UT Dallas-Affiliated Companies Receive Nearly
$8 Million In Emerging Technology Fund Grants

March 12, 2009

UT Dallas researchers are working closely with five local high-tech companies that will receive nearly $8 million from the latest round of awards from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced the awards March 5 at Tech Success 2009, an event sponsored by the North Texas Regional Center for Innovation and Commercialization.

The five UT Dallas-affiliated companies are Modria Inc., Solarno Inc., Syndiant Inc., 21-Century Silicon Inc. and Wham! Inc. Syndiant and 21-Century Silicon will each receive $3.5 million, and the other companies will receive $250,000 each. (Four other companies also received a total of $5 million in this round of awards.)

Solarno – a UT Dallas spin-out company – and 21-Century Silicon are working on different aspects of solar-energy technology, Syndiant is working on image-projection technology, Wham! is developing next-generation video applications, and Modria is developing customizable supply-chain management software.

“This is a perfect example of the role we’re determined to play on an ever-larger scale as we expand our research portfolio, working closely with innovative young high-tech companies to produce technology that benefits people in North Texas and far beyond,” said Bruce Gnade, Ph.D., vice president for research at UT Dallas and holder of the Distinguished Chair in Microelectronics.

Perhaps most gratifying of all, he added, is that the nine UT Dallas researchers working with the companies come from half a dozen disciplines – physics, chemistry, computer science, electrical engineering, telecommunications engineering and materials science – demonstrating the scope of the University’s rapidly expanding research enterprise, which topped $64 million last year.

Five Companies With Big Ideas

Syndiant manufactures light-modulating microchips used in projectors small enough to embed in a cell phone. Syndiant’s patented technologies are designed to provide a large-screen experience in handheld electronics such as smartphones, notebook computers, portable media players, video game consoles and cameras. Based in Dallas, Syndiant is working with Vojin Oklobdzija and Poras Balsara of the electrical engineering faculty in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at UT Dallas. Experts in low-power and ultra-low-power chip design, they’re working to help make the company’s products both more energy efficient and more cost competitive.

21-Century Silicon’s focus is on solar-grade silicon, the major raw material for silicon-based solar cells. The Garland company’s technology reduces both the cost and environmental impact of solar-grade silicon manufacturing. Working closely with Dr. Gnade, who is also a professor of materials science and engineering, and chemistry, the company plans to commercialize the technology and scale up its manufacturing operations.

Irving-based Modria is working to commercialize software that allows clients to customize supply-chain processes such as manufacturing or the movement of materials. UT Dallas will be Modria’s strategic partner for designing a prototype and a supply chain domain language for construction and execution of customizable supply chain planning strategies. Three computer scientists from the Jonsson School are working closely with Modria: Gopal Gupta, Farokh Bastani and I-Ling Yen.

Solarno is developing novel solar cells that use carbon nanotube technology to access the power of the full solar spectrum (in contrast to existing silicon-based solar cells that use only a small fraction of sunlight). The Coppell-based company is working with two faculty members from the UT Dallas School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics: John P. Ferraris and Anvar Zakhidov.

Wham! is working to commercialize next-generation high-definition video applications intended to revolutionize the way friends and family communicate. The Allen-based company is working with the head of the Jonsson School’s telecommunications program, Andrea Fumagalli.


Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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Vojin Oklobdzija (left) and Poras Balsara are helping Syndiant Inc. develop its image-projection technology. The company’s work is being supported by a $3.5 million award from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund.

Executives from Solarno Inc. confer at the Tech Success 2009 event. From left: Dr. Dennis Robbins, director; Dr. John Ferraris, CEO; and Dr. Anvar Zakhidov, president. (Photo courtesy of Djakhangir Zakhidov)


The Emerging Technology Fund
and the North Texas RCIC

The $200 million Texas Emerging Technology Fund was created by the State Legislature in 2005 and renewed in 2007 to encourage the establishment of early stage companies, to expedite the commercialization of emerging technology and to simultaneously provide economic development investment in the state. ETF is also designed to enable Texas universities to establish research superiority by recruiting world-class faculty with experience in commercializing technology.

The North Texas Regional Center for Innovation and Commercialization is responsible for helping the Texas Emerging Technology Fund identify, pre-screen, counsel and process commercialization funding applications. Within its 63-county region, the NTXRCIC collaborates with economic development organizations, institutions of higher education, community resource partners and businesses to encourage the development of new technology-based high-growth potential businesses.

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