Arizona Biosciences News

New programs encourage faculty to aim for marketplace

Summary:

Though they take different approaches, new programs underway at Arizona State University and the University of Arizona are aiming at the same target: to encourage faculty to take their discoveries from lab to marketplace.

Full Story:

Though they take different approaches, two new programs underway at Arizona State University and the University of Arizona are aiming at the same target: to encourage faculty to take their discoveries from lab to marketplace.

The inaugural UA Technology Innovation Awards were launched last week, honoring two former faculty members for successfully turning their research into thriving business ventures. In Tempe, the first monetary award of the ASU Innovation Fund was granted to support a new birth-control device.

At the UA awards ceremony, Drs. Tom Grogan and Hsinchu Chen received the inaugural trophies and $10,000 each for the examples they set of turning profits on their research. Chen was commended for chairing Knowledge Computing Corp, the spinoff from the COPLINK data system, which he created while head of UA's Artificial Intelligence lab. Chen's criminal database program is used by police departments nationwide.

Grogan, who invented an automatic slide-staining device, won the other inaugural Technology Innovation Award for launching Ventana Medical Systems Inc. in Oro Valley in 1985, a move that defied an old state law prohibiting university professors from taking stake in private companies.

"It's a wonderful addition of enthusiasm," Grogan told the Arizona Daily Star of the annual award. "It's saying one of our cultural values is that our academic ideas have influence beyond the walls of the university, and it's encouraging that."

At the ceremony, Richard Powell, UA vice president for research and graduate studies, emphasized that the award is intended to raise awareness among faculty of the importance of taking research out of their labs and into the greater community.

"It's not enough to just discover things; we have to do something with those discoveries," Powell said in the Star. ASU is taking a different approach by creating a slush fund to dole out to faculty research teams for their promising discoveries. Dr. Kelly Roy and bioengineer Brent Vernon were the first beneficiaries of the ASU Innovation Fund for their permanent, removable birth control device, according to the Business Journal. The $42,000 grant, drawn from the $300,000 pool created by ASU and ASU Research Park, will help ASU alumnus Roy and assistant professor Vernon test and promote their polymer-based contraceptive technology, expediting it to market.


For more information:

"2 UA professors get cash awards," Arizona Daily Star, 09/16/2004

"UA faculty urged to turn discoveries into dollars," Tucson Citizen, 09/16/2004

"Professors honored for technology innovations," Arizona Daily Wildcat, 09/16/2004

"Birth control researchers first to get money from new ASU fund," Business Journal, 09/13/2004