Inventive ASU faculty recognized for record-breaking year

Inventive ASU faculty recognized for record-breaking year

March 10, 2016

March 9, 2016

Arizona Technology Enterprises (AzTE) recently celebrated a record-breaking year for the number of inventions, patents and startup companies that have come out of Arizona State University.

“The purpose of this event is really to thank ASU’s inventive faculty for their innovation, creativity and hard work,” said Ken Polasko, the executive director at AzTE, ASU’s exclusive intellectual property management and technology transfer organization.

During fiscal year 2015, ASU faculty were issued 62 U.S. patents, launched 12 new startup companies and submitted 270 invention disclosures to AzTE.

Since its inception, AzTE has fostered the launch of more than 80 companies based on ASU innovations, and attracted more than $500 million in external funding, including $40 million in fiscal year 2015 alone.

Vice president for research development of ASU’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise, Elizabeth “Betsy” Cantwell, spoke at the event, held March 2 at Postino’s Annex, about how remarkable it was for the faculty being honored to take an idea and turn it into intellectual property.

“The list of patents, startups and licenses is phenomenal for an institution where everybody who contributed has multiple hats and multiple things they’re doing. Most importantly, teaching a large, large number of young people.”

She addressed the challenges of the current innovation environment, where there is less money available for research yet higher expectations for the rapid delivery of ideas to the commercial market.

“In that environment you have, all of you, each of you, has taken an idea all the way from its beginnings to a useful endpoint - in my lifetime,” she said.

Michael Cleare, former executive director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Technology and a member of AzTE’s board of directors since 2008, said the intellectual property output was indicative of ASU faculty’s ability to “punch above their weight” to routinely outperform research institutions with greater numbers of research faculty or expenditures.

ASU recently topped the list of “most innovative schools” in the annual U.S. News & World Report college rankings for 2016.

In total, 75 ASU faculty were honored at the event with their choice of receiving framed certificates of their U.S. patents and/or licensed technologies to acknowledge their accomplishment.

One such faculty member, Ken Roland, was recognized for receiving a U.S. patent for making a chicken vaccine to prevent necrotic enteritis—a disease caused by C. perfringens bacteria that can cause a flock of infected chickens to have up to a 50 percent mortality rate.

“This vaccine will allow farmers to withdraw antibiotics from their poultry production because it’s known that without antibiotics incidence of necrotic enteritis goes very high,” said Roland, “So this will allow the farmers to rear their chickens without using antibiotics.”

Roland, an associate research professor at the Biodesign Institute was also acknowledged for his involvement in a startup called AniVax, Inc. along with Wei Kong, a research associate professor at the Biodesign Institute.

Other examples of ASU ingenuity included:

  • James Aberle, Terry Alford and David Allee developed novel flexible display technology and identification systems;
  • Hugh Barnaby improved the reliability modeling for large-scale CMOS circuit design;
  • Candace Chan developed new alloys for rechargeable batteries;
  • Lawrence Clark had the most patents issued—nine—an incredible output that focused on integrated circuits and flexible display electronics;
  • Douglas Lake developed a new way of detecting Valley Fever;
  • Jian Li developed new chemistry and complexes for novel applications in light emitting devices;
  • Stuart Lindsay and Peiming Zhang developed a next-generation DNA sequencer based on carbon nanotube technology, and along with Brian Ashcroft, a new start-up called Recognition Analytix LLC;
  • Tsafrir Mor used plants to produce a new therapeutic, called human butyrylcholinesterase, that can rapidly reverse paralysis of the airways (or apnea) caused by succinylcholine.
  • Kimberly Scott launched CompuGirls LLC, a culturally responsive technology program for adolescent (grades 8-12) girls from under-resourced school districts in the Greater Phoenix area and in Colorado;
  • Kathyrn Scheckel’s start-up, Spark Open Research LLC, has created an online mentoring and research experiences program;
  • Bruce Towe developed a neurostimulator using semiconductor diode systems;
  • Willem Vermaas harnessed cyanobacteria for producing novel bioplastics and biomaterials.

To build on future success, AzTE has made a one-stop shop for intellectual property development available. In 2015, AzTE and ASU's Office of Knowledge Enterprise initiated the Startup Mill, an entrepreneurial support program that provides startups with mentors, resources and training, and is available for use by internal and external startups.


Written by: Ally Carr