Millennials Invited To Pitch Ideas, Hot And Cool

Alexander Koglin and Michael Humbert of NTxBio have formed a fledgling bioinformatics and biomanufacturing startup with the help of HD3, a business accelerator. Courtesy Photo
 
By ROGER SNODGRASS
Los Alamos Daily Post

High Desert Discovery District (HD3) is calling all millennials, looking in particular for innovative young entrepreneurs in their 20s and 30s to participate in HD3’s Discovery Day @ Intel April 14.

Millennials are now the largest and most diverse generation in the country and they are not just getting a lot of attention, they are coming on and coming into their own.

HD3 was the first accelerator in New Mexico, according to founder and CEO Michelle Miller, who described some of the ways this kind of private/public partnership accelerates and enhances the chances that a relevant business can succeed.

“HD3 is not about sitting in a classroom learning how to be an entrepreneur,” she said in a telephone interview this week. “We jumpstart the startup to grow — with connections.” HD3 spotsthe technical and creative team and supplements them with a business team.

“We raise money, have our own angel group and bring experience and wisdom to the table,” she said. We accelerate so a new company is not wasting time and burning thru its seed capital without getting anywhere.”

In order to find promising New Mexico innovators and entrepreneurs, HD3 holds several Discovery Day each year across the state. The next one is April 14, at the Intel Campus in Rio Rancho (Info at http://www.hddd.org/pdf/HD3_Intel_Millennial_Innovation_2016_FINAL.pdf), but in order to be selected to present their ideas, people who are pulled by call should read the instructions at www.hddd.org, get a two-page brief together and send it to Michelleh@hdd.org by March 25.

“We’re looking for technical, scientific or otherwise great ideas that can move the economic needle in New Mexico, something that can grow naturally here with high growth potential and that has the potential to make a major impact the community.

Examples of two companies in the HD3 portfolio include NTxBio and UBiQD.

HD3 encountered NTxBio at the 2015 Millennial Innovation Discovery Day @ Intel. The company, which has a lab in the commercialization center at Santa Fe Community College. The principals, Alexander Koglin and Michael Humbert, discovered and are now developingelements of a bioinformatics platform that has created two new, highly promising candidate antibiotic compounds.

While much attention has been given to an emerging medical threat caused by increasing antimicrobial resistance to multiple lines of formerly potent antimicrobial drugs, Koglin made the discovery of a surprising reversal to this trendby looking for the right needle in the right haystack.

“We just got lucky,” he said. “We basically started with genetic searches and we found something that was a small molecule that looked entirely different than anything we had seen before.” So the new compound was tested, Koglin continued. “And it is antibacterial, which is incredible– to have one shot and it is a hit.” More “good luck” followed. The team went looking in the data basefor another strain with similar genetic characteristics and it was found to be a new antibacterial as well.

The two antibiotic compounds, thermocellomycin and aurantiamycin, as chronicled in 1633, LANL’s science periodical, “were shown to inhibit the growth of 13 pathogen species (encompassing over 20 strains).” The list included MRSA (deadly skin infections), Clostridium difficile (a gastrointestinal disease), along with anthrax and the plague.

Getting this discovery into tests and making them affordable was the next challenge, and this too has led to new discoveries in the laboratory.

As a member of the millennial generation Koglin said, “Scientific knowledge continues to grow.” Not to become tainted by methods or projects that don’t work can be an advantage, he said, “to allow and enable yourself to learn alternative processes.”

UBiQD

Winner of the recent ABQid Taos Ski Lift, UBiQD began using the HD3 accelerant after Discovery Day in 2014.  The company makes low toxicity quantum dots for specialty lightingpurposes. It now markets nine products and a custom order service.

According to a recent update from CEO Hunter McDaniel, UBiQD won a Phase I SBIR grant in February from the DOE for $150,000 over six months to develop its dots for applications.“We’re working on that project now and hoping our success in Phase I will lead to a Phase II grant ($1M over two years),” he said.

Regarding the company’s management team, two more people have accepted offers to join UBiQD full time. Both are PhDs with industry experience on nanocrystal manufacturing and nanocomposites/coatings, and they will bring the full-time total to four people by early June.

“We filed a utility patent last week on a use for our materials in non-destructive testing, with plans to file several more in the coming months,” McDaniel said.“There is a lot of excitement around how quantum dots are disrupting the display industry today but we are aggressively targeting the next QD-enhanced/enabled products.”

 UPCOMING Discovery Events:

Millennial Innovation: HD3 Discovery Day @ Intel, Rio Rancho, April 14; Selection application is due March 25. Innovation and Discovery in Agriculture and Food, Las Cruces-La Mesilla, October 2016

For further information and application criterion, visit www.hddd.org or call 505.310.5711

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