Jul 10, 2018
TechAccel awards STAIR grant for tomato gene editing work

TechAccel, the Kansas City-based technology and venture development company, has selected a grant recipient under the Venture Catalyst Science Translation and Innovative Research (STAIR) Grant program at the University of California, Davis.

Anne Britt, Ph.D., a professor in the UC Davis Department of Plant Biology, will receive $50,000 to perform a proof-of-concept of her technology–a novel method of rapid and efficient gene editing in a tomato plant.

TechAccel earlier committed to an expansion of the Venture Catalyst STAIR grant program, which is in its fifth year. TechAccel was also represented on the STAIR Grant selection committee that reviewed 29 applications from UC Davis researchers for this year’s award. The winning candidate receives funding for proof-of-concept research aimed at demonstrating commercial feasibility.

“Anne’s approach to gene editing is potentially simpler than existing methods,” said Brad Fabbri, Ph.D., TechAccel’s Chief Science Officer. “For certain crops, the technology avoids the tissue culture and cell biology steps that are typically required to effect gene engineering in plants.”

Dushyant Pathak, Ph.D., Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Executive Director of Venture Catalyst at UC Davis, noted that TechAccel’s expanded funding resulted in twice the number of applications in the targeted areas of plant and animal agriculture, animal health, animal nutrition and technologies to reduce post-harvest food waste and increase food safety.

“We are excited to see the support from TechAccel leading to increased engagement across our campus in these important areas of translational research, and look forward to the impact it will have on the very promising technology being developed by Professor Britt,” he said. “We look forward to continued engagement with TechAccel in support of our mission to translate cutting-edge research and university innovation into products with societal impact.”

In addition to the TechAccel-funded grant, the program awarded five additional grants. See UC Davis for more details on the projects funded.

Members of the TechAccel team will serve as mentors to the grant-winning researcher, and may also consider the project for future TechAccel investment, in alignment with the TechAccel business model. The company invests in innovative technology and funds science advancement programs to accelerate readiness for commercialization.

TechAccel recently announced an investment in a science advancement project at The Siegel Lab in the Genome Center at UC Davis. This project, led by Justin B. Siegel, Ph.D., Faculty Director of the Innovation Institute for Food and Health, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry & Molecular Medicine at UC Davis, is directed toward identifying mutations in a wheat enzyme that can produce plants capable of thriving in warmer temperatures.

TechAccel began its collaboration with UC Davis in 2016 with its participation in the Venture Catalyst STAIR-Plus program, which supports STAIR grant recipients who successfully achieve their commercialization milestones.

TechAccel LLC was founded in 2014 as a first-of-its-kind technology and venture development company in the agriculture, animal health and food technology sectors. TechAccel sources, invests in and acquires early-stage innovations. Through collaborations with universities and research institutions, TechAccel conducts advancement and de-risking research and development to ready technologies for commercialization. For more information, visit www.techaccel.net. Follow on Twitter at @Tech_Accel.

Photo above: Anne Britt, a professor in the UC Davis Department of Plant Biology, is developing a novel method of rapid and efficient gene editing in tomato. Photo: José Luis Villegas/UC Davis

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