AU Announces Four Engineering-Based Start Ups

Auburn University's Office of Technology Transfer has announced the formation of four new start-up companies based on technologies developed within the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, according to Jann Dowdle Thornton, director of Auburn's Office of Technology Transfer. Two of the start-ups will be based in the Auburn area.

"Historically, we have helped launch two start-ups per year, but we've only done two purely engineering-based companies to date," she adds. "To ramp these up so quickly, and have all of them come out of the College of Engineering is truly an unprecedented event for Auburn University."

"A lot of this activity can be credited directly to the College of Engineering," explains Brian Wright, associate director for commercialization in the Office of Technology Transfer. "Dean Larry Benefield and the engineering faculty have significantly supported technology transfer efforts, including analysis and marketing efforts, which have contributed directly to the development of these new companies."

Contributing to this success, adds Thornton, has been the inaugural "Alabama Launchpad," a university-centered state-wide business plan competition. Auburn placed two teams in the event finals, including a carpet recycling company, and the winner of the $100,000 competition, OcuMedic.

"There's no question that Alabama Launchpad had a big impact on our start-up activity this year. OcuMedic was launched directly from its involvement in the competition, and MCR - the carpet recycling business - certainly received a big boost in recognition and contacts," Thornton points out.

"The commercialization of intellectual properties developed by Auburn University faculty represents a significant funding component as the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering moves to new levels of excellence," notes Larry Benefield, dean of engineering. "The technologies on which these companies are based represent truly innovative and forward-focused research with real-world applications." 

The four newly formed companies include:

Aunigma Communications Technologies, Inc., Atlanta, Ga.

Based on wireless security research performed in the labs of John Wu and David Irwin of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Aunigma is launching next generation network security integrated into high performance protocols. The technology will address new and expanding communication platforms and related internet security threats. Aunigma's flexible and efficient protocols bring to the marketplace multiple threat protection while achieving unmatched performance compared to competing security offerings. Aunigma was founded by Auburn University graduate Ken Garrard.

Modular Carpet Recyling, Inc. (MCR), Auburn, Ala.

Using a supercritical carbon dioxide-based process invented by Chris Roberts of the Department of Chemical Engineering, MCR will provide turn-key plants for efficient recycling of nylon from used carpets on a local and regional level. The company has initiated efforts to raise capital to demonstrate the technology in a pilot plant. A team lead by Paul Swamidass, director of the Thomas Walter Center for Technology Management, took this business plan concept to the finals of Alabama Launchpad.

Applications Quest, LLC, Fairfax, Va.

With recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings placing affirmative action under fire, mechanisms are needed to provide solutions to allow universities to realize their diversity objectives in a manner that is both effective and in conformity with the legal standards. Applications Quest clustering software developed by Juan Gilbert of the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering provides this capability by comparing application pools, thereby allowing multiple factors to be considered without any single variable becoming a deciding factor.

Ocumedic, Inc., Auburn, Ala.

Co-founded by Mark Byrne of the Department of Chemical Engineering, OcuMedic will use newly-developed contact lenses to deliver medications to the surface of eye more efficiently and therapeutically than standard eye drop formulations.