An entity named Wichita State Innovation Alliance Investment Corp. has taken a stake in a Denver-based startup manufacturer of aircraft seats.
The agreement allows Molon Labe Designs to tap into the National Institute for Aviation Research’s design and testing services “at a fraction of the usual cost,” said a Wichita State University news release on Thursday.
Molon Labe is developing a new seat for passenger jets called the Side-Slip Seat that it claims will provide greater comfort for travelers as well as reduce fuel costs and turnaround times for airlines.
The arrangement with WSU Investments and NIAR was made through WSU Ventures, the university’s technology transfer organization.
“We wanted the lightest strong seat we could achieve,” Molon Labe CEO Hank Scott said in the WSU release. “And we’re achieving that because of NIAR’s capabilities.
“We’re also going to be well-ahead of our competition when it comes to responding to customers because of NIAR’s work. Their expertise has extended the commercial viability of our product, and the long-term payoff is going to be phenomenal.”
WSU officials would not quantify the size or amount of stake WSU Investments took in Molon Labe, nor the savings of design and testing fees at NIAR.
“We took a very small equity position,” said Tracee Friess, spokeswoman for WSU research and technology transfer.
WSU said Wichita State Innovation Alliance Investment Corp. was formed in 2014 as part of its initiative to support area economic development, including its innovation campus. Its purpose is to aid entrepreneurs, students and faculty interested in commercializing ideas by negotiating an equity position in their startups in exchange for university resources and support, WSU said in an e-mailed statement.
WSU said the investment corporation, not the university, holds the equity.