce the “Innovator of the Year.”

The Awards ceremony can be viewed via Zoom at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20awards.

More information about Innovation Week and the Innovation Awards can be found at unemed.com/innovation-week.

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Two I-Week events planned for today

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OMAHA, Nebraska (October 27, 2020)—Innovation Week continues today with two virtual events, a seminar about women in STEM fields and panel discussion about web and app development.

The seminar about Nebraska women in STEM is sponsored by Nebraska BIO, where UNO’s Christine Cutucache, PhD, will present, “Leadership and Mentorship in STEM: The Critical Need and Action Plan” at 10:30-11:45 a.m. That event is free for students, but $25 for non-students. Registration is required: http://bit.ly/2020NebSTEM.

Dr. Cutucache is the Haddix Community Chair of Science, an Associate Professor of Biology and the Director of the UNO STEM TRAIL Center at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. A tumor immunologist turned science educator, Dr. Cutucache has secured $10.9 million in extramural funding, has published 34 peer-reviewed articles on her research, and was selected as a 2020 Fulbright Scholar.

The STEM talk will be closely followed by UNeMed’s panel group on local web and application development, beginning at noon via Zoom (http://bit.ly/iWEEK20WebDev).

Taylor Korensky

Taylor Korensky

Planned panelists for that discussion are the Omaha Media Group’s Brad Nietfeldt, UNO’s Deepak Khazanchi, PhD, and Appsky’s Taylor Korensky.

A founding partner of Omaha Media Group, Brad Nietfeldt is a multi-award winning web development, digital marketing and search engine strategist. He develops innovative marketing solutions for C-Suite and Executive Leadership to aid in the promotion of both private and public sectors.

Deepak Khazanchi, PhD, is Professor of Information Systems and Quantitative Analysis in the College of Information Science & Technology at UNO. Dr. Khazanchi works closely with many UNMC researchers on designing, developing and deploying technology interventions.

Taylor Korensky is Appsky’s founder and CEO, and holds a degree in IT Innovation from UNO. He is particularly passionate about the Lean Startup method, having competed, won, and judged several pitch competitions. This gives him unique insight into the product development lifecycle and understanding the critical components of a successful business idea.

The panel discussion is free and open to all.

Innovation Week will continue on Wednesday with another panel discussion, this one covering local prototyping and manufacturing options on Wednesday, Oct. 28 at noon. Open and free to all, that panel discussion can be viewed via Zoom at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20protopanel.

Finally, Innovation concludes on Thursday, Oct. 29, with the Innovation Awards ceremony at noon.

The awards will be held via Zoom, and will honor all UNMC and UNO faculty, students and staff who submitted a new invention, were awarded a U.S. Patent or had a technology licensed during the 2020 fiscal year. UNeMed will also name the year’s Most Promising New Invention and will announce the “Innovator of the Year.”

The Awards ceremony can be viewed via Zoom at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20awards.

Innovation Week opened on Monday with a panel discussion about SBIR/STTR funding.

More information about Innovation Week and the Innovation Awards can be found at unemed.com/innovation-week.

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SBIR panel opens Innovation Week

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OMAHA, Nebraska (October 26, 2020)—UNeMed kicked off Innovation Week today with a panel discussion about SBIR/STTR grant funding for academic innovators and entrepreneurs.

In a little less than hour, the expert panel discussed the broad range of applications of Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer grant programs.

SBIR grants help small businesses and startups support additional research and development on projects with commercial potential, while STTR grants help commercial and nonprofit research institutions bring their collaborations to market. For university researchers, SBIR/STTR funding could help support things like prototyping, software development, additional experiments or proof of concept testing.

Among the panelists were Becky Aistrup, a managing partner at BBC Entrepreneurial Training & Consulting who is a highly-regarded SBIR/STTR program expert, regularly speaking at national conferences and frequently serving on proposal review panels for NSF, DOE and USDA.

She noted that before applying for SBIR or STTR funding, it’s important that applicants make sure they are ready.

