May 1, 2019 at 3:19 pm

Biology Faculty Start-up Invited to Entrepreneurship Showcase

Dr. Anne Loucks (background) and Lyn Bowman (foreground) work in their laboratory in Irvine Hall where they have developed technology to measure human bone strength.

Dr. Anne Loucks (background) and Lyn Bowman (foreground) work in their laboratory in Irvine Hall where they have developed technology to measure human bone strength. Photo by Ben Siegel.

From Compass

Ohio University’s affiliated company AEIOU Scientific LLC was one of 20 startups selected to participate in the 2019 University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Showcase on April 10 in Washington, D.C.

Hosted by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and the Association of American Universities, the event spotlights 20 startup companies from across the nation that have created products and services using federally funded, university-based research. This is the first time Ohio University and one of its affiliated startups have been selected to participate in the showcase.

Dr. Anne Loucks and Dr. Lyn Bowman, faculty in Biological Sciences, are part of the AEIOU Scientific team recently awarded $875,000 from the OHIO Innovation Strategy to develop technology to measure human bone strength. Loucks is Chief of Skeletal Health Research, and Bowman is Chief Technology Officer.

“AEIOU Scientific is developing instruments based on patent-pending Cortical Bone Mechanics Technology™ to help scientists measure what they could not measure before: accurate, non-invasive, direct functional measurements of structural mechanical properties of cortical bone in the ulnas of living people,” says the company’s website.

Research on Female Athletes with Bone Fractures

Loucks initiated development of the technology almost a decade ago. While conducting research on female athletes who experienced bone fractures, Loucks discovered that existing technologies didn’t accurately measure or predict bone strength.

The Ohio Musculoskeletal and Neurological Institute provided seed funding to Loucks to support the project in 2014. In early 2016, Ohio University’s Innovation Strategy program awarded a team led by Loucks, co-inventor Bowman of the College of Arts & Sciences, and Brian Clark of the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine a $875,000 grant to further develop the technology, which is patent-pending.

The team recently received a Phase I SBIR grant from the National Institute on Aging that was essential to the commercializing the technology. Ohio University was one of six founding higher education institutions of the state’s I-Corp@Ohio program, designed to help faculty and graduate students develop their technologies for the marketplace and launch startup businesses. This team was one of seven from Ohio University to have been chosen to participate in I-Corp@Ohio. AEIOU Scientific is also a TechGROWTH Ohio portfolio company, receiving operational assistance and support to help them develop and grow.

A Client of the Innovation Center

Ohio University licensed the technology that can accurately estimate bone strength to AEIOU Scientific, which is now a client of the Innovation Center. AEIOU Scientific began offering the Cortical Bone Mechanics Technology™ for sale as a scientific research product during fall 2018. It also plans to begin conducting clinical trials in 2019 to gain approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to sell the technology as a medical device for osteoporosis diagnosis, according to the company.

“Having a startup selected through this competitive process affirms OHIO’s commitment to commercialization of technologies. It shines a light on OHIO’s ability to attract, retain and support faculty with novel ideas. In the case of AEIOU Scientific, it also cements and affirms OHIO’s commitment to supporting a technology that will benefit society,” said Stacy Strauss, director of the Innovation Center, Ohio University’s business incubator.

Ohio University’s academic and administrative leadership successfully moved the faculty technology through the commercialization pipeline, Strauss noted. The project received funding from internal sources, including the Innovation Strategy program. In addition to its federal funding, the company has received support from state of Ohio programs and angel investors.

The University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Showcase attracts government contractors, federal agencies, legislators, potential customers and federal representatives that work within the many facets of the commercialization process, according to Strauss. Examples include the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Patent Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration.

“As a result of this opportunity to showcase its technology to potential partners, funders and customers, AEIOU will experience an expedited path to market and may also experience an uptick in investment and governmental support,” Strauss said.

Ohio University is one of the APLU’s 241 members across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, four U.S. territories, Canada and Mexico. OHIO President M. Duane Nellis was appointed to a three-year term on its inaugural Commission on Economic and Community Engagement earlier this year.


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