This year, the University of Arizona reported once again that it met, and by many measures surpassed, performance expectations for its key annual measures in technology commercialization.
The results demonstrate how the UA’s Tech Launch Arizona is continuing to deliver on its mission: To significantly enhance the impact of UA research, intellectual property and technological innovation by bringing the university’s inventions to the public for economic and social benefit.
TLA launched in fiscal 2013, with fiscal 2014 marking its first year as a fully staffed and operating UA unit.
Having now passed a five-year reporting milestone, Tech Launch has demonstrated increases across the board over its lifetime. In fiscal 2018, TLA recorded 275 invention disclosures from faculty, researchers and staff campus-wide, 112 executed licenses and options, and 16 startups — all record-breaking numbers for the UA.
“Licensing inventions to existing companies represents the majority of our work and is often the most effective way to create impact from research,” says Doug Hockstad, TLA’s assistant vice president, “but startups create an air of excitement, not only bringing forth solutions to improve lives, but also creating jobs and impacting our communities directly.”
Of the 16 startups the UA launched in fiscal 2018, three came from the College of Science.
FreeFall Aerospace was founded to commercialize new technologies for spacecraft communications and observational capabilities. Christopher Walker, professor of astronomy in the department of astronomy and Steward Observatory, was the lead inventor of these cutting-edge technologies.
In December 2018, the company achieved a great milestone, securing its first substantial investment from local investment firm UA Venture Capital.
From the department of chemistry and biochemistry, MCR Therapeutics was founded to develop therapeutics for skin cancer and the treatment of pigmentary disorders based on their research. The inventors — Drs. Minying Cai and Victor J. Hruby — developed targeted peptides through their research into drug design and bioactivity expression relating to hormone activity in the brain and periphery.
This was not Hruby and Cai’s first foray into the commercial world by any means; the two have collaborated on startups in the past and maintain a strong commitment to leveraging commercial pathways to get their research out for the public good.
Also from the department of chemistry and biochemistry, Intuitive Measurement Systems was founded to develop a portable device to automate and standardize the collection of respiratory rates in laboratory animals.