Michigan Technological University’s MTRAC Announces Funding for Projects Using Advanced Materials to Improve Quality of Life

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) Advanced Applied Materials Innovation Hub at Michigan Technological University recently awarded a combined $302,000 in funding to four projects from researchers across the state.

These projects — led by researchers at Michigan Tech, Michigan State University, Wayne State University and the University of Michigan — strive to address crucial global issues such as plastic waste contamination, breast cancer detection, the need for better ion sources and stress urinary incontinence.

“The awards from the MTRAC Advanced Applied Materials Innovation Hub at Michigan Tech will help researchers bring their innovative, early-stage projects closer to commercialization,” said Denise Graves, university relations director at the MEDC. “These projects have the potential to solve some challenging issues, and we look forward to seeing how the funding and mentorship help them complete their milestones over the following year.”

After successfully presenting their proposals to a 10-person oversight committee of venture capitalists, materials experts and entrepreneurs, the researchers will use the awarded funding and mentorship from the program to further develop their projects on a path toward commercialization. The four projects funded by the hub will have the potential to positively affect human and environmental health around the world:

  • Researchers at Michigan Technological University will take on the global environmental challenge of waste plastics by creating a novel chemical recycling process that can convert the plastic into high-value products.
  • Researchers at the University of Michigan are working on a biomaterial scaffold that will detect metastasis-competent tumor cells at their earliest stage, allowing for interventional strategies to halt the disease’s progression.
  • The project led by Michigan State University researchers will address the limitations of conventional ion sources by developing an innovative single beam ion source with adjustable ion energies, which will allow high-quality dense and smooth thin films with superior stability.
  • A researcher at Wayne State University will offer a solution to the significant limitations of the artificial urinary sphincters used to address stress urinary incontinence.

Funded through the Michigan Strategic Fund and administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), the MTRAC Advanced Applied Materials Innovation Hub supports materials-based technologies offering novel materials and novel applications of conventional materials that address well-documented market needs. In the past two years, the hub has reviewed 44 proposals and supported 11 projects from researchers across Michigan.

“The MTRAC program is a proven model of success,” said Jim Baker, associate vice president for research at Michigan Technological University. “The external oversight committee and internal MTRAC team help researchers bridge the development of early-stage technologies across the ‘valley of death’ that all too often exists between discovery in the lab and commercialization. We are very pleased with the outcomes we’ve seen in prior projects, and excited about upcoming projects, too. We continue to see higher-quality projects year after year — and that will translate into greater opportunities for commercialization and overall benefits to the public.”

The Advanced Applied Materials Innovation Hub at Michigan Technological University is part of a network of statewide innovation hubs that include the MTRAC Innovation Hub for Life Sciences at University of Michigan FFMI, the MTRAC Innovation Hub for AgBio at Michigan State University, the MTRAC Innovation Hub for Advanced Transportation at University of Michigan and the recently announced MTRAC Innovation Hub for Advanced Computing at Wayne State University. Each hub is strategically located at a university strong in the sector, further increasing the quality and quantity of resources available.

The MTRAC program itself is supported by funds from the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) and administered by the MEDC, with additional funding coming from partner institutions. Through March, MTRAC programs have received 618 proposals, funded 287 projects, developed 44 startup companies, licensed 33 technologies to industry partners and secured more than $186 million in follow-on funding.

MEDC’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation initiative establishes Michigan as the place to create and grow a business by providing high-tech startup companies with access to a variety of critical resources, such as funding and expert counsel, from ideation to maturation. For more information on MEDC’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation, please visit www.michiganbusiness.org/entrepreneurship.

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit www.MichiganBusiness.org. For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at www.michigan.org. Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.