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Venture Fund makes awards

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Two local biotech start-ups, a water and power company and a hardware inventor are the latest recipients of $165,000 in Venture Acceleration Fund awards from Los Alamos National Security, LLC.
Mustomo, Inc., IX Power, Synfolia and Tape-Ease will receive funding to take their products and services to the next development level. Three of the four companies are commercializing technology and intellectual property developed by New Mexico’s national laboratories and educational institutions.
“Although the program was originally intended to commercialize lab technologies, VAF frequently funds companies with no tie to LANL or research institutions,” said David Pesiri, the laboratory’s Technology Transfer Division leader. “This round of VAF funding represents a special opportunity to push national lab and research institution technology into the marketplace and to build upon other tech transfer efforts such as Labstart.”
Mustomo, Inc. of Los Alamos received $100,000 to commercialize novel LANL technology for breast cancer screening and detection. The ultrasound-based, three-dimensional tomography system has significant advantages over X-ray mammograms and ultrasound screenings in that it is safe, comfortable, high-resolution and easy to administer. In conjunction with clinical trials at the University of New Mexico Medical Center, Mustomo will use its VAF award to complete an operator manual, procedural guide, quality assurance and test plans and to implement on-site training and test result review. The company will also prepare a preliminary FDA filing to enter the marketplace.
IX Power of Los Alamos received $30,000 to acquire a first customer for Trans-Ex, a software package developed at LANL to optimize electric power grid supply and delivery configuration. IX Power will partner with Local Power of Marshall, Calif. to identify candidate sites and market opportunities for renewable and efficiency deployments in San Francisco. The team includes six IX Power founders, led by CEO John R. (Grizz) Deal, former LANL Computer Research and Applications Group Leader Vance Faber and former LANL scientist Jonathan Bradley. Gaspar Loren Toole of Los Alamos will provide technical assistance to the company through the New Mexico Small Business Assistance program.
IX Power expects to expand its workforce from nine full-time employees to more than 100 employees in the next year.
Synfolia of Santa Fe received $20,000 to conduct materials and biodegradability testing for tailored tissue scaffolds that regenerate epidermal and bone tissue. The company has exclusive rights to commercialize technology that was developed jointly by the University of New Mexico and Sandia National Laboratories. The company’s bioengineered scaffolds improve upon products currently used for tissue generation because they use the patient’s own cells and degrade easily without the problems of inadequate supply. Synfolia’s team includes Elizabeth Dirk, Ph.D. of the University of New Mexico; Shawn Dirk, Ph.D. and Stephen P. Buerger, Ph.D. of Sandia National Laboratories; and Dr. Reza Shekarriz.
Tape-Ease received $15,000 to manufacture and market its products through trade shows, merchandising, and video production. The woman-owned, Santa Fe-based company invented practical tools that attach to a standard one-inch tape measure, enabling accurate and quick measurements by a single person. In the past year, Tape-Ease secured a manufacturer and began distribution. Initial marketing resulted in a phenomenal response, prompting Tape-Ease to seek VAF support to capitalize on momentum. The project team includes founders Lisa and Linda Johnson, and partners Michael Rafter and Eldon Goates.
The VAF award came at the most opportune time for Tape-Ease, whose founders have personally funded the company to date.