“Before you apply you have to have your business formed and your concepts in hand,” she said during the virtual event.

For panelist Josh Nichol-Caddy, the best way to begin a grant application through the SBIR/STTRR programs is easy:

“Start with an email and a conversation, and we’ll go from there,” sad Nichol-Caddy, who leads the Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program for the state of Nebraska.

The entire panel discussion is available on UNeMed’s YouTube channel, and can be viewed at https://youtu.be/4rsamgpQKRk.

Other panelists included UNeTech’s Joe Runge, UNO’s Christine Cutucache and Proven Ventures’ Nathan Preheim.

Runge is the associate director of the UNeTech Institute, an incubator/accelerator focused on startups with ties to the University of Nebraska.

Cutucache, Ph.D., is the Haddix Community Chair of Science, an Associate Professor of Biology and the Director of the UNO STEM TRAIL Center at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Preheim is the founder of Proven Ventures, a pre-seed venture debt fund designed to catalyze and capitalize high-growth companies based in Nebraska.

Innovation Week continues tomorrow with a seminar about Nebraska women in STEM at 10:30 a.m. Sponsored by Nebraska BIO, UNO’s Christine Cutucache, PhD, will present, “Leadership and Mentorship in STEM: The Critical Need and Action Plan” at 10:30-11:45 a.m. That event is free for students, but $25 for non-students. Registration is required: http://bit.ly/2020NebSTEM.

Later on Tuesday, UNeMed will empanel another group experts to weigh in on local web and app development resources. That panel begins at noon at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20WebDev.

On Wednesday, is another panel discussion, this one covering local prototyping and manufacturing options on Wednesday, Oct. 28 at noon. Open and free to all, that panel discussion can be viewed via Zoom at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20protopanel.

Finally, Innovation Week concludes on Thursday, Oct. 29, with the Innovation Awards ceremony at noon.

The awards will be held via Zoom, and will honor all UNMC and UNO faculty, students and staff who submitted a new invention, were awarded a U.S. Patent or had a technology licensed during the 2020 fiscal year. UNeMed will also name the year’s Most Promising New Invention and will announce the “Innovator of the Year.”

The Awards ceremony can be viewed via Zoom at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20awards.

More information about Innovation Week and the Innovation Awards can be found at unemed.com/innovation-week.

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I-Week begins today with SBIR/STTR panel

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OMAHA, Nebraska (October 26, 2020)—Innovation Week begins today with a panel discussion about SBIR/STTR grants.

The event is free and open to all, and will be held at noon via Zoom at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20SBIR.

Joe Runge

Expected to run about an hour, the panel will examine the merits of the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer grant programs. SBIR grants help small businesses and startups support additional research and development on projects with commercial potential, while STTR grants help commercial and nonprofit research institutions bring their collaborations to market. For university researchers, SBIR/STTR funding could help support things like prototyping, software development, additional experiments or proof of concept testing.

Planned panelists include UNeMed’s Joe Runge, BBCetc’s Beck Aistrup, UNO’s Christine Cutucache, Proven Ventures’ Nathan Preheim and the Nebraska Business Development Center’s Josh Nichol-Caddy.

Becky Aistrup

Becky Aistrup

Joe Runge is the associate director of the UNeTech Institute, an incubator/accelerator focused on startups with ties to the University of Nebraska. Runge also serves on the SBIR/STTR advisory panel for the Nebraska Business Development Center and is a recipient a Ewing Marian Kauffman Foundation Heartland Challenge grant to expand SBIR/STTR utilization in the heartland region.

Beck Aistrup joined BBC Entrepreneurial Training & Consulting in 2012 and advanced to a managing partner and co-owner in 2016. She is a well-known SBIR/STTR program expert, regularly speaking at national conferences and frequently serving on proposal review panels for NSF, DOE and USDA. She conducts SBIR/STTR-related training for BBCetc clients throughout the U.S. and consults one-on-one with companies on proposal development, offering special expertise in the DoD, NIH, NASA and DHS programs.

