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Company based on bark beetle research at UNR wins competition
by Tribune Staff
Mar 11, 2013 | 1879 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
RENO — A new company that uses the enzymes of bark beetles to control the devastating effects the beetles can have on a forest, EscaZyme Biochemicals, LLC, was awarded the $50,000 gold prize this week as the winner in the University of Nevada, Reno’s Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition. The Monroe-Schuler Foundation silver prize of $5,000 went to ElectroVentures, Inc., a company that specializes in products for the $4 billion electronic dance music industry.

University alumnus Rick Sontag for whom the competition was named, and his wife, Susan, announced the winners via Skype at a luncheon ceremony at the Joe Crowley Student Union. Sontag’s $1 million gift to the university created the competition in 2011.

The enzymes, discovered in bark beetles from trees in the Lake Tahoe area, have the potential to be used for a wide range of products including the pesticide and insect attractant application selected as the starting place for the business venture. The company is already working with a potential first client.

EscaZyme was accepted earlier into a highly competitive and intense National Science Foundation business-validation program known as Innovation Corps or I-Corps. The $50,000 I-Corps grant, the University’s Technology Transfer Office programs and continued use of a lab provided by Professor Gary Blomquist, chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, have also provided much-needed support for the company.
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