UA Increasing Tech Commercialization
Since 2013, the University of Arizona has increased its commercialized tech derived from UA research through Tech Launch Arizona (TLA).
Over the past year, TLA has issued 35 patents, formed 12 startup licensee companies, and disclosed 213 inventions, up from their numbers during the previous year.
Tech Launch Arizona was created by the University of Arizona by merging tech transfer, tech parks, and the corporate/businesses relations in 2013. A fourth branch was also created — new venture development.
“Our purpose is to help companies in all phases of technology and innovation,” Bruce Wright, associate vice president for Tech Parks Arizona, said. “Tech Launch Arizona is an evolving process.”
Researchers who create social and economic impact with their inventions are having their technologies commercialized through TLA.
“Tech transfer is part of every major research university,” TLA director of the Office of Technology Doug Hockstad said. “Tech transfer at UA over the past decade has been underperforming, and the best way to say that is probably just there was a lack of focus on it.”
The university brought in Dave Allen as part of its decision to focus on commercialization efforts and create Tech Launch Arizona.
The Arizona Center for Innovation (AzCI) is one of the components of the UA Tech Park. AzCI recently announced seven new cohorts to join their 2015 programs, two of which are student-led companies from UA.
One of their success stories is GlycoSurf, a speciality chemicals company founded in 2013 by three UA researchers. The company is based on patented technology developed at UA, and received development funding from Tech Launch Arizona.
“After the IP was filed, TLA helped my two co-founders with some seed funding to study the feasibility of starting a company,” CEO GlycoSurf Chett Boxley said. “From there, TLA facilitated some market research, helped with mentoring, and provided much needed funds for a proof-of-concept to try to produce the rhamnolipids in larger quantities.”
AzCI and Tech Parks Arizona also has a series of programs to help entrepreneurs, including Mentored Launch, Innovative Minds, and Global Advantage. Mentored Launch gives experienced entrepreneurs the opportunity to be mentors.
“We have a whole series of programs,” Wright said. Global Advantage recruits and attracts small businesses to Tucson, and is located in the tech park which offers collaboration and joint venture.
TLA has also expanded its network of volunteer domain experts from 750 to 1,300 individuals, allowing entrepreneurs to gain expert insight for their inventions. The network is another no cost resource.
“We have a database that we call the commercialization network of about 1,300 people that have raised their hand and have said they’re interested in helping in small ways like answering questions,” Hockstad said.
TLA will release its 2015 annual report and Roadmap update with evolving programs and goals for the coming year in August.
“We laid out a roadmap two years ago on how we were gonna grow and what we were gonna do to grow and we are following that roadmap,” Hockstad said. “We’re adjusting it where we need to.”
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Photos courtesy of Tech Launch Arizona