Fund Accelerates Product Commercialization

Monica Abeita

Monica Abeita, Regional Development Corp. for NNM Connect

A $100,000 award from the Venture Acceleration Fund in 2011 helped Santa Fe startup Vista Therapeutics speed up the commercial introduction of the NanoBioSensor, which employs nanowires to measure in real time the multiple blood proteins and other biomarkers the body produces in response to trauma or disease. Biomarker measurement is especially critical for emergency room doctors, who have little time to gauge the severity of a patient’s condition and choose a proper intervention. Benefits continue during recovery, when ongoing monitoring is essential.

As the first commercially available device capable of such on-the-spot analysis, the NanoBioSensor is expected to improve the lives of people and also reduce the suffering of research animals: Pharmaceutical scientists and other biomedical researchers often must sacrifice many animals to obtain sufficient blood or tissue samples for analysis of biomarker changes over time. The sensitivity and rapidity of Vista’s sensor will allow many biomarkers to be monitored with a simple nick of the research animal’s tail or ear.

Helping Inventions Get to Market

Vista used the VAF funding to complete research and development and to adapt its device for a potential first customer, according to chief scientific officer Spencer Farr. Vista recently obtained oral confirmation that a multibillion-dollar wound-care company wants to incorporateVista’s technology into its patient monitoring products. “We would not have lasted through the developmental valley of death without VAF support,” Farr said.

Helping tech-based products get to market quickly is a big part of why Los Alamos National Security, LLC, manager of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), created the fund in 2006. Through Northern New Mexico Connect, LANS invests $1 million each year in economic development, including the VAF initiative. The fund specifically helps innovative companies with business development activities such as proof of concept, prototyping and securing initial customers or additional funding.

Fund managers give preference to companies in the Northern New Mexico counties of Los Alamos, Santa Fe, Sandoval, Rio Arriba, Taos, San Miguel and Mora and to projects associated with LANL technology or expertise, but any company in any part of the state can apply for help getting a tech-based product — including computer software or an Internet application — to market.

Another 2011 VAF award recipient was Los Alamos startup company Manhattan Isotope Technology, which developed, tested and validated a radio analytical lab for manufacturing strontium-82 for use in heart imaging. Before the formation of MIT, the isotope was only manufactured byLos Alamos and Brookhaven national laboratories, which greatly limited the supply.

February Deadline Coming Up

VAF applications will be accepted throughout 2012, but will be reviewed after three deadlines. The first deadline for consideration is Feb. 24. The second and third deadlines are May 25 and Aug. 25. One award of up to $100,000 is expected to be made for each deadline.

To find out more about the LANS Venture Acceleration Fund or to submit a VAF Application in 2012, visit or contact Belinda Snyder of the Los Alamos Technology Transfer Division at


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