Three Queen’s researchers have been granted funding through the Queen’s Technology Development Pilot Program.
Marianna Kontopoulou, Sam Basta, and Yan-Fei Liu are the successful recipients of funding from the Technology Development Pilot Program (TDPP).
Enabled by the Vice-Principal Research Portfolio (VPR), and administered by Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation (QPI), the goal of the Program is to advance selected inventions with commercial potential to position them for other funding opportunities and make them attractive to potential licensees or investors. QPI announced the program in the summer, assessed the applications in the fall, and recommended the top-scoring applicants to the VPR for approval in November 2021.
“We were pleased to receive numerous applications for funding,” says Jim Banting, Assistant Vice-Principal, Partnerships and Innovation. “The review and deliberation processes were thorough and the selection of top proposals to recommend to the VPR for funding was not easy. The selected projects demonstrate promising commercial potential.”
This project, led by Marianna Kontopoulou (Professor of Chemical Engineering and Associate Dean in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science), will enhance the commercialization and licensing opportunities of a recently developed patent-pending process to produce graphene nanoplatelets (GNP) comprising of few-layers of stacked graphene.
“This funding allows us to explore application opportunities for our research that we didn’t have resources to explore previously,” says Dr. Kontopoulou.
Currently, the nanoplatelets produced using Dr. Kontopoulou’s technology are being used in polymer composites. With the help of this funding, Dr. Kontopoulou’s team hopes to explore their use in concrete for structural uses, asphalt, in water filtration or for uses outside of the traditional applications.
“This project was recommended for funding because industry has already expressed strong interest in the core exfoliation technology and the proposed project will help to broaden the commercial applications of the core technology and expand industry interest,” says Jason Hendry, Partnerships Development Officer (QPI).
Tumour cell vaccines
Sam Basta (Professor in the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) and his team are looking to develop cancer immunotherapies with the TDPP funding.
“This new funding will build off our initial discovery, where we study how immune cells can interact with and fight off tumour growth, and applied science, where we develop new intervention methods for cancer patients,” says Dr. Basta. “Our long-term goal is the development of new immune-based technologies for pharmaceutical purposes that can be applied broadly to a variety of different tumours.”
The concept behind the research is to develop ways to boost how cancer patient immune cells recognize tumours and develop immune memory to the tumour in cases where tumours relapse after initial interventions. In collaboration with Dr Katrina Gee (PhD, immunology), and under supervision by Dr. Basta, this research is led by Kyle Seaver (PhD candidate) who is developing new and more effective models to promote immune recognition of a developing tumour and to eliminate them after they develop. By using new combinations of immune stimulating regimens, comprised of immune-related proteins and immune stimulating compounds, the team will be educating the immune system to be more efficient at resisting tumour growth and formation.
“Immunotherapies have been a recent and valuable addition to cancer treatment options. We believe this novel cancer vaccine cocktail will expand and improve on these existing therapies,” says Mike Wells, Partnership Development Officer (QPI).
High-efficiency power conversion
Yan-Fei Liu (Professor and Chair of Graduate Studies in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering) heard about the TDPP opportunity through QPI’s email outreach.
“This collaborative project with DigiQ Power Ltd. represents a key step in the commercialization of a portfolio of Queen’s patents with strong market potential,” says Shoma Sinha, Partnerships Development Officer (QPI).
Dr. Liu’s team will be focusing on “Pulse Width Modulation Voltage Output Sensing” technology, specifically how the technology can accurately transfer the output voltage from the secondary side to the primary side of a power adapter. This project will use a digital control feature to achieve an accuracy goal of 3% or better as well as integrate and test the technology in DigiQ Power’s 160W Power Delivery Solution.
The resulting power adapter will not only be smaller and lower cost to make but will be capable of charging laptops, cell phones and tablets faster than anything currently available on the market.
“The technology is currently licensed to DigiQ,” says Dr. Liu, indicating that the technology already has a commercial application. DigiQ has developed strategic partnerships with several stakeholders in the ecosystem and is poised to bring the technology to market.
Funding equally awarded
Each lead researcher will receive funding in the amount of $20,000. Projects will be completed by the end of 2022. “We look forward to seeing how these projects advance the commercial readiness of these technologies,” says Dr. Banting.