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UMBC launches first spinoff; company develops food tech

Baltimore Business Journal
From the July 30, 2004 print edition

UMBC launches first spinoff; company develops food tech
Robert J. Terry

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County is launching a new commercial enterprise -- a company developing technology to detect whether seafood is spoiled.

Aurora Analytics LLC is the first spinout launched by the university's Office of Technology Development and is its most ambitious move yet to foster technology transfer, commercializing university research with the help of investors and strategic partners. The company is headed by two UMBC-affiliated chemists, Aris Kalivretenos and William R. LaCourse.

The startup, officially launched in May, is developing test kits for seafood processors to check for spoiled fish. Aurora envisions its technology eventually being applied in the poultry and meat industries.

Rather than simply license the technology, UMBC's Office of Technology Development filed a patent on the research and formed Aurora to develop and market the technology.

UMBC has taken an equity stake in Aurora -- it won't say how much but describes its stake as significant -- and is now putting its resources to work nurturing the company through the difficult startup phase. Aurora has taken up residence in UMBC's technology incubator and is working with university staffers to secure government grants to expand its research efforts and operations.

Aurora is also working with an incubator neighbor, Columbia Technologies, doing contract analytical work, a service component of its business model that will serve as an important revenue stream as it aims to bring a product to market.

For UMBC, Aurora is the test case for a new, more aggressive approach to technology transfer. State officials are pinning much of Maryland's future economic development hopes on the ability to leverage the billions of dollars in research funding that flow annually into state universities and government laboratories and commercialize that work.

"It's significant in that we're taking more of a proactive role in this and we want to do more of this," said Stephen Auvil, director of UMBC's Office of Technology Development.

© 2004 American City Business Journals Inc.

Posted: November 14, 2005, 12:00 PM