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UI Research Park Companies Receive Prometheus Awards

Three companies located on the University of Iowa Research Park received prestigious Prometheus Awards from Technology Association of Iowa (TAI), in conjunction with LWBJ Financial.

The awards, presented Tuesday, April 6, at a ceremony at the Meadows Convention Center in Altoona, recognize outstanding accomplishments of high-tech businesses and individuals across the state.

J&J Solutions and KemPharm received Outstanding Startup Company of the Year awards. This award honors businesses fewer than five years old, with less than $1 million in annual revenue. Companies were judged on both their business concept and products or services.

Cofounded by John Slump and Jared Garfield, J & J Solutions is an emerging medical device company providing innovative technologies that optimize the safe handling of hazardous medications. The company is committed to creating affordable solutions that ensure safety and improve productivity, enabling health care providers to deliver the highest quality care for their patients. Slump and Garfield started the company while students at the Tippie College of Business as part of the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center program.

The Life Sciences Company of the Year award was given to Exemplar Genetics. This award recognizes a company's ideas, products or services, growth, and new market generation.

Exemplar's mission is improving the understanding of life-threatening diseases and facilitating the discovery of therapies. The company, headed by President John Swart, capitalizes on the similarity of pigs' and humans' immune systems and inflammatory responses, to deliver, in a pig, a reliable model of human disease. It is the only firm to own, produce, and market a pig that accurately replicates the human cystic fibrosis gene. Its clients include large research facilities, universities and clinics, and pharmaceutical companies. Exemplar Genetics, based in Sioux Center, was launched in 2008 based upon the innovative science and core technology from the laboratory of Michael Welsh, a UI Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.

Founded in 2006 by Travis and Christal Mickle, KemPharm Inc. is focused on the discovery and development of new, safer therapies to treat serious medical conditions through its proprietary and broadly applicable ligand activated therapy (LAT) prodrug technology. A prodrug is a compound that is inactive but then converted by the body to an active drug. KemPharm utilizes its LAT prodrug technology to shorten development timelines and generate improved versions of FDA-approved drugs. KemPharm is developing candidates for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), pain, other central nervous system disorders, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

"We are proud to be recognized by the Technology Association of Iowa for our success in relatively unchartered waters for this region. Our goal is to continue to execute on our plan and deliver innovative drugs that address shortfalls in existing therapeutic areas," said founder, Travis Mickle, Ph.D. "We are excited to help grow a local biopharmaceutical environment that will encourage other entrepreneurs to start up their business in the state of Iowa and create exciting investment opportunities for regional investors."

Jordan Cohen, UI Vice President for Research, said, "This recognition of these outstanding companies is also a tribute to the entrepreneurial spirit associated with the University and our research park and are excellent examples of how the University is working to fulfill its strong commitment to economic development in Iowa."

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