STAR Park Welcomes New Client
Posted by Austin Hall
Texas State STAR Park
May 2, 2018
SAN MARCOS, Texas (May 2, 2018) — Ion Indicators LLC has joined Texas State University’s STAR Park as its most recent incubator client and will move into the STAR One technology incubator on Friday, May 4. Ion Indicators designs, manufactures and sells fluorescent ion indicators used in biological and medical research. Synthetic dyes measure changes in ion concentration caused by the introduction of compounds facilitating the rapid identification by researchers of molecules which are promising candidates for drug development.
The company has significant angel investor backing, a business management team with over 50 years of combined experience and a strong research and development team led by Dr. Akwasi Minta.
“The availability of industry standard laboratory space, the opportunity to engage in mutually beneficial collaborations with Texas State and a support environment to assist with our growth made locating at STAR One an ideal solution,” said Jon Sheppard, CFO/COO of Ion Indicators.
“With the addition of Ion Indicators, our 36,000 sq. ft technology business incubator has reached full capacity. They were the ideal candidate for admission with a strong management team, a scalable business model and an interest in interaction with the University,” said Stephen Frayser, Executive Director of STAR Park
The Science Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Park is Texas State University’s 58-acre research park dedicated to collaboration with industry, government laboratories and nonprofit research institutions to accelerate innovation commercialization and entrepreneurship in the Innovation Corridor.
From Recycled Magnets to Polymers, New Materials Take off in San Marcos, Texas
Posted by Michele Nash-Hoff
April 19, 2018
During a visit to San Marcos, Texas, last month, I visited four diverse manufacturers, both in size and product type. Three of the four are developing products using new materials—examples of the spillover of technology research related to the Materials Science, Engineering and Commercialization (MSEC) program at Texas State University.
Here is a look at where we visited, who we talked with and the exciting mix of technology and manufacturing we saw, from recycled rare earth magnets to polymers for Formula One race cars.
Urban Mining Company is still in Austin, waiting to relocate to San Marcos later this year, when their 100,000-square-foot building is ready. CEO Scott Dunn, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and the University of Southern California, started the company in 2015. Urban Mining produces high-performance magnets from recycled rare-earth materials.
In the early days of the company, Dunn spent a lot of time in China building relationships, so he could buy down time from factory owners that had overcapacity.
In the meantime, he sought investors from around the United States “because we wanted to be able to commercialize our technology very quickly. Out of 90 to 100 investor groups [that were interested in the business], only a few fit our bill.”
In June 2016, the company secured $25 million in first-round venture capital funding to build a rare-earth magnet manufacturing facility in the U.S. “After careful consideration, we chose San Marcos because it offers the skilled workforce and infrastructure needed to support our fast-growing operation,” Dunn said.
Once the facility is complete, Urban Mining expects to add more than 100 manufacturing and technology jobs to the region.
Urban Mining also spent a lot of time and money initially protecting its intellectual property with patents. “We knew that we had original technology and had to be able to protect it,” Dunn said.
The factory relationships that Dunn has built in China have gone a long way toward supplying components—including hard disks and motors—to use for recycling the rare-earth material.
Urban Mining is the only company producing Neodymium Iron Boron (Nd-Fe-B) rare earth permanent magnets, said Dunn. The recycling process uses zero chemical inputs and wastewater.
The magnets are used in technology development and applications across the consumer, medicine, defense, aerospace, clean energy, and industrial sectors. Urban Mining is working with companies including Tesla, GM, Ford, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Boeing to develop products for the commercial and military/defense industries.
“I believe that reusing rare magnets is critical to a cleaner future, and we have created a closed loop supply chain to upcycle these materials into products that can have a positive impact,” said Dunn.
“Most people don’t understand the ubiquity of magnets,” added Dunn.
Availability of high-performance magnets became an issue in 2010, when the only rare earth mine and production facility in the U. S., MolyCorp Inc., went into bankruptcy, and the assets were bought by Chinalco’s subsidiary, Shenghe Resources in 2011. The equipment was dismantled and moved China.
“It’s critical that we develop this technology because China has the goal of controlling the supply of rare earth products by 2025,” said Dunn. “If they succeed, then they could control the world. “
Paratus Diagnostics, a firm that specializes in medical devices for point-of-care diagnostics, was one of two manufacturers we visited at STAR Park, Texas State University’s incubator.
Paratus CEO John C. Carrano founded the company in 2012, and it moved to the incubator 2 ½ years ago. The company is developing a handheld medical testing device called PreparedNow that delivers results quickly, allowing clinicians to make decisions during patient visits that could improve outcomes. The first diagnostic test available on the device will be a periodontal test where there is “zero competition in the market,” said Carrano. Results, displayed on a smartphone with color bar graphs, are available in six minutes.
