UArizona reports record number of inventions

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Chris Richards/University of Arizona

Tech Launch Arizona, the University of Arizona's commercialization arm, recorded 303 novel inventions between July 1, 2021, and June 30 – the most invention disclosures registered for a single year in the university's history – up from 274 in the previous year.

TLA, which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary, also filed 389 patents for new inventions and received 87 issued patents for technologies that had been filed in previous years. The office executed 116 licenses and options for UArizona technologies and added 10 more startups, bringing the total number of companies formed since 2013 to commercialize UArizona inventions to 128. These companies bring UArizona research-based inventions to the world for the public good and create jobs and economic impact for Arizona.

"Tech Launch Arizona's 10 years is an outstanding milestone for us to take stock and check our progress. I am so gratified to see our commercialization enterprise performing so successfully and delivering on our land-grant mission of providing real, measurable value back to our community and the state," said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins.

 In May, TLA released the results of its recent economic impact report, which indicated that startups and business generated through the office supported over 2,500 jobs and $561 million in labor income between fiscal years 2017 and 2021. TLA has produced over $1.6 billion in economic activity since 2016. Since the formation of TLA a decade ago, the number of new UArizona startups has nearly tripled, from 73 to over 200. Additionally, in the past eight years, startups have raised more than $600 million in grant and equity funding, an indicator that startups are attractive to outside investors who trust they are well-positioned for successful futures.

"Following on the recent release of our latest impact numbers demonstrating the effect we've had in the community, we're excited to have had such a strong year," said TLA Associate Vice President Doug Hockstad. "It shows that we're continuing to increase the mindset of inventors on campus. All of this inventive activity keeps the pipeline strong so we'll be able to continue to grow our impact in the coming years."

Inventions represent the raw material for that pipeline, and each invention is refined, protected, marketed and licensed before it is available to consumers.

"The ability to connect meaningfully with communities and create a brighter future for all is integral to our land-grant mission," said Elizabeth "Betsy" Cantwell, senior vice president for research and innovation. "As we see with this year's University of Arizona-based inventions and startups, commercialization serves as a powerful bridge between university research and innovation and real-world impact in our state and our communities."

In fiscal year 2022, UArizona launched the following software, engineering and health sciences startups:

  • BG Networks Inc., developing a cybersecurity framework for adaptive risk assessment and automated mitigation. The company was founded on technology invented by professor Jerzy Rozenblit and professor emeritus Roman Lysecky of the College of Engineering.
  • Clade Therapeutics Inc., advancing a platform that uses pluripotent stem cells as a basis to develop off-the-shelf cell transplantation therapies. Arizona Cancer Center professor Deepta Bhattacharya and College of Medicine – Tucson research specialist Hannah Pizzato invented the platform. Both are also members of the BIO5 Institute.
  • MetFora LLC, leveraging metabolite biomarkers to detect chronic lung disease, heart disorders and cancers in their early stages. The startup is based on the work of associate professors Ruslan Rafikov and Olga Rafikova of the College of Medicine – Tucson.
  • FAKnostics LLC, developing diagnostics and therapeutics around the major cancer protein focal adhesion kinase. Inventors included Dr. William Cance and assistant professor Tim Marlowe of the Arizona Cancer Center and the College of Medicine – Phoenix, and research scientist Warren Weiner of the College of Medicine – Tucson.
  • Fringe Metrology LLC, developing software for high-precision fringe projection metrology. Doctoral student Joel Berkson and senior research associate Justin Hyatt of the James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences invented the new method.
  • CarbeniumTec LLC, advancing organic-based redox flow battery technology for utility, commercial and residential applications. Assistant professor Thomas Gianetti and postdoctoral research associate Joules Moutet of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry invented the novel battery design.
  • CoreA Therapeutics, Inc., specializing in cancer immunotherapies and antibody-drug conjugates for treating solid tumors. The inventing team from the College of Medicine – Tucson and the BIO5 Institute included Dr. David Bull, associate professor Youngwook Won, and postdoctoral researcher Daniel Lee.
  • Arizona Assist, LLC, a member-driven marketplace that provides one-of-a-kind connections between University of Arizona sports fans, programs and players. The company was founded initially to commercialize the names, images and likenesses of UArizona basketball players.
  • Teleport Pharmaceuticals LLC, developing glycopeptide drugs that penetrate the blood-brain barrier for the treatment of degenerative neurological diseases and conditions. Inventors include professor Robin Polt, associate professor Michael Heien, associate professor Torsten Falk and associate professor John Streicher. Their roles cross multiple colleges and institutes, including the College of Science, College of Medicine – Tucson,  College of Pharmacy and the BIO5 Institute.
  • Gloss Institute Inc., providing tools and procedures developed by College of Education professor Samuel Supalla based on American Sign Language Gloss to facilitate deaf students' learning and English literacy.

TLA will publish a complete annual report this fall.