Christine Cutucache, Ph.D., is the Haddix Community Chair of Science, an Associate Professor of Biology and the Director of the UNO STEM TRAIL Center at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. A tumor immunologist turned science educator, Dr. Cutucache has secured $10.9 million in extramural funding, has published 34 peer-reviewed articles on her research, and was selected as a 2020 Fulbright Scholar.

Nathan Preheim is the founder of Proven Ventures, a pre-seed venture debt fund designed to catalyze and capitalize high-growth companies based in Nebraska. Preheim’s entrepreneurial approach helped create The Startup Collaborative. He also cofounded MindMixer, a civic engagement startup that quickly scaled from zero customers to nearly 1,000 in just two years.

Josh Nichol-Caddy oversees the Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program for the state of Nebraska. The goal of this program is to increase the number of SBIR/STTR proposals and awards—and prepare awardees for commercialization success—through outreach, financial support, technical assistance and mentoring.

Innovation Week continues tomorrow with a seminar about Nebraska women in STEM at 10:30 a.m. Sponsored by Nebraska BIO, UNO’s Christine Cutucache, PhD, will present, “Leadership and Mentorship in STEM: The Critical Need and Action Plan” at 10:30-11:45 a.m. That event is free for students, but $25 for non-students. Registration is required: http://bit.ly/2020NebSTEM.

Later on Tuesday, UNeMed will empanel another group experts to weigh in on local web and app development resources. That panel begins at noon at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20WebDev.

On Wednesday, is another panel discussion, this one covering local prototyping and manufacturing options on Wednesday, Oct. 28 at noon. Open and free to all, that panel discussion can be viewed via Zoom at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20protopanel.

Finally, Innovation concludes on Thursday, Oct. 29, with the Innovation Awards ceremony at noon.

The awards will be held via Zoom, and will honor all UNMC and UNO faculty, students and staff who submitted a new invention, were awarded a U.S. Patent or had a technology licensed during the 2020 fiscal year. UNeMed will also name the year’s Most Promising New Invention and will announce the “Innovator of the Year.”

The Awards ceremony can be viewed via Zoom at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20awards.

More information about Innovation Week and the Innovation Awards can be found at unemed.com/innovation-week.

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Local prototyping, manufacturing experts will discuss services

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OMAHA, Nebraska (Oct. 22, 2020)—UNeMed, the technology and transfer office at UNMC and UNO, will host an expert panel that will discuss local options for researchers, entrepreneurs and inventors in need of prototyping and manufacturing services.

The hour-long panel discussion will be a virtual event hosted via Zoom at noon on Wednesday, Oct. 28. The discussion is free and open to all at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20protopanel.

Planned panelists are UNO’s Brian Knarr, Omaha Manufacturing’s Tyler Keffeler and Shabri’s Kyler Meredith.

Brian Knarr, PhD, is an Assistant Professor and the Director of the Machining and Prototyping Core in the Department of Biomechanics at UNO. His research takes an interdisciplinary approach by combining clinical, experimental, computational, and device design concepts to develop clinically translatable rehabilitation.

Tyler Keffeler is Vice President of Omaha Custom Manufacturing, a full-service contract manufacturing company.  As a member of the executive management team, he oversees business development and project management.

Kyler Meredith specializes in rapid prototyping, batch manufacturing and product development, using additive manufacturing methods to bring designs to life.

Four other events are planned for Innovation Week, culminating with the Innovation Awards ceremony at noon on Thursday, Oct. 29.

The awards will be held via Zoom, and will honor all UNMC and UNO faculty, students and staff who submitted a new invention, were awarded a U.S. Patent or had a technology licensed during the 2020 fiscal year. UNeMed will also name the year’s Most Promising New Invention and will announce the “Innovator of the Year.”

The Awards ceremony can be viewed via Zoom at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20awards.

