Texas Tech University

Engineer Invited to Showcase Technology at BIO Innovation Zone

George Watson

May 21, 2015

Siva Vanapalli has done extensive research and product development in microfluidics.

Siva Vanapalli

Siva Vanapalli has had tremendous success researching various areas in microfluidics, but he's also an accomplished inventor with three pending patents, two of which have already been licensed to the startup company, Neofluidics LLC.

Now, he could be on the verge of another microfluidic technology that can be integrated into several stand-alone or desktop diagnostic platforms.

Vanapalli, an associate professor and graduate adviser in the Department of Chemical Engineering in Texas Tech University's Whitacre College of Engineering, will present the latest technology developed in his laboratory at the 2015 Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) Innovation Zone June 15-18 in Philadelphia.

“This is a great honor simply because it is a unique and exciting opportunity to showcase our work at a place where you have 15,000 people all interested in a similar domain of expertise in life sciences,” Vanapalli said. “It's an opportunity to connect with people who do startups and businesses and try to showcase how Texas Tech is trying to be more entrepreneurial in large parts of the market.”

Vanapalli will be accompanied at the event by David Snow, associate managing director and intellectual property manager in the Office of Research Commercialization. Together they will debut Vanapalli's new technology, which he said involves microfluidics and has applications in diagnostics and the behavior of single cells.

The technology was developed through an Accelerating Innovation Research grant Vanapalli received from the National Science Foundation (NSF), which along with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) sponsors the BIO Innovation Zone. Vanapalli said this grant takes basic discovery from research and translates it into prototype technology.

The Innovation Zone is a dedicated 5,000-square-foot area on the exhibition floor dedicated to showing 35 NIH and 35 NSF SBIR grantees. Each selection will have a dedicated kiosk space to display his or her work, which Vanapalli said, for his technology, will involve artwork with a simple summary on the product as well as laptop computers that will show how the technology and prototype works.

It is estimated 15,000 biotech leaders from 65 countries will attend the exhibition, representing areas such as drug discovery, biomanufacturing, genomics, biofuels, nanotechnology and cell therapy. The three-day event also features opportunities for education and networking between scientists and industry officials.

Vanapalli said this is his first time to attend the Innovation Zone.

“I am a little nervous,” Vanapalli said. “This is a different type of activity that as faculty we're not used to. At the same time, it is an interesting opportunity to really allow us to translate our basic discoveries in the lab into the market. The people who come to this include startups and investors, all of them showing up to try to find the next emerging technology and the direction the field is going into.”

Vanapalli said the opportunity exists through the Innovation Zone to not only display his work and possibly enter into an agreement with a company to license the technology, but also to show Texas Tech is a research leader in the area of microfluidics.

“There are several opportunities here. A company could be interested in a product that is already made and wants to license it,” Vanapalli said. “Or, other companies might be interested in doing some research with our university in specific areas they are interested in. All of this opens up possibilities, and I'm very curious to see which directions it might lead to and how much excitement there is going to be there for our product.”