Apr 6, 2018
MSU AgBio research gives $715,000 for projects

Thirteen research technologies demonstrating commercial potential in the advancement of the agbio industry were awarded a total of more than $715,000 in funding from Michigan State University’s (MSU) AgBio Michigan Translation Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) statewide innovation hub to continue their path toward the commercial market.

Eight proposed technologies received annual Tier I Full funding awards and five additional proposals received Tier II Starter awards with the opportunity to reach key milestones and consideration for submission for a Tier I Full grant proposal.

“With a continued focus on using advancements to improve and further agriculture, food packaging, biotechnology, natural resources and animal health, these teams have shown the potential to make an impact on the AgBio commercial market,” said Kevin McCurren, MSU AgBio MTRAC Commercialization Program Director.

“Investing in these technologies created in different state universities reinforces the state of Michigan and its historic mission in being a leader in the agriculture industry. For the first time, this year’s awardees include project collaboration between the University of Michigan Medical School and the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine.”

Projects receiving Tier 1 AgBio Full award funding include:

  • Using BioOil as a Source of Fuel in Petroleum Refineries, Dr. Ezra Bar-Ziv (MTU)
  • Enhancing Growth and Productivity of Soybeans and Alfalfa Through Implementation of a Single-Modifier Strategy, Dr. Federica Brandizzi (MSU)
  • Drought-Tolerant Potato Technologies, Dr. David Douches (MSU)
  • Efficient Manufacturing of Activated Charcoal Using High Density Plasma Technologies, Dr. Qi Hua Fan (MSU)
  • Transparent High-Barrier Polypropylene Films for Improved Food Packaging, Dr. Krishnamurthy Jayaraman (MSU)
  • Improved Stevia Varieties, Dr. Ryan M. Warner (MSU)
  • Biodegradable Controlled‐Release Trunk Injection Plug for Protecting Tree Crops from Disease and Insect Pests, Dr. John Wise (MSU)
  • Novel Animal Cancer Therapeutic Development Using Route and Toxicity Studies, Dr. Vilma Yuzbasiyan-Gurkan (MSU) & Dr. Jetze Tepe (MSU)

Projects qualifying for and receiving Tier II AgBio Starter awards include:

  • Improved Cotton Fiber Quality, Dr. Shi-You Ding (MSU)
  • Using Light to Help Diverse Microbes Grow Sustainable Bioplastics Together, Dr. Daniel Ducat (MSU)
  • Using Aptamer Treatment for Equine Joint Inflammation, Dr. David Markovitz (UM), Dr. Nirit Mor-Vaknin (UM) & Dr. Jane Marie Manfredi (MSU)
  • Identification of a Rare-Earth-Dependent Plant Probiotic Microbial Community that Stimulates Plant Growth, Dr. Norma Cecilia Martinez-Gomez (MSU)
  • Low-Cost, High-Barrier Bottles for Beer And Juice Packaging, Dr. Muhammad Rabnawaz (MSU)

In July 2016, the MSU MTRAC AgBio program, in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)’s Entrepreneur and Innovation initiative, was designated as the first statewide innovation hub, meaning the program can support applicants from institutions of higher education, non-profit research centers and hospital systems across the state. Technologies can be from research settings to practical real-world applications.

Since the program’s inception, it has received 101 project proposals, funding 48 of them generating a total of nearly $51.6 million in follow-on funding.

“Paving the way for these technologies to continue to track toward commercialization is a representation of the success the MTRAC program is experiencing at MSU and across the state,” said Denise Graves, University Relations Director at MEDC. “Continuing the collaboration between the VC community, industry, research talent at our universities and the resources in our entrepreneurial ecosystem, like MTRAC, will prove to represent Michigan as a premiere state to build and grow business.”

MSU is one of four universities serving as an innovation hub with an MTRAC program, joined with the University of Michigan, Michigan Technical University, and Wayne State University. Each university focuses on a different industry, including agriculture biology, advanced applied materials, life sciences, advanced transportation and biomedical.

In collaboration with the host universities, supported by the Michigan Strategic Fund and managed by the MEDC Entrepreneurship and Innovation initiative, MTRAC programs to-date have funded 161 projects, helped develop 21 start-up companies, created 52 jobs, secured $75.3 million in follow-on funding, and licensed technology to 17 industry partners.

Funding for the MSU Innovation Hub projects begins May 1, 2018, and runs through April 31, 2018. The Statewide MSU Ag Bio MTRAC Innovation Hub Transportation program will accept new applications beginning in fall, 2018.

For more on the MSU MTRAC AgBio program, visit innovationcenter.msu.edu/programs.msu-mtrac-program.





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