Innovation Week kicks-off at noon on Monday, Oct. 26 with a panel discussion on the merits of the SBIR/STTR grant programs. That panel will be available at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20SBIR.

Innovation Week continues on Tuesday, Oct. 27, with a panel discussion that focuses on local web and app development resources. That panel begins at noon on Tuesday, Oct. 27 at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20WebDev.

Also on Tuesday, Oct. 27, is a seminar that will focus on Nebraska women in STEM fields, sponsored by Nebraska BIO. UNO’s Christine Cutucache, PhD, will present, “Leadership and Mentorship in STEM: The Critical Need and Action Plan” at 10:30-11:45 a.m. That event is free for students, but $25 for non-students. Registration is required: http://bit.ly/2020NebSTEM.

The remaining Innovation Week event is another panel discussion, this one covering local prototyping and manufacturing options on Wednesday, Oct. 28 at noon. Open and free to all, that panel discussion can be viewed via Zoom at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20protopanel.

More information about Innovation Week and the Innovation Awards can be found at unemed.com/innovation-week.

 

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Local experts to offer insights for web, app development

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OMAHA, Nebraska (Oct. 21, 2020)—UNeMed will host a panel discussion that examines the local resources available to researchers, inventors and entrepreneurs interested in developing software and web applications.

The hour-long panel discussion will be a virtual event hosted via Zoom at noon on Tuesday, Oct. 27. The discussion is free and open to all at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20WebDev.

UNeMed is the technology transfer and commercialization office for UNO and UNMC and the primary host and sponsor of Innovation Week.

Planned panelists for the web and app development discussion are the Omaha Media Group’s Brad Nietfeldt, UNO’s Deepak Khazanchi, PhD, and Appsky’s Taylor Korensky.

A founding partner of Omaha Media Group, Brad Nietfeldt is a multi-award winning web development, digital marketing and search engine strategist. He develops innovative marketing solutions for C-Suite and Executive Leadership to aid in the promotion of both private and public sectors.

Deepak Khazanchi, PhD, is Professor of Information Systems and Quantitative Analysis in the College of Information Science & Technology at UNO. Dr. Khazanchi works closely with many UNMC researchers on designing, developing and deploying technology interventions.

Taylor Korensky is Appsky’s founder and CEO, and holds a degree in IT Innovation from UNO. He is particularly passionate about the Lean Startup method, having competed, won, and judged several pitch competitions. This gives him unique insight into the product development lifecycle and understanding the critical components of a successful business idea.

Three more events are planned for Innovation Week, culminating with the Innovation Awards ceremony at noon on Thursday, Oct. 29.

The awards will be held via Zoom, and will honor all UNMC and UNO faculty, students and staff who submitted a new invention, were awarded a U.S. Patent or had a technology licensed during the 2020 fiscal year. UNeMed will also name the year’s Most Promising New Invention and will announce the “Innovator of the Year.”

The Awards ceremony can be viewed via Zoom at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20awards.

Innovation Week kicks-off at noon on Monday, Oct. 26 with a panel discussion on the merits of the SBIR/STTR grant programs. That panel will be available at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20SBIR.

Also on Tuesday, Oct. 27, is a seminar that will focus on Nebraska women in STEM fields, sponsored by Nebraska BIO. UNO’s Christine Cutucache, PhD, will present, “Leadership and Mentorship in STEM: The Critical Need and Action Plan” at 10:30-11:45 a.m. That event is free for students, but $25 for non-students. Registration is required: http://bit.ly/2020NebSTEM.

The remaining Innovation Week event is another panel discussion, this one covering local prototyping and manufacturing options on Wednesday, Oct. 28 at noon. Open and free to all, that panel discussion can be viewed via Zoom at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20protopanel.

More information about Innovation Week and the Innovation Awards can be found at unemed.com/innovation-week.

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Panel will discuss SBIR/STTR funding

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OMAHA, Nebraska (Oct. 20, 2020)—A panel discussion that details the ins and outs of SBIR/STTR grant funding will be free and open to everyone as a part of Innovation Week on Monday, Oct. 26.

