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USTAR Announces Latest Round of Awards to University Researchers

The Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR) announced the selection of eight University Technology Acceleration Grant (UTAG) awards.

“These projects are a testament to Utah’s innovative spirit,” said Ivy Estabrooke, Ph.D., USTAR executive director. “We received strong applications and these awardees represent projects with high potential to make significant impact in real world application.”

The UTAG program provides university researchers with funding for advanced stages of applied research and development activities to address the market gap where both federal funding and private investment are sparse. This program is specifically designed to help technologies with market potential reach a level of technical maturity to attract private investment. This competitive grant allows researchers to accelerate research and development, establish proof of concept, or perform product validation.

Selected projects span a wide range of deep-technology focused economic clusters such as life sciences and energy. Rico Del Sesto, the first recipient from Dixie State University in St. George, is researching topical treatments for Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a bacterium that can cause infections throughout the body and is resistant to common antibiotics.

A researcher from Utah State University, Silvana Martini, is incorporating high intensity ultrasound to improve the physical properties of healthy fats with the goal of providing healthier fat alternatives without compromising product quality.  University of Utah Prof. Ryan Looper is investigating a noninvasive therapeutic for the treatment of glaucoma.

“This program complements Governor Herbert’s vision to ensure Utah will lead the nation as the best performing economy,” said Estabrooke. “In helping our university faculty transition their products from the lab to the marketplace, we are able to grow Utah’s economy through breakthrough technologies.”

Applications were assessed by independent peer review panels prior to receiving final approval by the USTAR Governing Authority. Award amounts will be released pending final contract negotiations.

UTAG Awardees

Scott E. Budge, Utah State University

Rico Del Sesto, Dixie State University

Matthias D. Greb, University of Utah

Ryan Looper, University of Utah

Silvana Martini, Utah State University

Christian Yost, University of Utah

Mostafa Sahraei-Ardakani, University of Utah

Yujie Sun, Utah State University

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