UM Start-Ups

The formation of new companies is another means by which the OTT attempts to transfer the university’s intellectual property for the benefit of the public. Start-up companies are considered an alternate path for commercialization of embryonic technologies, which often require significant private capital investment for development into a commercial product. Read on to learn more about the University of Montana’s start-up companies, as well as their commercialization efforts.

Sunburst Sensors Logo

Sunburst Sensors is a chemical sensor company founded to commercialize University of Montana intellectual property. With the growing interest in climate research, innovative tools are needed to better understand the chemistry of the planet’s water systems. Through the development of autonomous oceanic and freshwater chemical sensors, Sunburst is advancing the field of oceanic research. Sunburst’s SAMI2 provides CO2 and pH measurements in a durable and user-friendly package that supports up to three additional sensors for ship based measurements.

Rivertop logo

Rivertop Renewables™ is a renewable chemical company founded to commercialize University of Montana intellectual property. Dangerous pollutants such as toxic petrochemicals, persistent polymers, and harmful phosphates are negatively impacting the planet, and it’s population. Rivertop is addressing this problem by commercializing green chemical substitutes based upon abundantly available renewable feedstocks. Rivertop’s chemicals will serve as effective detergent builders and corrosion inhibitors, as well as building blocks for high-performance polymers.


Sinapis Pharma is a discovery stage biotechnology company founded to commercialize University of Montana intellectual property. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for over 143,579 deaths each year. Sinapis is aiming to minimize this deadly impact by commercializing a treatment regimen that has shown robust neuronal protection (in an animal model) when administered up to 12 hours after injury. Phase 1 clinical trials are scheduled for early 2010.

Rio Pharmeceuticals Logo

RIO Pharmaceuticals is an early stage biotech company founded in 2007 to commercialize molecules that biomark specific target proteins in the central nervous system. These patented PET imaging tracers have the potential to help understand, diagnose, and follow new therapies for neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases as well as neuropsychiatric conditions such as depression.