Tech Launch Arizona will hold its second annual awards event, the I-Squared Awards for Innovation and Impact, honoring those whose work directly affects quality of life through research, collaboration and innovation.
David Allen, vice president of Tech Launch Arizona, or TLA, the commercialization arm of the University of Arizona, will emcee the event. UA President Ann Weaver Hart will help present the awards. The program will begin at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the UA Museum of Art.
"This is a great moment for us to recognize those who are applying knowledge to today’s major challenges and questions, and giving voice to the importance of moving that knowledge out into the world," Hart said.
Honors will be given to select individuals and teams in eight categories for their contributions to their respective fields. Six awards will be given to UA faculty/researchers/staff who have demonstrated excellence as inventors and TLA partners:
- I2 Award for Chemistry — Victor Hruby, Regents’ Professor Emeritus of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the UA College of Science. Most recently, the Hruby Peptide Group invented a peptide that helps humans produce photo-protective melanin as a natural prevention against skin cancers, and worked with TLA and the UA to license the technology to Teleost Biopharmaceutical of Boulder, Colorado.
- I2 Award for Biomedicine — Eugene Gerner, professor emeritus of cellular and molecular medicine in the UA College of Medicine. Among his notable contributions is the creation of Cancer Prevention Pharmaceuticals, a Tucson-based company, with two therapeutic products in Phase 3 clinical testing and one in Phase 2.
- I2 Award for Information Technology — Yi-Chang Chiu, associate professor of civil engineering. Chiu worked with the UA to patent his technology, and founded startup company Metropia Inc. in Tucson to bring to the marketplace his technology for a mobile app that incentivizes commuters to change their driving habits for improved regional traffic. The patent was granted in November 2014, at which point the company licensed the technology from the UA for commercialization.
- I2 Award for Engineering — Linda Powers, professor and Thomas Brown Chair in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Most recently Powers worked on developing and commercializing unique, hand-held sensor technologies for detecting and identifying microbes.
- I2 Award for Agriculture & Life Sciences — Joel Cuello, in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering. Cuello’s focus has been on innovative ways of growing algae for sustainable biofuel production.
- I2 Award for Campus Collaboration — The University Libraries Business Intelligence Team, in recognition of its partnership in providing research and business intelligence to support TLA’s efforts in helping direct development of new UA technologies and startups. Recipients include UA Libraries team members Jason Dewland, Cindy Elliott, Sandra Kramer and Jennifer Martin.
In addition to appointments within their respective colleges, Hruby, Gerner, Powers and Cuello also are members of the UA’s BIO5 Institute.
Two award categories will recognize contributions from outside the UA:
- I2 Award for Industry & Corporate Partnership — David Hutchens, CEO of Tucson Electric Power, in recognition of demonstrated excellence in collaboration to forward the TLA mission. Among the many activities TEP engages in with the UA, the company has been a committed partner in the development of the UA Tech Parks Solar Zone, transforming it into a nationally recognized resource for development, testing and evaluation of grid-integrated solar technologies.
- I2 Award for Ecosystem Impact — Oliver Davis, of May Potenza, Baran & Gillespie in Phoenix, a UA alumnus who has worked to open pathways and relationships in Tucson and Phoenix for UA-born technologies. The award recognizes Davis as a community leader who has a demonstrated commitment to TLA.
"TLA is delighted to recognize these people, companies and units who represent positive attributes of creating impact on technology commercialization in the technical communities and human networks in which they operate," Allen said. "Although these are the most noteworthy for this award this year, this group is but a sampling of the scores of individuals and organizations that TLA works with that are inventing, developing, commercializing and in other ways providing value to the research and creative energy at the University of Arizona."
Tech Launch Arizona, a presidential cabinet-level office of the UA, creates social and economic impact through bringing the inventions of the UA from the lab to the world. It builds connections between the talents of faculty and researchers and the experience of entrepreneurs and investors. It grows ideas from the lab into new products and thriving businesses that benefit society.