Eight Profs Receive Gryphon’s LAAIR Funding

April 28, 2014 - News Release

Eight University of Guelph professors with creative ideas for commercializing their research have been named the first recipients of the Gryphon’s LAIRR (Leading to Accelerated Adoption of Innovative Research) program.

Based on popular “innovation pitch” television shows, the Gryphon’s LAAIR was held last week and involved faculty from across campus pitching ideas for commercializing their inventions and discoveries to a panel of industry stakeholders.

Researchers received from $25,000 to $125,000 to support their proposals. In total, nearly $560,000 was awarded.

The program is funded through the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry of Rural Affairs-U of G Partnership and Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

“Competition for this funding was intense,” said Rich Moccia, associate vice-president (strategic partnerships).

“I congratulate our faculty for their enthusiastic participation in this new program. The diversity of projects funded is a testament to the quality and breadth of research at U of G, and will have significant impact on the agri-food community in Ontario and Canada.”

Physics professor John Dutcher received $125,000 to take his PHYTOSPHERIX™ polysaccharide particles to market. He and his research team discovered the tiny particles -- polymers made of sugar molecules bonded together -- and are producing them from Ontario corn.

They say the particles could serve as non-toxic, biodegradable replacements for engineered nanoparticles or petroleum ingredients. This could make any product more environmentally friendly, including paint, cosmetics or biomedical treatments.

Julang Li, a professor in animal and poultry science, and an adjunct professor in the Ontario Veterinary College, received $120,000 to commercialize a fermentation product fed to early-weaned pigs.
Other winners are:

  • Prof. Emily Yi Wai Chiang, School of Engineering, $24,700: waste stream-integrated microalgal cultivation unit for high-value biochemicals;.

  • Prof. Kees de Lange, Animal and Poultry Science, $25,000: helping to register an epidermal growth factor containing a fermentation product for newly weaned pigs;.

  • Prof. Ming Fan, Animal and Poultry Science, $77,600: novel cellulose for industrial applications;.

  • Prof. Praveen Saxena, Plant Agriculture, $86,000: domestic production of apple rootstock using in vitro technology; .

  • Prof. Ian Tetlow, Molecular and Cellular Biology, $25,000: market assessment of branching enzymes as agents in industrial processing; and.

  • Prof. Rene Van Acker, Plant Agriculture, $75,000: subsurface drip irrigation system for corn and other crops in the Sand Plains region of Ontario.

The Gryphon’s LAAIR was created earlier this year to help identify and assess opportunities and risks in the development of U of G-based technologies.

The program is also intended to help faculty better move products to market and work with industry collaborators in Ontario’s agri-food and rural sectors.

Improved sector competitiveness and expanded commercial and societal impact of U of G research are the ultimate goals, Moccia said.

More information about Gryphon’s LAAIR is available online or by contacting the office of the associate vice-president (strategic partnerships) at 519-826-3800.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or lhunt@uoguelph.ca; or Kevin Gonsalves, Ext. 56982, or kgonsalves@uoguelph.ca.

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