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October 17, 2002

Governor Awards $3.1 Million In Tech Challenge Grants

CHICAGO -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced $3.17 million in state Technology Challenge Grants to thirteen businesses and universities whose innovative techniques and procedures are setting the stage for the development of a wide array of products in areas as diverse as aeronautics, medicine, energy and interactivity.

“Illinois’ role as a leader in research and innovation ranges from farm fields to the Internet,” said Ryan. “These current investments in cutting edge companies and research reflect our ongoing commitment to supporting those who are working to establish products and services that will benefit the business community and our residents alike.”

Technology Challenge Grants are designed to fund science and technology projects, partnerships between universities and industry, high-tech commercialization projects, transfer projects and infrastructure improvements. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs (DCCA) administers the program.

“Governor Ryan has shown a strong commitment to enhancing our state's position in the global economy by supporting innovation,” said DCCA Director Pam McDonough. “Our assistance to these entrepreneurs and researchers will pay future dividends in terms of creative products benefiting business and individuals alike.”


Nanosphere, Inc. (Northbrook) $250,000

Staphylococcus Speciation and Methicillin Resistance Assay and Detection System

Nanosphere, Inc. is developing a marketable product for detection, species identification (speciating) and mecA gene detection of Staphylococcus. Their assay and its detection systems will be accurate, reliable and provide an automatically measured result in less than 4 hours. This detection system will enable improved patient care by allowing quicker and more accurate treatment of infected patients. The Tech Challenge Grant will help fund the commercialization of this technology into a diagnostic test comprised of reagents, biological probes, aids for conducting the test and an instrument to automatically read the result.

Isotech Laboratories, Inc. (Champaign) $151,000

Development and Commercialization of the TRAGEN™ Process

Isotech Laboratories, Inc., has developed new technology, the TRAGEN™ Process, which is capable of reliably and inexpensively providing a much needed tracer for natural gas that is injected into underground gas storage reservoirs. Isotech, in consortium with the Illinois State Geological Survey at the University of Illinois (ISGS), and the Gas Technology Institute (Des Plaines) is pursuing the testing and commercial development of the TRAGEN™ Process. There are over 400 underground gas storage fields in the U.S., over 30 of which are in Illinois. Safe and efficient operation of these reservoirs is critical to the energy future of our country. No suitable tag or tracer is available for the identification of gas that is injected into underground storage reservoirs. There is a critical need for such tracers, both on environmental and economic grounds.

Argus Systems Group (Savoy) $199,963

High-Assurance e-Infrastructure Protection Using Domain-Based Access Controls

This project will develop, manufacture, and market Domain-Based Access Control (DBAC) software to secure computers at their most fundamental level, the operating system. This technology addresses a dire Internet security situation that costs trillions of dollars per year worldwide in financial losses, and which has become all the more urgent in light of the September 11 terrorist attacks. This undertaking will be the initial, core project for the Center for Advanced Research in Information Security (CARIS), which was established in November 2001 jointly by Argus and the University of Illinois, and which has been designated by the National Security Agency (NSA) as a “Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.”

University of Illinois (Chicago) $300,000

Midwest Nanofabrication Center – Deep Reactive Ion Etcher

This project will expand the centralized capabilities of UIC’s MAL (Microfabrication Applications Laboratory) into nanofabrication by adding to the MAL’s equipment a dual chamber Deep Reactive Ion Etcher (DRIE). After nanometer scale patterns are made in a photo or electron sensitive resist mask with deep UV or electron beam lithography, this is the most capable instrument researchers can use to transfer the finest patterns by etching (removing) the material directly below the mask from a thin film or a substrate. This instrument is currently not publicly accessible in the economically vital northern Illinois region, and is sought after by the industrial and academic community.

QuesTek Innovations, LLC (Evanston) $151,858

Computational Design of Advanced Materials: Nanostructured Cybersteels

QuesTek Innovations is a materials solutions company that is commercializing a computational materials design technology. The technology springs from basic research conducted at Northwestern University’s multi-institutional university/industry/government Steel Research Group. Simply stated, Materials by Design® is a cost-effective computational-based development process that allows for the rapid creation of new or improved materials and manufacturing processes. The technology is based upon predictable designs rather than discovery, and represents a major technological advancement over the traditional empirical method of materials development. This revolutionary change, spurred by the demand for advanced nanostructured materials, requires computational modeling and experimentation methodology, which couples material properties with processing parameters to optimize material design.

