The Academic Entrepreneur of the Year Award recognizes a faculty member who has started a company based on UGA research.
Yajun Yan, an associate professor in the College of Engineering, leads UGA’s research in microbial production of biofuels and high-value chemicals. His work has led to six issued U.S. patents and several pending patent applications.
In 2014, he and his colleague, Yuheng Lin, co-founded BiotecEra Inc., which is developing and commercializing innovative microbial technologies to achieve sustainable, economically viable and eco-friendly production of industrially valuable pharmaceuticals and commodity chemicals. Located in the UGA Innovation Gateway incubator, BiotecEra Inc. has secured state funding through the Georgia Research Alliance, federal funding through the Small Business Innovation Research program and private investment from an angel investor.
His research also formed the basis for a second startup, HGG Research LLC, which is developing methods to synthesize various natural compounds in probiotic strains.
Since joining the UGA faculty in 2010, he has been an advocate for entrepreneurism among faculty colleagues while leading the Biosynthetic Engineering and Biocatalysis Laboratory.