Innovators honored for contributions to research, entrepreneurship

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innovation streamThe Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship highlighted student, faculty and staff innovators for their contributions to research, innovation and entrepreneurship during the third annual UAB Innovation Breakfast in the Collat School of Business Oct. 29.

The UAB Innovation Award winners represent UAB departments and schools, startup businesses and community partners.

Student Innovator of the Year

Venu Kunche, College of Arts and Sciences

Kunche, a computer science major minoring in entrepreneurship, is motivated to create new and different products through being innovative and stepping out of his comfort zone, nominators say. He isn’t afraid to change directions or pursue different paths to explore his potential. Kunche, who created a nutrition bar based on the moringa plant, which is native to India, won the 2017 Blazer Innovation Challenge and incorporated his company, Kore, after participating in the inaugural UAB Commercialization Accelerator cohort.

Staff Innovator of the Year

Daniel Jones, applications architect in Information Technology

Jones partners with people and units across UAB to move the entire Birmingham community forward, nominators say. He embodies the idea of being an agent of change and an innovator that empowers greatness in others. Among many other high-impact projects, Jones has recently led the production of the UAB mobile app, including the “Ask Blaze” interactive interface.

Faculty Innovator of the Year

Eugenia Kharlampieva, Ph.D., Department of Chemistry

Kharlampieva has a strong commitment to science and research, nominators say; she has worked hand-in-hand with offices across campus to explore potential benefits from her research to the public. Her research lab focuses on the design and synthesis of polymeric materials for therapeutic applications, including delivery and regenerative medicine.

Student Startup of the Year


Led by UAB computer science doctoral student Weida Tan, Fledging provides software/hardware solid-state drive replacement solutions for MacBook users. Fledging’s adaptors allow users to upgrade storage capabilities on Apple computers without requiring Apple-specific solid-state drives. Read more at UAB News.

Faculty Startup of the Year

TriAltus Bioscience

TriAltus Bioscience holds the exclusive, worldwide license to the CL-7 protein purification technology platform and aims to transform the research proteins market, making it simpler and more affordable to obtain needed materials so scientists can spend more time conducting novel research. TriAltus CEO Bob Shufflebarger and UAB inventor Dmitry Vassylyev, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics in the School of Medicine, were honored at the awards ceremony.

Interdisciplinary Initiative

Solution Studios™

Solution Studios™ accelerates the translation of clinical innovation by training clinicians and STEM students to collaborate and think creatively around solutions to clinical problems through implementing structured design-thinking into the training of health professionals at UAB. Nancy Wingo, Ph.D., Joel Berry, Ph.D., and Kristen Noles, DNP, received the newly introduced award for their efforts in championing the program.  

Business Community Supporter of the Year

Birmingham Business Alliance

The Birmingham Business Alliance is the lead economic development organization for the Birmingham seven-county region, including Bibb, Blount, Chilton, Jefferson, St. Clair, Shelby and Walker counties. BBA Vice President of Innovation and Technology Jon Nugent was recognized on behalf of the organization for his ongoing support of UAB programs and startups.