Planned as a Zoom event over the lunch hour, an expert panel will examine the merits of the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer grant programs. SBIR grants help small businesses and startups support additional research and development on projects with commercial potential, while STTR grants help commercial and nonprofit research institutions bring their collaborations to market. For university researchers, SBIR/STTR funding could help support things like prototyping, software development, additional experiments or proof of concept testing.

Sponsored by UNeMed, the technology transfer and commercialization office for UNMC and UNO, the seminar is scheduled to begin at noon on Monday. The hour-long panel can be viewed at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20SBIR.

Planned panelists include UNeMed’s Joe Runge, BBCetc’s Beck Aistrup, UNO’s Christine Cutucache, Proven Ventures’ Nathan Preheim and the Nebraska Business Development Center’s Josh Nichol-Caddy.

Joe Runge is the associate director of the UNeTech Institute, an incubator/accelerator focused on startups with ties to the University of Nebraska. Runge also serves on the SBIR/STTR advisory panel for the Nebraska Business Development Center and is a recipient a Ewing Marian Kauffman Foundation Heartland Challenge grant to expand SBIR/STTR utilization in the heartland region.

Joe Runge

Beck Aistrup joined BBC Entrepreneurial Training & Consulting in 2012 and advanced to a managing partner and co-owner in 2016. She is a well-known SBIR/STTR program expert, regularly speaking at national conferences and frequently serving on proposal review panels for NSF, DOE and USDA. She conducts SBIR/STTR-related training for BBCetc clients throughout the U.S. and consults one-on-one with companies on proposal development, offering special expertise in the DoD, NIH, NASA and DHS programs.

Christine Cutucache, Ph.D., is the Haddix Community Chair of Science, an Associate Professor of Biology and the Director of the UNO STEM TRAIL Center at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. A tumor immunologist turned science educator, Dr. Cutucache has secured $10.9 million in extramural funding, has published 34 peer-reviewed articles on her research, and was selected as a 2020 Fulbright Scholar.

Becky Aistrup

Becky Aistrup

Nathan Preheim is the founder of Proven Ventures, a pre-seed venture debt fund designed to catalyze and capitalize high-growth companies based in Nebraska. Preheim’s entrepreneurial approach helped create The Startup Collaborative. He also co-founded MindMixer, a civic engagement startup that quickly scaled from zero customers to nearly 1,000 in just two years.

Josh Nichol-Caddy oversees the Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program for the state of Nebraska. The goal of this program is to increase the number of SBIR/STTR proposals and awards—and prepare awardees for commercialization success—through outreach, financial support, technical assistance and mentoring.

Four more events are planned for Innovation Week, culminating with the Innovation Awards ceremony at noon on Thursday, Oct. 29.

Nathan Preheim

Nathan Preheim

The awards will be held via Zoom, and will honor all UNMC and UNO faculty, students and staff who submitted a new invention, were awarded a U.S. Patent or had a technology licensed during the 2020 fiscal year. UNeMed will also name the year’s Most Promising New Invention and will announce the “Innovator of the Year.”

The Awards ceremony can be viewed via Zoom at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20awards.

Earlier in the week, UNeMed and Innovation Week will also offer a panel discussion that will focus on local web and app development resources. That panel begins at noon on Tuesday, Oct. 27 at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20WebDev.

Also on Tuesday is a seminar that will focus on Nebraska women in STEM fields, sponsored by Nebraska BIO. UNO’s Christine Cutucache, PhD, will present, “Leadership and Mentorship in STEM: The Critical Need and Action Plan” at 10:30-11:45 a.m. That event is free for students, but $25 for non-students. Registration is required: http://bit.ly/2020NebSTEM.

The remaining Innovation Week event is another panel discussion, this one covering local prototyping and manufacturing options on Wednesday, Oct. 28 at noon. Open and free to all, that panel discussion can be viewed via Zoom at http://bit.ly/iWEEK20protopanel.

