Dr. Heikenfeld Honored with 2017 Ohio Technology Commercialization Award

By:      Ashley Duvelius
Date:   November 14, 2017

Dr. Jason Heikenfeld, UC CEAS Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, received the Ohio Faculty Council’s second annual Technology Commercialization Award for his sweat bio-sensing technology. The technology has wide market applicability in many aspects of medicine, industry, and sport.

Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Carey presents Dr. Heikenfeld with his OFC Technology Commercialization Award.

Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Carey presents Dr. Heikenfeld with his OFC Technology Commercialization Award.

On Monday, November 13, 2017 at the Technology Commercialization Awards in Columbus, OH, Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor John Carey presented Dr. Jason Heikenfeld of UC CEAS with the second annual Technology Commercialization Award from the Ohio Faculty Council. Heikenfeld, PhD and University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, is being honored for his ingenious technology for non-invasive sensing of analytes (sweat bio-sensing technology).

In 2016, the OFC launched a Technology Commercialization Award that is presented annually to recognize a faculty member in the state university system in Ohio for exceptional research discoveries and the role they have played in supporting the translation of those discoveries into marketable products and/or services.   

Heikenfeld’s sweat bio-sensing technology has wide market applicability ranging from stress and wellness, to dehydration detection, to disease detection. The technology has gone through a rigorous validation process which has confirmed the efficacy of the technology, and is in the advanced stages of commercialization. Heikenfeld has been able to leverage the technology and dozens of associated patents into the creation of a start-up company, Eccrine Systems.  This start-up company has attracted an experienced executive team, and with Heikenfeld’s active involvement has grown steadily, creating dozens of new Ohio jobs at Eccrine Systems. It has received funding from key follow-on and secondary funding sources, including equity investment, SBIR, contract research and loans, and has been recognized by Bloomberg as one of 2017’s “50 Most Promising Startups” in the country.

Eccrine Systems assembling the wearable sweat sensor. Photo/Eccrine Systems, Inc.

Eccrine Systems assembling the wearable sweat sensor. Photo/Eccrine Systems, Inc.

The technology has the potential to have wide ranging impact. Air Force Research Labs at Wright Patterson Air Force Base (AFRL) is a major early customer, and for this technology was an early stage collaborator and co-inventor with Heikenfeld. Eccrine Systems recently won a nearly $4 million contract from AFRL, tasking the startup—in part collaboration with UC—with developing a next generation, non-invasive sensing system for the continuous monitoring of specific molecular biomarkers in human sweat.

The US Air Force plans to use Heikenfeld’s wearable technology to monitor ground troops’ and pilots’ well-being. Joshua Hagen, a civilian chemist and engineer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, explains, “Overexertion is a big thing in the military. Our men and women train very hard in some harsh environments. Hydration and heat stresses are huge for us right now. This analysis could mean preventing dehydration among infantry, an area of intense focus for all service branches.”

In addition to this contract, Heikenfeld and Eccrine are close to producing advanced wearables that act as mini-laboratories on your arm and other skin locations. As featured by the Washington Post in Thomas Heath’s “Your sweat could tell you when to make a baby—and more,” Robert Beech, co-founder and CEO of Eccrine, described, “The goal is not to have to stick needles and catheters into people. In the context of daily life, work, sleep, play, the goal is to have a window into the current physiological status of the wearer… What blood results are for invasive medicine using needles, sweat has to be for noninvasive to get and measure cholesterol, cortisol, ovulation monitoring, fertility, and reproductive health. It could be used to determine electrolyte loss, which can be used for cardiac patients.”

Dr. Jason Heikenfeld. Photo/UC Creative Services.

Dr. Jason Heikenfeld. Photo/UC Creative Services.

Heikenfeld’s innovative life-sciences research was recently spotlighted in the prestigious research journal, Nature. Neil Savage’s feature, “Ohio’s Bio Boom,” states Heikenfeld, Eccrine Systems, and UC are key leaders in Ohio’s flourishing bioscience sector. Nature made special mention of UC’s successful Technology Accelerator for Commercialization (UCTAC) in the article, which is “a one-stop resource for transitioning scientific breakthroughs into market opportunities, maximizing the societal impact and economic return on UC innovation.”

Heikenfeld confirms, “A great thing about biotech in Ohio—is that you’re able to find really great people… It’s a great place to turn research into a company. It’s the universities, it’s the venture-capital community, it’s urban revitalization, it’s the regional strategy—it’s everything you need. We’re changing perceptions, and the proof is in the success.”

Heikenfeld’s work is an outstanding example of how faculty across Ohio are working to create a collaborative and resourceful statewide entrepreneurial ecosystem that allows high-potential companies to grow and prosper.  

 

About the Eccrine Systems
Eccrine Systems, Inc. is a privately held company dedicated to improving health, safety, and productivity through the innovation and development of advanced sweat sensor technologies. The Cincinnati-based company was founded in 2013 to commercialize technology and intellectual property that was exclusively licensed from the University of Cincinnati, and is funded with the support of CincyTech and an expanding network of local, regional and national investment sources. For more information, please visit: https://www.eccrinesystems.com/