Public Release: 

Three Clemson startups get funding to grow

Clemson University

Clemson University Research Foundation (CURF) announced that three Clemson startup companies have each received $25,000 in seed money from the University Sponsored Application Program (USAP) offered by SC Launch.

The three companies, VRM Labs LLC, ConnectTiss LLC and Addictive Drug Delivery LLC are located in South Carolina's Upstate and have licensed or optioned Clemson-owned intellectual property as the basis for their company.

SC Launch grows new technology companies in South Carolina and attracts existing companies to the state, advancing the knowledge economy.

"These companies are building their core business around technology invented at Clemson and CURF's role, in addition to protecting Clemson intellectual property, is to work with the startup to get a license or option in place and then help them to identify early-stage funding, such as the USAP program at SC Launch," said Casey Porto, CURF executive director.

VRM Labs is commercializing a novel Clemson technology for manufacturing cost-effective natural food preservatives for applications in pet food and animal feed industries.

"We created a simple process of producing the antioxidant named 'Prot-X' that is as efficient as synthetic antioxidants while at the same time cheaper than other natural antioxidants," said Alexey Vertegel, chief executive officer of VRM Labs and associate professor of bioengineering at Clemson.

ConnecTiss LLC, a Greenville-based company, is using technology, also developed at Clemson, to improve aging skin.

"Today's market is overrun with products that claim to eradicate the telltale signs of aging for people searching for elusive youth, but people are only as young as their elastin," according to Naren Vyavahare, co-founder of ConnecTiss LLC and Hunter Endowed Chair of Bioengineering at Clemson.

"Our technology takes a more innovative approach," Vyavahare said. "We have discovered and patented compounds that, when delivered to the site of elastin deterioration, bind tightly to native elastic fibers and block enzyme attacks, thus preventing elastin degradation."

ConnecTiss, LLC plans use this technology to create a cosmeceutical product that can be applied directly to the skin, allowing for compounds to be released at the site of elastin degeneration to prevent further loss.

Addictive Drug Delivery, LLC enhances existing sutures and surgical meshes with the ability to continually deliver medication for up to three months. This technology is a joint intellectual property commercialized by CURF and Medical University of South Carolina Foundation for Research Development.

"We are integrating technology developed jointly at Clemson and Medical University of South Carolina into existing textile products, such as hernia meshes, adding antimicrobial activity by simply swapping the type of fiber used," said Cody Reynolds, postdoctoral scholar at Clemson, chief technology officer and co-founder of Addictive Drug Delivery, LLC. "The technology uses a novel, low-temperature, non-toxic and environmentally friendly method of drug delivery that allows the device to release consistent quantities throughout a three-month period."

Porto says, "the spirit of collaboration between MUSC and Clemson serves our state well by combining resources to study and ultimately to solve the great challenges of our times."

"We welcome these companies to the SC Launch program," said SCRA CEO Bill Mahoney. "These USAP funds help early-stage start-up companies take their research from the lab to the marketplace, and ultimately help to further South Carolina's Knowledge Economy. We extend our sincere congratulations to these three companies, and look forward to many future successes."

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