More information about Innovation Week and the Innovation Awards can be found at unemed.com/innovation-week.

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Parenting app partners with MMI, relocates to Omaha

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Rosie Zweiback

OMAHA, Nebraska (October 6, 2020)—The headquarters for a popular parenting web application will relocate here from Pennsylvania, closer to research partners at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Munroe-Meyer Institute.

The web app—Keys to Interactive Parenting Scale, or KIPS for short—is dedicated to supporting and providing resources to early childhood development professionals. Family support organizations like social services or school districts rely on KIPS to help train staff as they assist families with young children that need or want extra help. KIPS can also measure a parenting program’s impacts and outcomes.

Appsky, a custom software development and design agency in Omaha, acquired the KIPS program as a part of Appsky’s new venture capital division, Appsky Ventures.

“I saw an amazing opportunity with KIPS,” said Appsky founder and CEO Taylor Korensky. “It’s a chance to learn and develop our infant fund, and a way to improve and rework a really important tool with our technology.”

At more than 10-years-old, the software behind KIPS, including the user interface, is dated and needs upgrades. In the process, updating the software creates an opportunity to allow for more accessibility and greater impact for a more diverse range of users, said Appsky Chief Operations Officer Jade Jensen.

“We have been exploring opportunities related to software in the early childhood development sector, and helping kids is one of our passions,” Jensen said.

The KIPS program first helps train workers that support families. KIPS can then help those workers assess 10- to 20-minute play sessions between parents and their children. The results are then used to chart progress and guide caregivers to more beneficial outcomes.

“Programs across the world use KIPS,” said Rosie Zweiback, Associate Director of MMI’s Education and Child Development department. “It really helps people who work with families. KIPS identifies parenting strengths, and what they need to work on to enrich those essential parent-child interactions. It can also be really valuable for parents to watch their videos to see all the great things they are doing to nurture their child.”

Zweiback and Barbara Jackson, Ph.D., the Director of Education and Child Development at MMI, have been “power users” of the KIPS web app from the beginning, and were a major factor in relocating the KIPS headquarters to Omaha. The original developers planned to retire and initially asked Dr. Jackson and Zweiback to take over the application.

But maintaining and upgrading a web application was beyond the researchers’ scope of expertise.

“This is wonderful tool, but if we couldn’t find a home for it, it would’ve gone away,” Dr. Jackson said.

Michael Dixon, Ph.D., the president and CEO of UNeMed, UNMC’s technology transfer and commercialization office, reached out to Appsky.

“Appsky looked into it and they loved it,” Dixon said. “They’re a great partner for us. They can run the technical side, and that leaves the academic side to focus on more research that gives us even greater insights into parenting and early child development. I couldn’t be happier that we were able to make this connection and allow this business to be moved to Nebraska. It’s a win for our economy, our researchers and parents around the world since it is a product that is used globally.”

Dr. Jackson and Zweiback have been using KIPS for the last 10 years, and will work with Appsky to update more than 10 hours of training modules and other features. The pair will also use a portion of grant funding to further research on how to improve KIPS for a more diverse range of families.

Appsky recently secured a $100,000 matching grant from Nebraska’s Department of Economic Development. The grant is a part of the Academic R&D program within the state’s Business Innovation Act. This program encourages Nebraska companies to develop research programs with the University to advance commercialization of products.

“We’re going to look at how to improve the training videos and look at the cultural sensitivity of the videos,” Zweiback said. “Having a video of parent-child interactions and a reliable validated tool to score it gives parent coaches another way to support their families. The videos can help confirm what they think is going on or give them insights into behaviors they may have missed.”

Once the program has been fully updated, there’s enough room for growth to create a handful of new jobs in the area, Appsky’s CEO Taylor Korensky said.

“We’re looking at adding 10 jobs in the next five years, if we do it right.” he said.

