Jon Njardarson (left), working in collaboration with the Office of Instructional Assessment, developed Chemistry by Design, an elegant mobile app that helps in learning organic chemistry.
Jon Njardarson (left), working in collaboration with the Office of Instructional Assessment, developed Chemistry by Design, an elegant mobile app that helps in learning organic chemistry.

UA Marks Record Second Year in Research Commercialization, Several Notable Startups

In the last year, Tech Launch Arizona at the UA achieved more than 200 invention disclosures and the formation of 12 startup licensee companies.
July 29, 2015
 The UA created Tech Launch Arizona  to move inventions, technologies and intellectual property from the laboratory out into the marketplace.
The UA created Tech Launch Arizona to move inventions, technologies and intellectual property from the laboratory out into the marketplace.
With Tech Launch Arizona, the UA is expanding its impact through technology innovation, research translation and economic development.
With Tech Launch Arizona, the UA is expanding its impact through technology innovation, research translation and economic development.

Tech Launch Arizona, the multi-pronged office of the University of Arizona that commercializes inventions emanating from UA research, achieved all of its performance metrics in its second full year of operations, achieving more than 200 invention disclosures and the formation of 12 startup licensee companies.

TLA's successes, which represent increases over the previous year and support the UA's Never Settle strategic plan, were a key factor in the University's recent recognition by the Association of Public Land-grant Universities.

APLU designated the UA as an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University for its support of economic development in the state and region through a variety of activities. Only 18 U.S. universities received the designation this year.

"As Arizona's land-grant university, the University of Arizona is absolutely committed to creating improved prospects and enriched lives for the people of our state and the world," UA President Ann Weaver Hart said.

"Expanding the UA's impact through technology innovation, research translation and economic development is an integral part of this mission, and the success of Tech Launch Arizona over the past two years is an important indicator of what is possible," Hart said.

"TLA's innovation ecosystem provides exceptional opportunities for research application, partnership and student engagement, and I very much look forward to the many innovations and opportunities that will emerge in what promises to be a remarkable third year of operations.”

TLA reported these accomplishments between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015:

  • 213 invention disclosures (up from 188 in FY 2014);
  • 99 provisional and 89 utility patents filed (up from 92 and 61);
  • 45 exclusive license and option agreements (up from 39);
  • 12 startup licensee companies formed (up from 11), with a greater percentage suitable for investment;
  • 35 patents issued (up from 24);
  • More than $2.1 million in revenue from royalties and patent reimbursements for intellectual property, an increase of 25 percent;
  • Increased tenancy at the UA Tech Park by five new companies, for a total of 44 companies and organizations;
  • Support of 16 companies and 17 workshops reaching 244 technologists and entrepreneurs at the Arizona Center for Innovation.

The University created TLA in 2013 by merging three separate functions – technology transfer, tech parks, and corporate and business relations – and creating a fourth function: new venture development.

Today, that structure has coalesced, consisting of three integrated teams and functions: technology transfer, which identifies, protects and licenses UA inventions, and supports startup formation; a business development resources group, which uses resources from across the innovation ecosystem to position inventions for market success; and Tech Parks Arizona, which provides the interactive ground for businesses to grow their products and services while leveraging the talent and resources of a top-tier public research university.

"This multifacited, innovative approach to commercialization is proving to be quite successful in nurturing UA research from the lab to the marketplace," said David Allen, vice president of Tech Launch Arizona.

"I am pleased with the progress TLA has made over the past year, and our performance is testimony to hundreds of UA inventors, administrators and students, volunteer advisers and service providers in Arizona and beyond, all aligned to make the UA a technology commercialization powerhouse."

Successful startups have included SinfoníaRx, whose proprietary software, invented at the UA College of Pharmacy, will be used by Walmart to proactively monitor prescription medications for patients; Synactix Pharmaceuticals, which has licensed a novel cancer treatment technology developed through College of Pharmacy research; and Anivax, which has licensed a UA-developed poultry vaccine to reduce colonization by bacteria and lower the incidence of human disease.

In August, TLA will release its FY 2015 annual report and Roadmap update with new goals and evolving programs for the coming year.