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Research / Discovery

Faculty more than doubled invention disclosures between 2006 and 2008

July 22, 2009

Faculty members have more than doubled the number of invention disclosures - detailed descriptions of inventions - filed with the university's technology transfer office in the past three years.

Invention disclosures have more than doubled to 91 in FY 2008 from 42 in FY 2006, according to the Colorado State University Research Foundation. As of the end of June, faculty had exceeded 100 invention disclosures in FY 2009.

Increased productivity 

Many faculty members have participated in collaborations through the university’s Superclusters, and this opportunity to work across disciplines has increased productivity, said President Tony Frank.

(Photo at right:  Bryan Willson, director of the Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory, director of the Clean Energy Supercluster and Envirofit founder, examines cook stove technology.)

The unique Supercluster technology transfer model pairs CSU faculty in areas of academic strength with industry experts who help gauge market timing for new products in those areas. The first three Superclusters are in clean energy, infectious disease and cancer.

Outside business expertise

“Faculty at Colorado State were already leaders in their fields as far as working together and building teams to address some of the world’s biggest global challenges such as air pollution and cancer treatments and cures,” Frank said. “The Superclusters added outside business expertise – people from industry who take the guesswork out of entrepreneurship and help faculty get their innovations to the marketplace.”

CSU Ventures, the “business” side of the Superclusters based in the Colorado State University Research Foundation, recruited key individuals from industry to work with faculty to promote technology transfer and facilitate partnerships with the business community. They include Tim Reeser, chief operating officer, Cenergy (clean energy); Terry Opgenorth, chief operating officer, NeoTREX (cancer); and Joseph Guiles, chief operating officer, MicroRx (infectious disease).

Working exactly as hoped

“Faculty are embracing the model and producing more innovations that could lead to new products or companies,” Frank said.

“Our goal with the Superclusters was to support faculty collaboration and encourage new inventions in areas where CSU research could make a positive difference for our world. These numbers - and the conversations I’ve had with faculty - indicate this is working exactly as we hoped it would.”

“At Colorado State University, we continue to do a good job with providing clinical service, teaching and conducting research while at the same time embracing a new set of partners for success,” said Dr. Stephen Withrow, chief scientific officer of NeoTREX and director of academic activities.

“This has been a win-win for researchers as well as for industry, to find new commercial markets for innovations that come from the traditional academic laboratory.”

Clean energy, cancer, infectious disease

The majority of the invention disclosures received in the Supercluster areas of clean energy, cancer and infectious disease in the past 15 years have been filed in the past two years:

  • 53 percent of the invention disclosures in clean energy (25 of 47)
  • 51 percent of the invention disclosures in infectious disease (33 of 65)
  • 90 percent of the invention disclosures in cancer (36 of 40)

Highly successful CSU startups such as Abound Solar, Solix Biofuels and Envirofit International have raised the profile of CSU’s faculty and the Supercluster/technology transfer concept even though they were created before the Superclusters existed. Abound Solar and Solix Biofuels raised a total of $120 million in venture capital funding in the last year; Envirofit International secured a commitment of $25 million from the Shell Foundation to design, build and disseminate 10 million cookstoves in the developing world in the next four years.


Contact: Emily Wilmsen
E-mail: Emily.Wilmsen@colostate.edu
Phone: (970) 491-2336