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Improved wireless charging technology for consumer electronics, development of higher-value-added material from waste produced during biofuel production, and novel materials for 3-D printing are among the recipients of this year’s maturation funding from the University of Tennessee Research Foundation.

“UTRF is delighted to provide maturation grants to accelerate the further development of these eight technologies,” said David Millhorn, UTRF president and UT executive vice president and vice president for research. “The quality of the ideas submitted from across the state shows the energy and dedication of the University of Tennessee research enterprise and the potential for UT innovations to improve the lives of people in the greater Tennessee region.”

Technologies invented at the University of Tennessee, like the majority of university discoveries, typically require additional development to attract commercial interest. UTRF awards grants each year through its annual Maturation Funding program to help researchers advance new technologies on the path to market.

This year, UTRF was fortunate to receive more than 40 strong applications and is awarding funds to eight groups of faculty inventors.

Multi-campus office awardees:

  • Daniel Costinett, assistant professor, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, for “Developing Wireless Power Transfer Coil for Charging Consumer Electronics”
  • Scott Lenaghan, research assistant professor, UT Institute of Agriculture Food Science and Technology, for “Development of a Library of Potential Enhancer Elements for Precise Gene Regulation”
  • Baoshan Huang, Edwin G. Burdette Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Xiaofei (Philip) Ye, professor, UTIA Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, CRC, for “Higher-Value Added and Innovative Use of Biofuel Production Waste as Bio-modifier for Asphalt Binder”

UT Health Science Center:

  • Mojdeh Dehghan, associate professor of restorative dentistry, for “An Easy, Practical, and Immediate Saliva Neutralization and Remineralization Treatment for Tooth Erosion”
  • Denis DiAngelo, professor of orthopedic surgery and biomedical engineering, for “Dynamic Ankle Orthosis for Alleviating Pain and Preserving Motion”
  • Tayebeh Pourmotabbed, professor of microbiology, immunology & Biochemistry, for “Advancement of a Novel DNAzyme Therapy for Huntington’s Disease”
  • Maddie Singer, director of anaplastology, for “Strapless CPAP Device for Sleep Apnea”

Each team receives $15,000 to further develop their technology and answer important commercialization questions.

The UTRF Maturation Funding program is open to all University of Tennessee campuses and institutes.

The selection process included evaluation of three key areas: demonstration of a path for commercial development, market potential, and stage of development.

As part of the award process, UTRF will receive interim and final reports from the researchers that will describe increased knowledge and improvements in the subject technology.

This information is expected to assist UTRF in better positioning the technologies for licensing. Since its inception in 2007, the program has awarded nearly $1 million to more than 70 UT projects, resulting in 34 commercial licenses.

UTRF is a not-for-profit organization responsible for commercializing and licensing technology discovered by faculty, staff, and students across the UT System. In FY2016, UTRF executed 21 commercial licenses, established two start-up companies, and received 140 invention disclosures.

A call for submissions for next year’s Maturation Funding program will be announced in the fall of 2017. For more details on the program and past winners, visit


Melissa Dos Santos (865-974-1882,