The Jellyvision Lab, Inc. (Chicago) $250,000

Development of Version 0.5 of Jellyvision Talks

Jellyvision, Inc. is the creator of one of the top-selling interactive games and CD-ROM series of all time, You Don’t Know Jack, and is considered a pioneer in the interactive games industry whose influence has extended from Chicago to Hollywood and around the world. The Jellyvision Lab was established to forge a new approach to interactivity called The Interactive Conversation Interface (ICI) that will not only supercede websites as the dominant form of interactive mass communication, but will define how human beings interact with wireless devices, PC’s and interactive television. The Jellyvision Lab was formed to create the software tool necessary to allow hundreds of thousands of producers to apply ICI to everything from health care to corporate training, from auctions to teaching. The tool is called Jellyvision Talks.

VasSol, Inc. (Chicago) $198,328

Development and Commercialization of N-VAS-D™ (Neurovascular Visualization and Diagnosis) Version 3.0

This project encompasses the final development and commercialization of N-VAS-D, the diagnostic component of the CANVAS (Computer Aided Neurovascular Analysis and Simulation) technology researched at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center. The CANVAS technology uses MRI data to calculate blood flow non-invasively. CANVAS has been used to diagnose vascular disorders in patients at UIC Medical Dept. of Neurosurgery and implemented in more than 250 cases, many of which were referrals. N-VAS-D provides physicians with the ability to monitor patients with neurovascular disorders to help prevent and identify recurrence, which is critical in chronic diseases.

Cobotics, Inc. (Evanston) $274,154

Commercialization and Development of Intelligent Assist Devices (IADs)

Technology Challenge grant funds will be used for critical commercialization activities related to Cobotics’ line of IAD products. Specifically the funds will be used for a) commercially hardening the product line to ensure the highest level of safety, reliability, maintainability and b) zeroing-in on the customer need by developing and commercializing key product enhancements to address the market need for equipment to manipulate loads between 200lbs and 1000lbs.).

Fibrogenex, Inc. (Chicago) $300,000

Technology for Producing Therapeutic Proteins

Fibrogenex has developed new technology for producing proteins for therapeutic use. It holds patents on key steps of the technology. The technology uses normal human cells in culture to produce the proteins, which are identical to the normal protein. The technology has been applied to its first protein, human cellular fibronectin, which is indistinguishable from fibronectin found in the body. Fibrogenex now plans to apply the process to a new group of about 25 proteins with therapeutic potential.

TransPhotonics, LLC (Chicago) $306,788

A Multi-Functional Optical Switch: A WDM, Add/Drop Multiplexer and Cross-Connect Device

To take advantage of the full potential of light as a carrier of digital information, the telecommunication industry is moving towards an all-optical network architecture. To meet the requirements of this strategy, further development and improvement of switching components is necessary. TransPhotonics, LLC has developed a number of polymeric materials with properties exceeding those of the best inorganic materials. The physical and chemical “flexibility” of these modern polymeric materials make them strongly advantageous over other materials for these types of applications. They provide a large inventory of photonic materials that have low dielectric constant and can be chemically modified to suit specific applications. The company proposes to construct a novel device that can perform several critical tasks for the telecommunication industry and can be manufactured at a fraction of the cost of the inorganic-based devices.

ChemSensing Incorporated (Northbrook/Champaign-Urbana) $291,125

Colorimetric Gas Sensor for Medical, Consumer and Industrial Applications

ChemSensing, Inc. (CSI) is a biosensor and chemical sensor company using an approach known as artificial olfaction with a next generation sensor array. This platform technology enables CSI sensors to detect molecules responsible for odors. CSI uses an array of dyes that change color in response tot the airborne analytes that make up smell. This colorimetric array creates an entirely new kind of “electronic nose” that can identify airborne chemicals and their concentrations, with extremely high sensitivity at extremely low costs. Funding will be used to develop this technology and produce prototype devices, and to demonstrate it applicability to a wide range of markets.

Ghetzler Aero-Power Corporation (Buffalo Grove) $250,000

Development of a Ground and Flight Version of our Ram Air Turbine Generator Invention with Increased Power Capability for Dual Use (Military and Commercial Aircraft)

This is a two-phased project, the end result being a flyable version of Ghetzler’s invention in conjunction with the U. S. Naval Air (NAVAIR). The first phase (Phase A) will involve the development of a ground demo, which will be subject to wind tunnel and vibration testing prior to development of a flight system. The development will involve systems significantly larger than the present 2 to 5 kW power output engineering demonstration models that are presently being worked on for the Unmanned Air Vehicle market (UAVs). Technology Challenge grant funding will be used to help fund staff to support the project, acquire additional testing and manufacturing equipment and perform wind tunnel test of the ground prototype at the National Diagnostic Wind Tunnel at the Illinois Institute Technology in Chicago.

Integrated Genomics (Chicago) $247,992

Genomics of Riboflavin Superproduction

Integrated Genomics (IG) will use wild type and IG’s riboflavin-producing strains for an in-depth study of the changes resulting in vitamin B2 overproduction using different structural and functional genomics techniques.


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