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UTPA's start-up company FibeRio Technology Corporation garners silver at global technology showcase
Posted: 03/28/2010
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FibeRio Technology Corporation, the first company formed by The University of Texas-Pan American emanating from the discoveries of its faculty, walked away with the Silver Award March 17 at the World's Best Technology (WBT) Showcase held in Arlington, Texas.

The annual WBT showcase is the nation's premier event exhibiting the largest collection of undiscovered technologies coming from the world's leading universities, labs and research institutions. The showcase provides the presenters the opportunity to market their technologies to more than 100 seasoned venture investors and Fortune 500 company licensing scouts representing a variety of industries looking to invest in new technologies. This year's title sponsor was Lockheed Martin.

"This is another feather in the cap of UTPA successfully moving our research discoveries into the market place and being publically recognized for their value," said Jackie Michel, director of UTPA's Office of Innovation and Intellectual Property.

During the World's Best Technology Showcase 2010 in Arlington, Texas, Dr. Karen Lozano, Julia Beecherl Professor in Engineering in UTPA's Department of Mechanical Engineering, was honored as a nominee in The Chancellor's Entrepreneurship and Innovation Awards Program 2010 at The University of Texas System. Pictured left to right are Dr. Keith McDowell, UT System vice president for Research and Technology Transfer; Lozano; and James D. Dannenbaum, UT System Board of Regents member.
Using a new concept of ForceSpinning Technology™ invented by UTPA mechanical engineering professors Drs. Karen Lozano and Kamal Sarkar, FibeRio will develop and manufacture machinery that employs centrifugal force to create space age nanofibers used in applications as diverse as filtration, advanced wound care, ultra-capacitators and absorptive materials such as diapers. ForceSpinning Technology™ can create fibers from a wider variety of materials and more effectively than current electrospinning technology, resulting in greater productivity and lower costs in their manufacture.

FibeRio had been chosen as one of 10 "early picks" to present at the event because of the vast and important potential applications of nanofibers that ForceSpinning Technology™ could create. Among the 92 showcase presenters were Texas Tech, UT Arlington, MIT, Louisiana State University, Washington University in St. Louis, Case Western University, Tel Aviv University, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Navy, Army, Department of Defense, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, among others. UTPA's FibeRio Technology Corporation was the only winner from Texas.

The highest award - platinum - went to Orthogonal, whose light sensitive material, licensed by Cornell University, will allow electronics manufacturers to print electronic circuits on organic chips. Astronix Research, supported by the National Reconnaissance Office, took the gold award for its development of an e-beam analog to digital converter.

FibeRio President and CEO Ellery R. Buchanan, who made the company's presentation at the showcase, called the recognition an important step on FibeRio's path to commercial success.

"The award is another validation of the ability of UTPA researchers to develop world-class technology. It is important for our investors to see independent acclaim in international competitions to help them assess the risk of technology investments. On a broader scale, our vision has always included a future vibrant technology industry in the Valley. This is one more point of reference showing that this vision is within reach," Buchanan said.

According to Michel, one in three of past presenters at the showcase, which began in 2002, has gone on to secure venture capital or a licensing/strategic partnering agreement. To date, past presenters have raised more than $450 million in first or next round venture capital.

FibeRio's Forcespinning Technology™ was also selected recently as one of eight technologies on the Society of Manufacturing Engineers' 2010 list of "Innovations That Could Change the Way you Manufacture," by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers' Innovation Watch Committee of the Manufacturing Enterprise Council. The annual list features new and emerging technologies and processes that are expected to impact the future of manufacturing. Some of the other technologies highlighted included technology resulting in the manufacture of economical RFID tags, nanotube inks that turn plain copier paper into a high energy electrode for use in energy-storage devices, new bio-based products and materials used in the automotive industry as well as in adhesives, carpets and engine oils.

During the WBT showcase, Lozano, who also serves as FibeRio's chief technology officer, was recognized by The University Texas System as a nominee for The Chancellor's Entrepreneurship and Innovation Awards Program 2010 for technologies developed at a single institution.

This prestigious award was established by The UT System Office of Research and Technology Transfer to promote a culture of entrepreneurship throughout UT System academic and medical institutions by recognizing researchers who exemplify ingenuity, creativity and innovation in translating research into useful products and services. The awards acknowledge commercialized research that has had a profound impact on the citizens of Texas and on all of society. The award went to Borje Andersson, a nominee from U.T. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, for work on the intravenous formulation of Busulfan, which has changed the care for stem cell transplantation.

Lozano said FibeRio's award at the WBT Showcase and the recognition by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers brings national and worldwide attention to FibeRio providing a great opportunity to further its mission and reach its goals. She said these accomplishments also bring inspiration to the UTPA campus and its faculty and students.

"This brings excitement and motivation to our students to develop the next series of patents. Great things are happening in our labs," she said.

With recognitions she has received herself, Lozano said she is honored and feels a great responsibility to continue to fulfill her mission with students and the community. She said many people have told her that their children saw the FibeRio announcement press conference on TV and were excited about it and talking about what they were going to invent one day.

Lozano described her greatest satisfaction that has come from her successful research and commercialization of her inventions.

"The greatest satisfaction is to show our students and the community that UTPA has great potential and it is a serious option to be considered for a great undergraduate education. I talk very highly about our programs and these types of opportunities prove what I believe and work hard for," she said.

To learn more about FibeRio go to www.fiberiotech.com/. To learn more about undergraduate and graduate programs in the College of Science and Engineering at UTPA, go to www.utpa.edu/cose.