Kennesaw State University Develops First Incubator Company

Staff Report From Metro Atlanta CEO

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

New Echota Biotechnology, Kennesaw State University’s first incubator company, is the brainchild of Kennesaw State University faculty and is supported by the KSU Research and Service Foundation Inc.. It is developing new technology that could prove helpful in the fight against cancer and other diseases.

Kennesaw State’s Jonathan McMurry, associate vice president for research, is a co-founder of New Echota Biotechnology, which has filed for several patents related to a research project to develop novel cell-penetrating peptides capable of carrying other molecular ‘cargos’ into living cells.

“New Echota may be the first company, but we’re certainly not the last,” said McMurry. “The coming years will increasingly see KSU-developed technologies contribute to economic development and the betterment of humanity.”

McMurry’s research team, composed of KSU faculty and students, developed CPPs that could lead to new medical treatments ranging from improving cosmetic procedures to helping fight cancer.

A professor of biochemistry and the former associate dean for research in the College of Science and Mathematics, McMurry is an accomplished and federally funded researcher, with grants from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health. He also mentors colleagues in the task of applying for grants. As the AVP for Research, McMurry uses his experience to grow KSU's research community, as well as its intellectual property portfolio.

“Universities are increasingly serving as platforms for startups,” said McMurry. “Although many people may not think of Kennesaw State as a ‘research university,’ there is a surprisingly vibrant and growing research culture here.”

Kennesaw State is ranked as a doctoral research institution with moderate research activity — designated “R3” — in The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning 2015 update. The University was previously classified among larger Master’s Colleges and Universities or “M1” institutions.

McMurry credited KSURSF with supporting the initial steps in forming the company and helping to secure patents. KSURSF, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit corporation, serves Kennesaw State as a University System of Georgia-approved cooperative organization. McMurry said he hopes other Kennesaw State faculty and students will follow his company’s lead and work with KSURSF to develop their intellectual properties and take steps to commercialize them.

New Echota receives grant funding from the NIH Small Business Innovation Research program. The Georgia Research Alliance has also supported development of the business through their GRA Ventures Fund.

The late John Salerno, who was the Neel Distinguished Chair of Biotechnology at Kennesaw State prior to his death this past December, was a co-founder of New Echota.