The technology commercialization office of the University of Arizona, Tech Launch Arizona, reports that it had an outstanding year during FY 2016 (July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016) and that UA inventor engagement in technology commercialization activities has attained all-time highs as evidenced by key performance indicators. In addition to technology commercialization, the Tech Parks Arizona component of TLA finished FY 2016 with record accomplishments, as well.
“I am incredibly proud of the achievements that Tech Launch Arizona has had since its start with the advent of Vice President Dr. David Allen in September 2012,” says University of Arizona President Dr. Ann Weaver Hart. “With almost 800 inventions disclosed, 30 startups from UA research, a growing ecosystem of technical experts, business partners, faculty, students, and staff, TLA is helping to set a strong foundation for the University of Arizona’s continuing social and economic impact.”
Technology commercialization is a continuation of the research process. Advances in science, technology and medicine often produce opportunities for discoveries and research findings to be applied in a commercial setting and made available to the general public. The process starts the disclosure of inventions and cumulates with products created by companies that license UA intellectual property.
All told, TLA has achieved record increases since its inception nearly four years ago. For the period between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016, TLA reports the following:
- 250 invention disclosures, up from 213 in 2015 and 188 in 2014.
- 278 UA patents filed, up from 200 in 2015 and 188 in 2014.
- 97 total executed options and licenses, up from 83 in 2015 and 86 in 2014.
- 14 startup licensee companies formed, up from 12 in 2015 and 11 in 2014.
- 27 asset development projects funded, up from 17 in 2015 and 17 in 2014.
- 15 new client companies at the Arizona Center for Innovation
- A $1.74 billion impact in 2015 on the Arizona economy from the UA Tech Park, with 40 tenant companies employing over 5,000 people.
“The performance increases are strong proof that UA technology commercialization has attained a turnaround and the future for impact from UA research and inventive activity is promising.” says Vice President Allen. “The results also show that the TLA approach of integrating the Tucson community and UA alumni can bring technology domain knowledge and entrepreneurial experience to extend the fundamental inventive work of UA faculty.”
Among the 14 startups – new companies based on IP generated from UA research – formed in FY 2016 were a number of bioscience companies, including:
- TetraGene, LLC., focused on targeting secondary DNA structures to modulate expression of undruggable targets. Inventor and co-founder: Laurence Hurley, Ph.D., University of Arizona Cancer Center.
- Yumanity Therapeutics, Inc., discovering new drugs for neurodegenerative disease. UA co-inventor: Leslie Gunantilaka, Ph.D., School of Natural Resources and the Environment and the BIO5 Institute.
- Akhu Therapeutics, Inc., bringing to market a novel peptide-based technology to relieve acute depression. Inventors: Research Professor Minying Cai, Ph.D., and Professor Victor Hruby, Ph.D., of the Hruby Peptide Groupin the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry of the UA College of Science, and also of the BIO5 Institute.
- Promutech Pharmaceuticals, Inc., providing a new treatment for acute myeloid leukemia. UA inventors: Hong-yu Li, Ph.D., professor in the UA College of Pharmacy, and Brendan Frett, Ph.D., graduate of the College and postdoctoral researcher.
- Knowmad Technologies, LLC., offering novel real-time brain chemistry measurement tools. Inventor: Michael Heien, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the UA College of Scienceand the UA College of Medicine-Tucson.
- Anivive Lifesciences, Inc., commercializing drugs that have been in human trials and repurposing them for veterinary applications. One example is PX866, a kinase inhibitor developed in the UA College of Medicine that is being repurposed to treat tumors in dogs.
- Horizon Biotechnologies, LLC., commercializing a phase II cancer drug called amuvatinib, an aurora kinase inhibitor. Inventors: Professor Laurence Hurley, Ph.D., of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicologyin the UA College of Pharmacy, and Daruka Mahadevan, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine at the UA Cancer Center.
Challenges & Opportunities
“As superb as the IP and licensing performance is, it represents a double-edged sword,” says Allen of the groups accomplishment. “On one hand, we are building inventor relationships and connections with technology and business expertise and bringing UA research into the commercial world at levels far exceeding UA’s past. On the other hand, we will be challenged to sustain a high level of activity in an increasingly austere financial environment for UA. The opportunity is for UA to become an ever bigger contributor to the regional innovation ecosystem and to be an even more significant force in the creation of new businesses and technology-related employment. I think we have shown that realization of that opportunity doesn’t occur by happenstance or without expense, but that positive progress can be made in a relatively short timeframe.”
Marketing & Communications Manager
Tech Launch Arizona