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UNeMed Corporation is the technology transfer and commercialization office for the University of Nebraska Medical Center. UNeMed serves all UNMC researchers, faculty and staff who develop new biomedical technology and inventions, and strives to help bring those innovations to the marketplace. Learn more at UNeMed.com, or contact them at unemed@unmc.edu or 402-559-2468.

Founded in 2016, Appsky is a leading mobile and web app development company. Appsky prides itself on human-centered design, software, & consulting, with a passion for improve their local community through unique & affordable services. Learn more at Appsky.io or contact them at hello@appsky.io or at 402-999-4965.

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Save the date: Virtual Innovation Awards planned for Oct. 29

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OMAHA, Neb. (September 29, 2020)—UNeMed’s annual celebration of innovation and discovery at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the University of Nebraska at Omaha will be entirely virtual this year, including the Innovation Awards ceremony.

Innovation Week is sponsored by UNeMed, the technology transfer and commercialization office for UNMC and UNO.

Innovation Week will enter its 14th year when the first virtual event kicks off at noon on Monday, Oct. 26. The event will feature a panel of experts that will discuss tips, tricks and lessons learned in applying for federal grant funding through the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs, or SBIR/STTR for short. The discussion is free and open to all. The event will be held via Zoom.

Links to Innovation Week events will be announced in the coming weeks, and will also be posted at https://www.unemed.com/innovation-week.

Two events are planned for the following day, Tuesday, Oct. 27. The first event, beginning at 10:30 a.m., is a seminar focused on women in the science, technology engineering and mathematical fields. Primarily sponsored by Nebraska BIO, UNO’s Catherine Cutucache will present “Leadership and Mentorship in STEM: The Critical Need and Action Plan.” Attendance is $25 per person (free for students) and registration is required: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/leadership-and-mentorship-in-stem-the-critical-need-action-plan-registration-120524252283.

The second event on Tuesday begins at noon when an expert panel discusses programming services, web development and app development, and how those resources can help propel innovative projects. This Zoom event is also free and open to all.

Innovation Week will continue on Wednesday, Oct. 28, at noon with its third and final panel discussion, this one exploring local resources for prototyping and manufacturing services. That event will also be held via Zoom.

Innovation Week concludes on Thursday, Oct. 29, at noon with the Innovation Awards ceremony. The awards program will recognize all faculty, students and staff who submitted new inventions, had a technology licensed or were inventors on an issued United States patent during the 2020 fiscal year. UNeMed will also present two special awards for the year’s Most Promising New Invention and the Innovator of the Year.

The awards ceremony is expected to run about an hour, and will feature remarks from Chancellor Jeffrey Gold, MD.

Additional details about Innovation Week events, including links to the Zoom events, will be available at https://www.unemed.com/innovation-week.

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Vireo expansion to add jobs, economic impact to area

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CON-CRET & AminoActiv

PLATTSMOUTH, Nebraska (Aug. 25, 2020)—Vireo Resources broke ground on a $50 million expansion that could create as many as 300 new jobs for the area, according to a recent report in the Omaha World-Herald.

Vireo is a Tennessee-based nutritional supplement company that offers products based on Jonathan Vennerstom’s novel work with new creatine formulations at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. One of the products invented at UNMC is known by the trade name CON-CRET, and it helps improve strength and endurance while reducing recovery times from athletic activities. Another Vireo product based on UNMC innovation is AminoActiv, which promotes joint and muscle health.

Early success led to Vireo opening a manufacturing facility in Plattsmouth in 2008, and eventually expanded into a 10,000 square-foot facility in 2011. The latest expansion broke ground right next door, and will hold an additional 32,000 square feet. Altogether, the facilities will all fit within Vireo’s 10-acre campus and could eventually add another 100,000 square feet, according to the World-Herald report.

Vireo currently employs about 40 people, but that could expand to more than 300 once the expansion is complete in about seven years.