“We are well past the startup phase and are about 18 months away from being cash positive,” Carrano said. “It’s a long and complex product development cycle for medical devices. Medical diagnostics is not viewed by investors as a get-rich-quick kind of venture, but it is going to be a $10 billion industry in the future. “
Carrano has deep military, technological and research expertise that includes 24 years in the Army. An electrical engineer with a bachelor’s degree from West Point and a doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin, he was a program manager at DARPA, where he led several major Defense Department programs related to bio-sensing after the 2001 anthrax attacks in Washington. Before founding Paratus, he was vice president of research and development at Luminex Corp., a medical device company, and developed an implantable device to diagnose a medical threat.
Having raised $5 million in private equity from angel investors, the company has 26 full-time employees and will probably be up to 37 by year’s end. “We also have grants and plan to launch the product into the marketplace in about 18 months,” said Carrano.
Blueshift Materials, also in the STAR Park incubator, was founded in 2013 by Tim Burbey, now the company’s president, and Garrett Poe to commercialize polymer aerogels. In 2014, Blueshift became an affiliate of pressure-sensitive film product manufacturer FLEXcon,
In 2015, Blueshift launched its AeroZero product line—an aerogel similar to foam that consists of 85% air. The products were designed to meet customer demand for a clean, lightweight, small footprint insulation material that can easily be incorporated into composites. They are made in a batch rather than continuous process.
“It starts out as a polyimide resin and through a proprietary process, it is transformed into the various aerogel products,” said Burbey. The new manufacturing process will take only minutes vs. weeks, “which will greatly reduce cost and open new markets.”
Burbey showed me several different shapes and styles of the products they can make now, from blocks to film to powder. The material has good properties for thermal management. Since it is 100% plastic, it is very good for incorporating into composites. The products have applications in the aerospace, cryogenic, membrane separation, radio electronics and automotive industries.
“We make a film for a Formula One race car by adding it to Kapton,” added Burbey. “We work with a lot of electronics and RF product companies. Our materials have RF transparency, so will allow signals to go through, but they also provide thermal management.”
The aerogels can also withstand temperature extremes from -200 to 300 degrees Celcius, and have a high strength-to-weight ratio.
Blueshift moved into the STAR Park incubator in the fall of 2016 , and also has an applications engineering lab facility in New Braunfels, Texas, about 20 miles southwest of San Marcos. The company polymerizes its own materials from polyimide at our facility in San Antonio, TX.
Blueshift has good relationship with the Materials Science, Engineering, and Commercialization (MSEC) program at Texas State University and has hired graduates, said Burbey.
Research and development projects include teaming up with a Palo Alto research company to “look at using different polymers besides polymide.” and, thanks to a $3 million Department of Energy grant, developing transparent and thermally insulating Aerogel for single-pane windows “as part of a project to restore historic windows in the Northeast.”
Bautex Systems LLC is focused on providing builders and architects with smarter, stronger, more versatile building materials and solutions. Bautex President Paul Brown is a serial entrepreneur with an MBA from Duke University. He has enjoyed a diverse career working in industries ranging from technology and telecommunications to construction products.
The company manufactures the Bautex Wall System, a proprietary cement mixture and expanded polystyrene for interior and exterior walls for commercial and residential construction. It combines structure, enclosure, continuous insulation and air and moisture protection in a single, integrated assembly that can be installed by a single contractor—saving time, effort and cost. The system provides 26% more energy savings than what new building energy codes require.
Bautex moved back to Austin during the dot.com bust and was involved in a VOIP company. But he wanted to build houses, and found a technology very similar to Bautex. He invested in the company, but wanted to do manufacturing in the right way, and that company needed a better manufacturing process.
In 2008, Brown and business partner Oliver Lee found the right machine in Europe, so had some custom molds made and took them over to Europe. They rented factory time for two weeks and replaced the wood filler with polystyrene to make blocks.
“We mixed the ingredients together and poured it into the mold,” recalled Brown. “It was an expensive and slow process. We added sand to the blocks and reduced cycle time to 30 seconds to make four 32 X 16-inch blocks in the mold. We had a goal of a weight of less than 50 lbs.”
They then spent a couple of years doing R&D before moving the operation to San Marcos. In 2013, they started shipping products and now have six plants along the I-35 corridor.
Brown thinks the U.S. needs a new paradigm for construction. “The process has to be better,” he said. When you analyze building construction, 90% of the work to build a house is non-value-added. We need to reduce the costs of construction, and the buildings need to perform better. We had five buildings that were within five miles of Hurricane Harvey, and they did well.”
Six of the ten fastest growing U.S. counties are in Texas, Brown said, “but the access to labor for the construction industry is not here. There is a shortage of masons in Texas. Panelization in construction is appealing to a new generation of contractors,” but the industry has not yet embraced new technology.
