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University Of Wyoming Microbial Ecology Collaborative Startup Launchpad Announces Its 2021 Winners

Microbial Ecology Collaborative Startup Launchpad

The 2021 Microbial Ecology Collaborative Startup Launchpad (MECSL) announced FrostyFlake and LifeGlass as their two winners and awarded the start-ups a share of a $25,000 seed fund.

MECSL is a pitch challenge focusing on innovation in Wyoming-based startups for microbial ecology, environmental sustainability, natural resource management, or data science fields.

FrostyFlake is a weather-monitoring service allowing snowplow operators and other customers access to real-time weather conditions. CEO Marcus Curley said that his technology fills in the gap for those who rely on real-time weather notices.

"We don't do forecasts at all, that is the big differentiator. What we do essentially, is we look out the window across these 20,000 locations and tell you what the weather is right now," Curley added.

FrostyFlake went to market November 1 last year, and already has nearly 20,000 locations that can be monitored across the United States. FrostyFlake has also won two other start-up competitions prior to MECSL.

The second winner of the competition, LifeGlass, is providing a solution to the challenge of keeping life-saving pharmaceuticals cold and viable, also known as the cold chain. It's become even more visible during the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines that must be kept below a certain temperature to remain usable.

University of Wyoming (UW) Assistant Professor of molecular biology Thomas Boothby and his graduate student Ryan Bettcher are the two founders of LifeGlass. According to them, the problem with the cold chain is that it is prone to failure and very hard to use.

To solve this, LifeGlass takes biological material made by organisms that can survive extreme drying and uses it to stabilize pharmaceuticals so they don't need to be refrigerated. They are then able to handle temperatures over 100 degrees Celsius (212 Fahrenheit).

LifeGlass envisions incorporating their technology into the development of drugs targeted to remote parts of the world, such as Subsaharan Africa where it is difficult to maintain infrastructure to keep pharmaceuticals cold. This would allow them to get those life-saving medicines to the people that live there without the need for expensive refrigerators or freezers.

Boothby and Bettcher said they are both excited by the prospect that their technology, which grew out of research they were conducting at UW, could potentially save millions of lives a year.

This story is supported by a grant through Wyoming EPSCoR and the National Science Foundation.

Adlynn is from a big city Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia currently pursuing her M.A in Communication at the University of Wyoming. The love she has for her major, she tries to dip her toes in the various field communication has to offer. She has had experiences in public relations, advertising, marketing, print media, and now she is trying broadcast with Wyoming Public Media.
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