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Four Rice Emerging Technology Companies Awarded Funding from the State of Texas

HOUSTON, October 10, 2006—The Rice Alliance for Technology & Entrepreneurship is pleased to announce that four Rice University start-up companies have received funding from the State of Texas’ Emerging Technology Fund. In total, these companies are receiving $4.5 million to help them commercialize their technologies and provide funding for their continued growth. The companies cover diverse technologies from carbon nanotubes used in rubber elastomers, fuel cells, and other applications, to small diameter piping inspection, to a novel treatment for cancer tumors.
 
“We are pleased that four of the six companies in the Gulf Coast Region receiving funding from the State of Texas were based on Rice University research,” said Brad Burke, managing director of the Rice Alliance. “It demonstrates the strength of the scientific research at Rice University and the commercial potential being realized through the collaborative efforts of the Rice Office of Technology Transfer, Rice Alliance, Rice faculty, and other individuals.”
 
The $200 million Texas Emerging Technology Fund was created in June 2005 by the Texas State Legislature to assist small to mid-size technology companies to launch sooner by expediting the commercialization of new innovations; to attract, create and retain companies that can offer high-quality jobs to the surrounding areas; and to increase the commercialization of research conducted at Texas universities.
 
Each of the companies is a past presenter the Rice Alliance’s flagship Technology Venture Forum series. These four companies licensed their core technologies from the Office of Technology Transfer at Rice University, which is responsible for the management and commercialization of Rice’s portfolio of technologies. The four companies receiving funding are:

  • Carbon Nanotechnologies, Inc. (CNI) was awarded $975,000 for the Carbon Nanotube Acceleration Project (CNAP). CNI was founded in early 2000 to commercialize the scientific breakthroughs in carbon nanotechnology made at Rice University under the direction of the late Rice University Nobel prize-winning scientist, Dr. Richard Smalley. CNI is the world’s leading producer of buckytubes and works closely with partner companies to rapidly commercialize new and improved products based on these revolutionary materials. The funding is specifically for a project designed to enhance the utilization of carbon nanotubes in the development of fuel cell technology that is expected to power the next generation of portable and wireless electronic devices.
  • itRobotics was awarded $750,000. itRobotics was founded in 2002 based on technology developed by Dr. Fathi Ghorbel, Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Rice University. itRobotics is pioneering technology to provide state of the art non-destructive inspection solutions for small diameter energy pipes using the latest robotics technology. The unique capabilities of the device allow it to inspect very narrow pipelines and coiled tubing, as well as go around corners and bends. It aims to increase the safety and integrity of the energy infrastructure around the world.
  • NanoComposites was awarded $1.5 million. It was created in 2004 and holds a unique position in the composites marketplace based on intellectual property licensed from Rice University and technical expertise of its founders including Dr. James Tour, Chao Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Computer Science, and Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science; and Director of the Carbon Nanotechnology Laboratory at Rice University. This core technology is directed toward the functionalization and processing of nanotubes into a variety of composite matrix materials. The unique properties of these nanotubes enable enhancement of existing products in the composite materials market, something that cannot be attained using conventional supplies. In the upstream oil and gas industry, NanoComposites’ enhanced elastomers are used in the manufacturer of seals which can withstand more severe operating conditions.
  • Nanospectra Biosciences was awarded $1.25 million. Nanospectra Biosciences was formed in 2002 to commercialize the life science applications of Nanoshells, a new class of materials, which were invented by Dr. Naomi Halas, the Stanley C. Moore Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Professor of Chemistry, and others at Rice University in the latter half of the 1990s. Nanospectra Biosciences, Inc. is developing a therapeutic medical device which incorporates a new class of microparticles to selectively destroy solid tumors. Dr. Jennifer West, Isabel C. Cameron Professor of Bioengineering, Rice University, co-developed the medical applications of Nanoshells that led to the formation of the Company. The award will be used to support a clinical trial in head and neck cancer later this year.