UWMRF awards $100,000 in grants to Milwaukee startups

The University of Milwaukee Research Foundation (UWMRF) Bridge Grant Program was created to support commercialized innovations developed at UWM and foster the development of startup companies that strengthen Milwaukee’s and the state’s economy.

Backed by support from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) Capital Catalyst Program, the UWMRF Grant Program recently awarded four $25,000 grants to startups developed at UWM by faculty, students, or staff.

The selection committee consisted of Israel Squires (Midpoint Ventures), Chloe Kinderman (Titletown Tech), and Jenni Li (Venture Investors).

Since the initial 2021 awards, the original 6 teams receiving funding have gone on to raise an additional $6.8 million in grants and investments and have hired 11 new employees.

New Phase I Awardees -2023

  • Concretology LLC – water resistant additive to protect roadways, buildings, and surfaces ($25,000)
  • Freyja LLC – MaternityMetrix webapp for better management of pregnancy and outcomes for mother/baby ($25,000)
  • Intelligent Composites LLC – advanced composite materials for internal combustion engine cylinder liners ($25,000)
  • NanoAffix Science LLC – hand-held lead sensor for water ($25,000)

Concretology LLC

Dr. Konstantin Sobolev, Professor of civil and environmental engineering, formed Concretology to explore the commercialization of a superhydrophobic spray on coating (water repelling) that can confer corrosion protection, hinder transport of water and chemicals through porous materials, provide self-cleaning, prevent icing, and also provide antimicrobial properties. While concrete is the proposed initial surface, this material can be used on a wide array of surfaces including ceramics, metals, and wood for a potential of several years. The team will use the bridge grant to work on scale-up of the technology to supply larger volumes for industrial trials and conduct a long-term field stability evaluation.

Freyja LLC

Annually, about 3.7M babies are born in the USA. Maternal and infant outcomes vary across populations, with well-known adverse mother/infant outcomes, especially for African American, Native American, Hispanic women, and in rural areas. Pregnant people need, aside from medical/nursing care delivered in medical offices or clinics, a trusted, informed, community network and support system that helps them navigate and manage their health throughout pregnancy and prepare for childbirth and family life. The MaternityMetrix webapp informs and guides unlicensed community workers and social network members with regional based reporting, and relevant topics that are linked with clinically vetted and curated content from official, professional sites supporting a healthy pregnancy outcome. Dr. AkkeNeel Talsma, Associate Professor of Nursing, and her team will use the bridge grant to code the software prototype for MaternityMetrix to further test it with healthcare partners for usability and feasibility and determine a viable path for potential revenues and adoption in the market.

Intelligent Composites LLC

Intelligent Composites LLC is an advanced materials and manufacturing company specializing in the commercial development and use of metal matrix composites (MMC’s) created by Dr. Pradeep Rohatgi, Distinguished Professor of materials science and engineering and CTO of the company. Their novel materials platform makes aluminum stronger and stiffer than traditional aluminum alloys and adds properties of self-lubrication. With the electrification of transportation, there is more interest in optimization of vehicle structures for weight and performance in both electric and internal combustion engine vehicles. The team is working with specialty traditional engine manufacturers to test their alloys in cylinder liners and pistons for snowmobiles and military drones. They will use the bridge grant to fabricate liners and pistons for testing with Leadfoot Engineering, focused on military drone applications, and use this data to court additional manufacturers and markets.

NanoAffix Science LLC

NanoAffix is developing a portable handheld tester and sensor for rapid onsite testing with the goal of selling this product to provide quantitative, real-time, onsite detection of lead and other harmful compounds in drinking water to point of use customers. The target markets include water service providers, schools/daycares, home inspectors, water treatment facilities, well drilling contractors, and other end use customers interested in testing tap water or well water for contaminants. The sensor is more sensitive and less expensive than its direct competitors. The company has already begun a soft launch with some beta testers and will use the bridge grant to focus on scaling up sensor manufacturing, marketing, and customer outreach and business development. NanoAffix was founded by former UWM Professor of mechanical engineering, Dr. Junhong Chen, and the company currently resides at the UWM Innovation Campus.

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