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The University of Alabama

UA-Based Start-Up Wins $25K to Further Develop Green Pest Control Method

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Growers and consumers of apples stand to be among the beneficiaries of a University of Alabama start-up company’s $25,000 winnings in a state-wide business competition.

Sutterlin Technologies won the money for its third place finish in Alabama Launchpad, an annual competitive vetting process to evaluate high growth start-ups and provide seed funding in the form of cash prizes to the top three.

Led by Dr. Rusty Sutterlin and incubating within UA’s Alabama Innovation and Mentoring of Entrepreneurs, or AIME, Building, Sutterlin Technologies won for its business plan of using an environmentally friendly, patent-pending biodegradable technology to target the brown codling moth. The most is a pest to farmers, including commercial apple growers.

The technology, licensed from UA, works by disrupting the insects’ mating patterns through the use of insect pheromones – chemical sex attractants which the tiny creatures emit to entice and locate mates.  The company’s new biodegradable approach centers around the use of pectin, a complex carbohydrate naturally occurring in fruits, including apples, and some vegetables.

Pectin, Sutterlin said, is adept at binding with the pheromones and releasing them it as it degrades harmlessly in the fields. Laboratory test results show the technique is promising, and field trials are needed, Sutterlin says. The winnings will help the company develop the trials.

Sutterlin Technologies, whose team includes Chris Cater, a UA graduate now pursuing an MBA/JD at the University, Cory Blanchard, a UA undergraduate majoring in chemical engineering, and Ben Miller, a senior management major, has a board of advisers including representatives from both UA and the University of Missouri.

The technology licensed to Sutterlin’s company through UA’s Office for Technology Transfer was developed by Dr. Scott Spear, a research scientist in AIME, and his colleagues. 

For more on the company, see

Alabama Launchpad is a partnership between the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, the business community and seven public universities in the state. This was the competition’s fourth year. For more information, visit

SLP Diagnostics, affiliated with the University of Alabama in Huntsville, won first place in the competition, and Swift Biotechnology, affiliated with the University of South Alabama, won second place.

HydrogeNow, also affiliated with UA, was one of nine teams chosen from among the 45 who originally began the competition to make the Alabama Launchpad’s April 16 finals. The teams competed for $175,000 in funding.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.