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Lab announces selection of Venture Acceleration Fund recipients

Retriever Technology, Elemetric Instruments, Star Cryoelectronics, and Veezyon are recipients of awards.
January 7, 2009
Los Alamos National Laboratory sits on top of a once-remote mesa in northern New Mexico with the Jemez mountains as a backdrop to research and innovation covering multi-disciplines from bioscience, sustainable energy sources, to plasma physics and new materials.

Los Alamos National Laboratory sits on top of a once-remote mesa in northern New Mexico with the Jemez mountains as a backdrop to research and innovation covering multi-disciplines from bioscience, sustainable energy sources, to plasma physics and new materials.

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LOS ALAMOS, New Mexico, January 7, 2009—Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has selected Retriever Technology, Elemetric Instruments, Star Cryoelectronics, and Veezyon as recipients of awards from the Los Alamos National Security, LLC Venture Acceleration Fund.

The Laboratory’s Venture Acceleration Fund provides investments of up to $100,000 to regional entrepreneurs, companies, investors, or strategic partners that use LANL technology or expertise to create or grow regional businesses. Evaluation criteria for the funding include regional impact, team composition, technical feasibility, market opportunity, and the availability of matching funds or in-kind contributions. Los Alamos National Security has operated Los Alamos National Laboratory since June 2006.

“The projects selected this year support LANL’s core missions and open the door to new company formation or growth in Northern New Mexico,” said Steve Girrens, the Laboratory’s Technology Transfer Division leader. He added that since the fund was launched in fall 2006, the Laboratory has made awards totaling some $600,000 to six regional startups – all of which have licensed technology from LANL.

Among the companies selected to receive funding from the July 2008 call for proposals is an advanced digital imaging company located in Santa Fe called Retriever Technology, which is developing a demonstration package for its electron multiplication charge-coupled devices for a low-light imaging camera. They will be using the $25,000 in venture acceleration funds to upgrade the camera into a more user-friendly and functional form for customer demonstration and evaluation.

After coming close to an award last year, Andrew Bartlett, Retriever Technology general partner, said “We came back this year and showed LANL that we moved forward on our project and accomplished those things that we had said we would in our previous proposal.” Of the Venture Acceleration Fund award, Bartlett said, “We appreciate LANL’s belief in our efforts and would like to emphasize that for a small company, a little money carefully applied can go a long way.”

Elemetric Instruments plans to use its $100,000 in venture acceleration funds to ready for market its Element Presence Detector™ (EPD) prototype, based on a patented breakthrough technology developed at the Laboratory. The EPD™ is the world’s first plasma source-based field portable instrument that instantly detects elements in liquids and gases with continuous on line, real-time processing. Food manufacturers are interested in using the EPD technology in situ within the manufacturing line to tightly control the amount of vitamins and minerals used to fortify baby formula and energy drinks. For the pharmaceutical industry, the EPD device provides a much needed, field portable tool to detect counterfeit drugs. 

Daryl Ehrmantraut, Elemetric Instruments’ chief executive officer, credits the Venture Acceleration Fund committee for supporting the company’s goals at a critical time. “We secured customers but were unable to complete the design and unable to deliver due to lack of funding,” he said. “The Venture Acceleration Fund helped us over that hurdle, and we are now well on our way to becoming a successful company.”

Already a worldwide supplier of cryogenic electronic devices based on superconductors, Santa Fe-based STAR Cryoelectronics will use its $75,000 in venture acceleration funds to accelerate development of a commercial prototype high-resolution alpha particle spectrometer, AlphaSPEC, for critical applications in nuclear forensics and nuclear nonproliferation. “This new product line will have a significant impact on the company's business and growth, leading to several new high-tech job opportunities in Northern New Mexico,” said Robin Cantor, STAR Cryoelectronics president.

Veezyon Corporation, headquartered in Santa Fe, operates Veezyon.com, a knowledge-based online video site focusing on “shared interest” user collaboration. The company will use its $50,000 in venture acceleration funds to improve the technical capabilities of its Web site, including the incorporation of visual search, user profiles, basic social networking, user and content recommendation, and workgroup formation.

“The Venture Acceleration Fund has been a significant motivation for our team. We are working harder, moving quicker, and as a result building more value into our business,” said Doruk Aytulu, Veezyon’s cofounder and chief executive officer. “I believe the milestone-based approach of the Fund pushes awardees to deliver and make tangible business progress on an accelerated schedule. For every startup, it is crucial to build momentum, which is really tough and becomes even tougher in a fear-driven economy.”

About Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a team composed of Bechtel National, the University of California, The Babcock & Wilcox Company, and URS for the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.

Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.


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