Tuesday, July 15, 2008

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Second Round of Funds Awarded to Encourage Commercialization

AUSTIN – Will a new synthetic skin that may improve the sense of touch in prosthetic limbs prove to have a significant impact on the mobility and independence of disabled children and adults?

Or could a new novel inhibitor fill a critical need for immunosuppressive treatments that prevent organ or tissue transplant rejections?

The two technologies were among five developed at UT System institutions that were awarded Texas Ignition Fund (TIF) grants totaling $250,000 to help get the advancements out of the laboratory and into commercial use.

The prosthetic skin and novel inhibitor, as well as several other winning entries awarded $50,000 grants, are described in detail online here.

The grants come from a $2 million fund approved by the UT System Board of Regents late last year to speed commercialization of products created at UT System institutions. The first round of TIF funds were awarded in April.

“The quality of this second round of TIF grants indicates the deep well of innovative ideas on UT System campuses,” UT System Chancellor ad interim Dr. Kenneth I. Shine said. “We are very pleased with the continuing interest and creative thinking the recipients of the grants clearly demonstrate and we have high hopes that their work will lead to the development of new commercial opportunities and jobs for Texans.”

The TIF fund was authorized after an internal analysis determined that potential products developed at UT institutions often require additional effort and capital to attract investors to commercialize the inventions. Funds could be used for personnel, equipment, supplies, instrument use fees, business plans and, in some limited circumstances, faculty support and patent costs.

“While we are pleased that UT System technology licensing activities have increased more than 92 percent in the last five years, we intend to further accelerate technology commercialization and economic development with programs such as the TIF,” UT System Associate Vice Chancellor for Technology Transfer Arjun Sanga said. “The second round of funding has produced more high-quality technology commercialization proposals that require a small amount of proof-of-concept work in order to transition from university laboratories to commercial development. TIF has already ignited successful commercialization projects on several System campuses and further stimulated the culture of entrepreneurship and innovation across the System.”

The TIF program was created by the UT System’s Office of Research and Technology Transfer, whose charge is to develop and implement strategies to expand and enhance research activities at UT System institutions. With a total research expenditure of $1.9 billion in Fiscal Year 2006 by the UT System, these research activities resulted in 14 start-up companies (66 in the last five years), 117 U.S. patents (553 in the last five years), and 655 invention disclosures (2,770 in the last five years), ultimately creating new jobs, products and services.

About The University of Texas System

The University of Texas System is one of the nation’s largest higher education systems, with nine academic campuses and six health institutions. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $10.7 billion (FY 2008) including $2.3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. Student enrollment exceeded 194,000 in the 2007 academic year. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state's undergraduate degrees and educates nearly three-fourths of the state's health care professionals annually. With more than 81,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.

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