In 2020, a new building code will take effect, and each code changes pushes the bar higher.
“We are now building one- to three-story buildings, and we can build faster than traditional construction methods,” said Brown. “We have been nearly 99% commercial, but now we are going after residential work."
Paratus Diagnostics Wins International Award for Innovation
Posted by Miranda Ferris
Texas State STAR Park
October 12, 2017
SAN MARCOS, Texas (October 12, 2017) – Paratus Diagnostics, LLC received the Innovation Award from the Association of University Research Parks (AURP) for developing a novel point of care diagnostic platform to detect infectious disease pathogens. The award is given annually to a company located in a science or research park who is commercializing a technology which has significant impact on its industry and has meaningful benefits for society.
Paratus Diagnostics moved into Texas State’s Science, Technology, and Advanced Research (STAR) Park in 2015, and has conducted innovative research in the STAR One technology incubator since then. They have received funding support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense. In 2016, they successfully closed their Series A equity funding round.
“At Paratus, our philosophy is to ‘think, innovate, invent’ and we have used this strategy to transform the way diagnostics tests can be performed at the point of care in doctor’s offices, small clinics, urgent care settings, or developing countries,” according to Dr. Shannon Weigum, VP of Biological Sciences.
According to Stephen Frayser, STAR Park Executive Director, “Paratus Diagnostics exemplifies what is possible through close collaboration between the private sector and universities. The firm has worked closely with faculty in the Biology Department and Materials Science, Engineering and Commercialization Program at Texas State, funding research supporting product development, hired Texas State graduates and provided internships for university students.”
If you would like to learn more about Paratus Diagnostics, please visit their website at www.paratusdiagnostics.com.
STAR Park is Texas State University’s 58 acre research park being developed as a location dedicated to collaboration with industry, governmental labs and nonprofit research institutions to increase innovation, commercialization and entrepreneurship. For more information please visit the STAR Park website at www.txstate.edu/starpark
Rededication marks completed STAR One research building expansion
Posted by Jayme Blaschke
Office of Media Relations
October 20, 2016
Texas State University will host a rededication of the STAR One technology incubator in the Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Park October 24.
The event celebrating the STAR One expansion will run 3:30-5 p.m. at 3055 Hunter Road in San Marcos. U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith will offer remarks.
The expansion, completed September 1, added 16,000 square feet of lab space and office suites, bringing STAR One’s square footage up to a total of 36,000 square feet. The new wet labs will support the needs of a broad range of users requiring chemistry, materials and life sciences lab space to advance new products and processes more quickly to the market place. A conference room, large multipurpose room, leasable offices and an open collaborative space were included in the expansion.
STAR Park has been an instrumental part of the university’s research success, allowing the university to partner with promising technology startups. These startups benefit from the expertise and skilled work of Texas State’s faculty and students, who in turn gain valuable knowledge working on commercial innovation. There are currently five clients leasing space at the facility. Nine Texas State graduates are working for these STAR Park clients, four current students are serving paid internships and an additional eight students are working on student-led startups. Over the last three fiscal years, these startups have funded more than $1.2 million worth of research, and collectively have raised in excess of $28 million in equity investments.
Active research areas include material sciences (semiconductors, nanomaterials, advanced polymers used in aerospace and automotive applications), life sciences (diagnostics, advanced DNA analysis, medical devices and new research tools), advanced manufacturing (lighting and display products, renewable energy production) and software platforms.
About STAR Park
STAR Park is a collaborative effort of Texas State University and research partners serving as a catalyst for continued public/private development of new or improved technologies. Anchored by the STAR One technology business incubator, the 58-acre STAR Park is currently home to five new and emerging technology companies, student startup teams, an advanced polymers and nanomaterials center and Texas State's Small Business Development Center.
Forbes on America's Next Metropolis
The positive momentum of job growth and economic strength in the Greater San Marcos Region is something the city and region's leadership has known and invested in for some time. Now others are taking notice - notably Forbes.
"America's Next Great Metropolis is Taking Place in Texas," claims
Forbes today in an article that takes a deep look into the boom taking place along the Austin-San Antonio Corridor, and specifically the San Marcos region.
The article says, "Over the past decade, Hays and Comal's job growth rate has been an astounding 37%, outpacing Austin's impressive 31% growth, the other Texas cities, and over six times the pace of the country overall." It later notes that the arrival of Amazon.com, Inc. to San Marcos is one of many factors drawing attraction to the corridor.
Additionally, the article lends to the development of this corridor as a future "San Jose/Silicon Valley, north Dallas, Orange County and Raleigh-Durham" and credits the emerging tech and innovation reputation of the corridor to Texas State University.
Click the link below to read the article and then please help us tell the story by sharing with your networks.