The economic impact of the expansion, however, is not limited to just larger facilities or an injection of new jobs. As the World-Herald reports:

“…added jobs should help fill new housing proposed for Plattsmouth, including a $10.3 million project to convert the old high school near Eighth and Main Streets. An Omaha developer’s plan, which includes public incentives, calls for 25 lofts in a renovated high school and 16 apartments in two newly constructed buildings.

“The adjacent Old Blue Devil stadium, which hasn’t been used as a school district football field since the 1980s, would be transformed into single-family housing under a plan the city is trying to work out with a developer. The mayor said he expects up to 45 dwellings to be built.

“‘We’ve got 200 to 300 jobs coming to this area,’ [Plattsmouth Mayor Paul] Lambert said. ‘Those people have to have some place to live.’”

Read the Omaha World-Herald’s comprehensive report here: https://omaha.com/business/local/anti-coronavirus-product-helps-drive-plattsmouth-companys-exponential-growth/article_f52b8945-8ceb-5083-8b21-6f926d701725.html

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UNMC researcher synthesizes new antibiotic peptides

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Dr. Wang

OMAHA Neb. (Aug. 19, 2020)—One year removed from publishing a groundbreaking study on classifying and designing antimicrobial peptides, Gus Wang, PhD, has apparently done it again.

A leading expert on antimicrobial peptides, Dr. Wang’s landmark papers were both published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The more recent paper, “Two distinct amphipathic peptide antibiotics with systemic efficacy,” published on July 28, and essentially proves in practical practice and application some of the ideas in the previous paper.

The previous article, “Low cationicity is important for systemic in vivo efficacy of database-derived peptides against drug-resistant Gram-positive pathogens,” published on June 17, 2019. In it, Dr. Wang describes a new approach to classifying and designing antimicrobial peptides.

In the most recent publication, Dr. Wang used these methods to synthesize two examples of antimicrobial peptides, horine and verine. Both have potential for clinical use, through intravenous administration, like a traditional antibiotic.

This represents a huge leap forward in the quest for new antibiotics. Until now, most antimicrobial peptides have only shown promise as a topical salve or lotion when applied at the site of infection. But these new peptides significantly increased sepsis survival in mice, and cleared evidence of infection from major organs throughout the body after a single injection. Significantly, these designer antimicrobial peptides did not show toxic side effects to the kidneys in either mice or rats after a week of daily injections.

“Horine and verine, with horizontal and vertical amphipathic structures, are two tiny, packed, and amazing molecules,” Dr. Wang said. “While horine can eliminate MRSA and similar gram-positive pathogens, verine has broad spectrum activity and can also kill gram-negative pathogens such as the superbug Klebsiella.”

Klebsiella is a common type of bacteria that can live harmlessly in parts of the digestive system. But when Klebsiella infects other systems such as the lungs, urinary tract or bloodstream, it can be dangerous and difficult to treat—particularly if the infection was acquired in a hospital setting where the bacteria is more likely to be resistant to antibiotics.

Treatment options for Klebsiella and other bacterial infections are limited. Since 2018, the FDA approved only two new systemic antibiotic drugs, both in 2019. One was lefamulin, a new treatment for community-acquired pneumonia. The other was cefiderocol, a treatment for urinary tract infections. Neither of the two new treatments list Klebsiella among their lists of targeted bacteria.

Overall, the U.S. antibiotic pipeline has stagnated in the last 20 years. Since 2000, the FDA has approved 20 new systemic antibiotics, a significant drop from the 52 new antibiotics produced in 1980-1999.

In an effort to make peptides a viable antibacterial treatment, Dr. Wang is working with UNeMed and UNeTech to protect, validate and commercialize his discoveries. UNeTech is the accelerator and incubator program for startup companies that spin out of University of Nebraska innovations in Omaha.

Already, several companies have expressed interest related to human health, animal health and even food processing.

“The work has only just begun, and we welcome collaborations to advance these fascinating molecules forward,” Dr. Wang said.

US Antibiotic Pipeline

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