UWM Research Foundation awards bridge grants to UWM startups

Four startup companies recently were awarded $25,000 each from the UWM Research Foundation’s Bridge Grant program, which invests in new companies of UWM faculty, staff and students that have licensed intellectual property from the UWM Research Foundation.

The bridge grants leverage a $200,000 matching grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation that was announced last year.

Since the initial 2021 awards, the original six startups receiving bridge funds have gone on to raise an additional $6.8 million in grants and investments and have hired 11 new employees collectively.

This demonstrates how even smaller amounts of support can catalyze further success, said Jessica Silvaggi, Research Foundation interim president.

The grants went to:

Freyja LLC

AkkeNeel Talsma (in red)

In addition to professional medical care, pregnant women who are at risk for adverse birth outcomes need a community support system. This is particularly true for women of color and those in rural areas. The MaternityMetrix webapp created by AkkeNeel Talsma (nursing) provides members of women’s social and family network with a clinically curated information source that supports a healthy pregnancy outcome. Talsma is testing it with health care partners through her startup, Freyja.

Concretology LLC

Konstantin Sobolev (engineering) formed Concretology to commercialize a spray-on water repelling coating that can confer corrosion protection, hinder transport of chemicals through porous materials, provide self-cleaning, prevent icing and provide antimicrobial properties. The product, which has the potential to last several years, was designed for concrete, but it can be used on a variety of surfaces including ceramics, metals and wood.

Intelligent Composites LLC

Intelligent Composites is developing and using metal matrix composites (MMCs) created by Pradeep Rohatgi (engineering) who is also the company’s chief technology officer. The novel materials platform they use makes aluminum stronger and stiffer than traditional aluminum alloys and adds the property of self-lubrication. The team is working with engine manufacturers to test their alloys in cylinder liners and pistons for snowmobiles and military drones.

NanoAffix Science LLC

NanoAffix, founded by former UWM professor of engineering Junhong Chen, is developing a portable, hand-held sensor for rapid detection of lead and other harmful compounds in drinking water. The sensor is more sensitive and less expensive than its direct competitors. Potential markets include water service providers, schools/daycares, home inspectors, water treatment facilities and well-drilling contractors.

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