Briber, Watson Receive MIPS Funding for Work with Zymetis

Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) Professor and Chair Robert M. Briber has received a $108,085 award from the Maryland Industrial Partnerships Program (MIPS) to advance the research a new research project he, Professor Steve Hutcheson (Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics [CBMG]), and MSE graduate student Brian Watson (co-advised by Briber, Hutcheson, and MSE Associate Professor Isabel Lloyd) perform for Zymetis, Inc., a College Park-based company developing a unique, low-cost solvent system used during the production of ethanol and other biofuels.

Zymetis' product degrades the crystallinity of cellulose, an important step in the biofuel production process. It accomplishes the task faster and and at a lower cost than the enzymes currently used in biomass digestion. The product is capable of breaking down the cellulose found in any plant matter, which would allow biofuel manufacturers to use waste products like corn cobs and paper as raw material.

Zymetis was launched by Hutcheson and Professor Emeritus Ron Weiner (CBMG) in 2006, and is currently part of the university's Technology Advancement Program (TAP), a venture incubator that matches startup companies with entrepreneurs. In 2009, Zymetis was named to the GoingGreen list of the top 50 companies in green technology.

Founded in 1987, MIPS, an initiative of the A. James Clark School of Engineering’s Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech), supports university-based research projects that help Maryland companies develop technology products. Commercial products benefiting from MIPS projects have generated more than $19.5 billion in revenue, added thousands of jobs to the region, and contributed to successes such as Martek Biosciences’ nutritional oils, Hughes Communications’ HughesNet™, MedImmune’s Synagis®, and Black & Decker’s Bullet® Speed Tip Masonry Drill Bit. Mtech also administers the TAP program.

For More Information:

Graduate Student Profile: Brian Watson »
Visit Zymetis' web site »
Mtech Press Release: Zymetis Inc. Named Top 50 “Cleantech/Greentech” Company »
Visit Mtech's MIPS web site »
Visit Mtech's TAP web site »

Published April 19, 2010