A Milwaukee start-up company has executed license and equity agreements for technology developed at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) through the UWM Research Foundation, and completed an initial funding round to help commercialize new tools for biological research.
Aurora Spectral Technologies (AST) LLC, founded by UWM associate professor Valerica Raicu and Thomas Mozer, will develop new tools for imaging proteins in living cells and intends to bring products to market that will enhance microscopy tools used by a variety of researchers.
Aurora Spectral Technologies completed a license agreement for technology developed by Raicu, a researcher in UWM’s Department of Physics, and also raised $400,000 through local angel investors.
The tools Raicu has developed can image proteins as they work in combination with one another to control the body’s many processes necessary for good health. Some 60 percent of drugs target proteins, making the work important in new drug discovery and for understanding the molecular basis of illness.
“We’ve looked closely at the other tools available in the marketplace,” said Mozer, CEO of the new company, “and we believe this technology offers unique capabilities that translate into significant market potential in academic research laboratories as well as in the much broader market of pharmaceutical research.”
“This is the classic collaboration between a university able and willing to license the research being conducted by one of their professors, the professor who is willing to let a business guy help take the science out of the lab and try to commercialize it, and the local angel investors who are willing to take a lot of financial risk with the potential for great reward,” said Jeff Rusinow, chairman and lead investor of the company.
Rusinow is the founder of the angel network Silicon Pastures and is a long-term investor of early-stage start-ups, including the local companies BUYSEASONS and Prodesse, both of which had successful exits in recent years.
“The launch of Aurora Spectral Technologies shows what can happen when we bring together ideas, talent and capital,” noted Brian Thompson, president of the UWM Research Foundation. “Dr. Raicu’s innovative ideas have helped a UWMRF catalyst grant; Dr. Mozer brings the talent of an experienced entrepreneur; and local investors are bringing the essential capital to move this business forward.”
The UWM Research Foundation Inc. is a nonprofit corporation that supports research and innovation at UWM through a variety of programs including patenting and licensing.