Fourth Round of Commercialization Grants Awarded by UT System

AUSTIN – Could a technology that induces hypothermia for patients with diminished blood flow to the brain save thousands of people who experience stroke, cardiac arrest and traumatic brain injury?

Or could a novel micro-reactor that converts natural gas to gasoline, diesel and jet fuel finally produce clean, sulfur-free fuel at low costs?

These two technologies were among nine developed at University of Texas System institutions that were awarded Texas Ignition Fund (TIF) grants totaling nearly $453,000 to help get the advancements out of the laboratory and into the commercial marketplace. The winning entries, each awarded $48,000 - $55,000 grants, are described in detail online here.

The grants come from a $2 million fund approved by the UT System Board of Regents in 2007 to speed commercialization of products created at UT System institutions. Through four rounds of TIF awards the Office of Research and Technology Transfer (RTT) and the Ignition Fund Advisory Board (IFAB) have approved $1.6 million for 29 proposals from 11 UT System institutions. After just one year of operation, TIF awardees report five new startups formed, one of which has received a Texas Emerging Technology Fund (ETF) commercialization grant. Two more startups are in the process of being formed.

"The TIF continues to generate quality proposals in a broad range of disciplines from UT System health and academic institutions all over Texas,” Assistant Vice Chancellor for Commercial Development Cathy Swain said. “Start-up companies already derived from this program so early in its history are merely a preview of potential commercial opportunities. This fall we will be actively pursuing funding to perpetuate this important program.”

The TIF fund was authorized to address the challenge that research discoveries and inventions at UT institutions often require additional funding to develop product applications that can attract investor capital to achieve their commercial potential. TIF funds are used primarily for personnel, equipment, supplies, instrument use fees, market analyses and business plans.

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 and commercialization activities at UT System institutions. With a total research expenditure of $2.2 billion in Fiscal Year 2008 by the UT System, research and product development activities resulted in 25 start-up companies (83 in the last five years), 99 U.S. patents (572 in the last five years), and 716 invention disclosures (3,207 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 $11.5 billion (FY 2009) including $2.5 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. Student enrollment exceeded 195,000 in the 2008 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 healthcare professionals annually. With more than 84,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.