NMSU Arrowhead Center wins fifth NSF award for developing innovative technologies

New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center has received its fifth award from the National Science Foundation I-Corps this year.

Created in 2011, the I-Corps is a program of initiatives designed to foster entrepreneurship among scientists and engineers with the goal of commercializing NSF-funded basic research. In October, I-Corps awarded an NMSU-based team $50,000 to conduct market research to commercialize an organic pesticide technology.

I-Corps teams participate in an intensive seven-week course to learn the I-Corps process and interview more than 100 potential customers to understand the market for a new discovery arising out of academic research. I-Corps teams incorporate three members: a student entrepreneurial lead, a principal investigator and a business mentor.

The I-Corps team that won the most recent award has developed a patent pending eco-friendly, organic, plant essential oil-based bio-pesticide called NMX that has been demonstrated to be an effective and safe plant fungicide, bactericide, nematicide and insecticide. NMX has been tested in laboratory, greenhouse, and field trials both in Mexico and the U.S. on a variety of plants, including tomatoes, chiles, jalapenos, bell pepper and turfgrass.

Currently NMX is being tested on representative insects, is being registered with the EPA as a biopesticide and is registered with the EPA biopesticide division as a biochemical.

The pesticide “is an incredible discovery” said team mentor and Studio G Director Kramer Winingham. “We’re very excited to participate in I-Corps to help bring this safe organic pesticide to market.”

Five other I-Corps teams have also been mentored at Arrowhead recently, including a team working on the development of non-weighted digital circuits for low power medical devices aimed at baby boomers. The devices will sense, process and transmit biomedical signals and identify abnormal signals using predefined algorithms and signal processing hardware, and call for help when necessary.

“Getting into a program like NSF I-Corps is really going to assist this very promising early stage technology find the right market application,” said team mentor Jason Koenig.

I-Corps teams based at NMSU are also working on a revolutionary technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions and significantly reduce pollution worldwide, creating and developing learning products using games and animations to help students better understand math, low-cost reduced-gravity technologies that will better prepare astronauts for space missions, and developing portable protection shields for use by civilians during violent attacks.

Author:  Adriana M. Chavez NMSU