In August 2009, USTAR launched the Technology Commercialization Grant (TCG) program, a three-pronged funding mechanism designed to bring innovative new technologies to market from Utah’s public colleges and universities. Two of the 16 submissions received at Utah State University were funded in the first round. Subsequent submission periods are December 31, March 30, and June 30.
The USTAR governing authority in November approved VAMUCH (Variational Asymptotical Method for Unit Cell Homogenization), a computer-aided design and analysis tool for heterogeneous materials used extensively in many engineering and natural systems.
“VAMUCH is a very promising technology,” said Wenbin Yu, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at USU and the 2009 Entrepreneur of the Year for USU’s Technology Commercialization office. “The added versatility, user friendliness and marketability through the support of the USTAR TCG program will enable us to reap its full commercialization potential.”
Also approved in November for USTAR Technology Commercialization Grant funding was the Equine Distress Monitor, a sensor and analysis system to detect the onset of serious health conditions in horses and automatically alert veterinary personnel, developed by Chris Winstead, assistant professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Rebecca Lewis, lecturer and Equine Educational Center manager at USU.
“We are very pleased with the caliber of proposals received during the first submission round,” said Ray DeVito, director of USU’s Technology Commercialization office. “We believe that many good things will come from the TCG program at USU and look forward to working with Drs. Winstead and Yu as they begin the commercialization process.”
The USTAR TCG program is designed to assist inventors and researchers in the final stages of idea implementation and funds are intended to drive the commercialization of technology forward and are committed to supporting research projects that are most likely to generate patents, technology licenses and product commercialization in the short term.
“USTAR was designed to have a role at Utah’s research universities and assist with economic development and innovation,” said Ned Weinshenker, VP for Strategic Ventures and Economic Development at USU. “The purpose of the program is to accelerate the movement of innovative ideas and technologies out of USU and into commercial markets quickly in order to create high paying jobs in the state of Utah.”
USU’s internal Technology Commercialization Review Committee evaluates applications and passes successful applications along to the USTAR Governing Authority for review. Some of the factors they will weigh include the technical merit of the innovation, size and accessibility of the potential market, potential strength of intellectual property, quality of management team and financial viability of a business built upon the innovation.
Technology commercialization is a key component of USU’s research and outreach missions. It supports the university land-grant mandate to improve the lives of Utah citizens and to disseminate research results to the state, the nation and the world.
The USTAR TCG program is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which recently made available $800,000 to Utah State University. For more information on USU’s program, visit the Web site (http://economicdevelopment.usu.edu/htm/t-c-grants
The Utah Science Technology and Research initiative (USTAR) is a long-term, state-funded investment to strengthen Utah’s “knowledge economy” and generate high-paying jobs. Funded in March 2006 by the State Legislature, USTAR is based on three program areas. The first area involves funding for strategic investments at the University of Utah and Utah State University to recruit world-class researchers. The second area is to build state-of-the-art interdisciplinary facilities at these institutions for the innovation teams. The third program area involves teams that work with companies and entrepreneurs across the State to promote science, innovation and commercialization activities.