New Mexico State University research will see large-scale development through seed investment and commercialization, thanks to a new partnership with VIC Technology Venture Development.

NMSU’s Arrowhead Center has signed an agreement with VIC to support VIC’s efforts in licensing NMSU intellectual property. VIC will create Filtravate, a business based in Las Cruces, which will develop and commercialize the manufacture of ultrafiltration membranes.

VIC is a technology venture development firm creating innovative new companies with world-changing science and engineering-based technologies. VIC carefully selects and licenses technologies from universities and research institutions, then partners technology entrepreneurs with VIC’s team of business and technology experts and provides seed capital through the national VIC Investor Network.

Yun Li, the managing director of VIC’s New Mexico branch, will be serving as interim CEO of Filtravate.

“This technology results in membranes that solve critical issues in the production of biopharmaceuticals, and have the potential to significantly improve process efficiencies in industrial and laboratory settings as well,” said Li.

The Filtravate approach will allow membranes to be synthesized from scratch, using the smallest building blocks to create precisely controlled pore sizes, even pore distribution, and will allow for fine-tuning of the membrane surface properties to meet the exact needs of the end-user. While the first application evaluated for the membrane was wastewater treatment, the researchers have since explored many other high-value uses.

Reza Foudazi, associate professor of chemical and materials engineering at NMSU, is a co-inventor of the Filtravate technology.

NMSU’s exploration and involvement in technology development is a benefit for not only for those emerging technologies, but for the visibility of the university and its researchers, which can lead to new revenue for both the institution and its faculty and staff.

“NMSU supports the translation of laboratory research to business applications,” said Luis Cifuentes, vice president for research and dean of the NMSU Graduate School. “With Arrowhead Center’s help, Dr. Foudazi was able to develop an enhanced technology, through dedicated doctoral research, that will be of future use for the pharmaceutical industry.”

Kathryn Hansen, director of Arrowhead Center, said, “What Arrowhead has undertaken with VIC shines a light on NMSU’s research capacity and talent. We’re delighted to work with VIC to see NMSU research grow and get products to the private sector. Everybody wins if Filtravate succeeds, and Dr. Foudazi will remain involved in product development.”

Foudazi explained that the membrane was developed through the doctorate work of his student Sahar Qavi, a recent graduate. It was during their involvement with Arrowhead Center that they were challenged to grow their idea for additional potential market opportunities.

“We originally focused on purification and filtration at water and wastewater treatment plants, but in going through the Arrowhead Center’s Aggie I-Corps and LAUNCH programs, we were able to see that it has a defined pharmaceutical application and, also something that the dairy industry would be interested in for cheese production,” Foudazi said.

Aggie I-Corps training program at Arrowhead Center for NMSU allows students to test the commercial feasibility of technology, and LAUNCH is a 10-week licensing studio, built to springboard NMSU intellectual property into the private sector.

“Arrowhead Center gave us a better understanding of the market and allowed us to have interactions with investors that enhanced our ability to make this research viable for a product ready for the market,” Foudazi said, “and ultimately led to the investment by VIC in the newly created Filtravate.”

Published by New Mexico State University on April 1, 2020.