Two Professors Receive Innovation Prize

HOUSTON – New technologies developed by University of Houston researchers have been awarded the Goradia Innovation Prize, which recognizes the best innovations from Texas Gulf Coast universities and research institutions.

Vijay Goradia and Marie Goradia, who holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology, and their family established the inaugural prize project for early-stage companies in the region that have commercialized or are close to commercializing innovative technologies.

A total of $100,000 was awarded to nine companies recently at the Gulf Coast Innovation Conference & Showcase, which was hosted by the Houston Technology Center. The prize money is to be used to help bring the technology to the marketplace.

The first prize award of $25,000 went to SeprOx Corp., which is developing a device that separates pure oxygen from air for use in hospitals, nursing homes and welding/fabrication shops. The enabling feature of this generator is a unique material discovered by Allan Jacobson, director of UH’s Texas Center for Superconductivity and Robert A. Welch Chair of Science in the department of chemistry. The generator is expected to reduce the capital cost of oxygen production by more than 50 percent and the operating cost by more than 60 percent compared with the closest commercial alternative, cryogenic distillation.

Blue Box Health Inc. received the third-place prize of $5,000 to help commercialize its home-health disease management device, which sends key readings on the heart function and condition of patients who are at home after being discharged from the hospital.

UH College of Technology professor Clifford Dasco is one of the collaborators on the project and Blue Box continues to work with UH to commercialize the device. Dasco also is director of the Abramson Center for the Future of Health and the John S. Dunn Sr. Research Chair in internal medicine at The Methodist Hospital.

A $2,000 prize was awarded to C-Voltaics, which was founded by Shay Curran, an associate professor of physics at UH. C-Voltaics has created several pioneering innovations that relate to the next generation of solar devices used to produce electricity. These devices are all plastic, as opposed to the current devices that use silicon or metal alloys, which take up space and can be costly.

The award recipients are selected based on the commercial potential of the innovation, the company’s business plan and the potential for job growth within the region.

Laura Tolley