The Online Magazine of The University of Texas System
2010 World’s Best Technology Showcase
In a world driven by technological advances, it’s interesting when inspiration still can be drawn from simple pleasures. That’s how it was recently for Karen Lozano, an engineering professor from The University of Texas - Pan American, who performs research on different kinds of materials and tests how they work. In her area of research, it’s a constant challenge to produce materials in sufficient quantities for testing. But on one fortuitous trip to the circus with her family, she had an idea on a novel way to inexpensively manufacture large quantities of materials at the forefront of modern science – nanofibers. These space-age strands can be used in applications to improve products as diverse as water filters, bandages, electronic parts and even diapers.
From that inspired moment, Lozano, fellow mechanical engineering professor Kamal Sarkar and a team of UT Pan American graduate and undergraduate students developed the technology behind the FibeRio Technology Corporation, a UT System, Texas Ignition Fund (TIF) supported concept and the first regional technology startup based upon a UTPA invention – and a silver medal winner at the WBTshowcase 2010 in March.
FibeRio was among more than 90 top technology innovators from around the globe competing in the nation’s premier event exhibiting the largest collection of undiscovered technologies from the world’s leading universities, labs and research institutions. The showcase provides the presenters the opportunity to market their technologies to more than 100 seasoned venture investors and Fortune 500 company licensing scouts representing a variety of industries looking to invest in new technologies. The WBTshowcase, held this year in Arlington and co-hosted by The University of Texas at Arlington and The University of Texas System, has over the years showcased some 470 technologies and emerging companies that have subsequently generated more than $450 million in capital or licensed their technologies.
“These team members have demonstrated extraordinary innovative ability and exemplify precisely the type of spirit we are trying to replicate across all quarters of the UT System,” Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa said. “We expect to continue to be on the cutting edge of technology, where we will work tirelessly to transfer these discoveries to the marketplace for the benefit of Texas, the nation and indeed, the entire world.”
With attendees ranging from intellectual property attorneys, startup companies and venture capital firms to university administrators and researchers, the annual event brings together market-ready innovative technologies and those who want to invest in them. This allows interaction between people from various “innovation” sectors that may have amazing inventions, new startups or new ideas that could have a major impact on society but which need a jumpstart to succeed.
From UT Arlington’s Zoomal-Tech Inc. and AeonClad Coatings, LLC, to UT Pan American’s FibeRio Technology Corporation, the UT System was well represented at the WBTshowcase. System attendees and institutions had an opportunity to learn about each other’s discoveries and ask one another more in-depth questions.
The UT System has become a national leader in terms of technology strength. In 2008, System institutions ranked second nationally in the number of startups created, third in licenses and options executed and fourth in U.S. patents issued according to the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM). Besides the three top-five rankings, the UT System was sixth in the number of applications filed for U.S. patents and 13th in the amount of income generated through licensing. It is no coincidence that UT institutions have achieved this success, because the commercialization of university discoveries and inventions into the marketplace through innovation, knowledge transfer, entrepreneurship, community engagement and the formation of startup companies is part of their mission statement.
The state of Texas consistently ranks in the top three nationally in the overall level of venture capital investment. According to the National Science Foundation, Texas ranked third among states receiving federal research and development grants in 2008 – behind California and New York. UT System institutions conduct the majority of university research activities in the state and in 2008, with $2.22 billion in research expenditures, it ranked second among university systems – behind only California.
The UT System announced the 2010 Chancellor’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Awards during a special program at the showcase. The award was established to promote a culture of entrepreneurship throughout the System by recognizing researchers who exemplify ingenuity, creativity and innovation in translating research into useful products and services. Awards acknowledge commercialized research that has had a profound impact on the citizens of Texas and on all of society.
The Awards Program paid tribute to entrepreneurs in two categories: technologies developed at a single institution and technologies developed by cross-institutional collaborative teams. The 2010 winner for a single institution was Borje Andersson, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, who won the award as the lead inventor of the intravenous formulation of Busulfan, which has changed the standard of care for stem cell transplantation and greatly improved patient care. The collaborative team winners were Tom Milner, UT Austin and Marc Feldman, UT Health Science Center San Antonio, who developed a novel approach to cardiovascular imaging to assist cardiologists in better treatment of patients suffering from coronary artery disease. The approach, called optical coherence tomography, or OCT, can identify diseased regions of coronary arteries that can be targeted for therapy using treatments such as stents.
— Spencer Miller-Payne
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