TAMPA, Fla. (October 26, 2012) – When vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan dropped by the University of South Florida recently to talk with USF students, faculty and entrepreneurs, his first stop was USF CONNECT in the USF Research Park, to tour Tampa Bay Technology Incubator (TBTI) facilities and visit with several of the 30-plus start-up companies nurtured and developed at the university.
Dr. Paul R. Sanberg, USF vice president for research and innovation, greeted Ryan when he arrived, and shared some of the national and international recognition the university has been receiving, including being ranked in the top 10 universities worldwide for utility patents for the past two years, according to the Intellectual Property Owners Association.
“Congressman Ryan had an opportunity to see the results of USF’s focus on innovation and invention over the past decade,” said Sanberg. “We discussed the university’s strength in patents, licensing and commercialization, which has helped us launch startup companies and create new, high wage jobs through our business incubator.”
Ryan met briefly with representatives from several TBTI companies: Dr. Kerriann Greenhalgh, founder and CEO of KeriCure, Inc.; Dr. Larry Dunleavy, co-founder and CEO of Modelithics, Inc.; and Drs. Miranda Cheney and David Weyna, research scientists from Thar Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
KeriCure, an early stage company specializing in novel, cost effective topical wound care products, was formed to commercialize an advanced technology developed by Greenhalgh and USF professor Dr. Edward Turos, which is exclusively licensed by USF to KeriCure. Greenhalgh presented Ryan with a bottle of the company’s signature product, KeriCure Quick Seal Liquid Bandage.
Modelithics, a USF spin-off in 2001, provides innovative software that speeds up wireless product design, with customers that include major US defense contractors like Harris, Northrop and Raytheon and world-wide wireless equipment providers Motorola, Ericsson and Nokia. In terms of job creation, Dunleavy reported that the company is stable, has been providing jobs for over 15 families in the area, and has trained well over 60 student interns.
Thar Pharmaceuticals, spun out of Thar Technologies in 2007 to focus on the improvement and optimization of existing drugs, creates new patentable versions of small molecule drugs that can solve certain clinical limitations related to bioavailability, safety, efficacy or stability. The company has offices in Pittsburgh and in the USF Research Park in Tampa.
While at the research park, Ryan also toured the Bioengineering Center of Draper Laboratory, a non-profit research and development organization headquartered in Cambridge, MA, with roots at MIT, which is focused on solving global problems in healthcare, security, energy, and space systems. In their Tampa facility, Draper scientists collaborate with USF researchers on health challenges, including malaria and post-traumatic stress disorder. Dr. Timothy Postlethwaite, Draper program manager and principal investigator, led the tour that included viewing Draper’s drug discovery platforms, tools for psychophysiological assessment and instruments used during recent NASA missions.
Sanberg shared information with Ryan about the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), a membership organization of academic inventors who hold U.S. patents, which started with a single chapter at USF in 2010. The NAI has a close partnership with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and has grown in less than 3 years to over 2,000 members at 43 universities and non-profit research institutes across the U.S. and internationally. The organization will host its 2nd annual conference at USF next February, when it plans to induct the charter class of its newly-launched, highly prestigious NAI Fellows program.
Following his visit to the USF Research Park, Ryan held a roundtable discussion at the Gibbons Alumni Center with students, faculty and alumni on entrepreneurship, and starting and growing a business.
“We were happy to have the chance to share with Congressman Ryan how USF is helping to change the academic culture to promote innovation and entrepreneurship at universities,” said Sanberg.
“When a university recognizes their academic inventors and entrepreneurs, and celebrates their efforts and success in patenting, licensing and commercialization, it has an incredible impact on economic development in the university’s local community, state and throughout the nation.”
The University of South Florida is a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. USF ranks 50th in the nation for federal expenditures in research and total expenditures in research among all U.S. universities, public or private, according to the National Science Foundation. Serving more than 47,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.5 billion and an annual economic impact of $3.7 billion. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference (www.usf.edu).
USF CONNECT focuses on the needs of Tampa Bay’s technology and bio/life sciences entrepreneurs throughout the business life cycle, providing the facilities, partners and resources for successful business development. USF CONNECT offers access to technologies, workforce programs, technology commercialization, critical research equipment, and incubator facilities, adding value and delivering targeted, high level expertise to its member businesses (http://www.research.usf.edu/rf/usf-connect.asp).
The Tampa Bay Technology Incubator is one vehicle through which USF CONNECT grows successful companies. TBTI supports technology research as a catalyst for economic development and advocates the creation and development of facilities for high-technology companies and related support functions (http://www.research.usf.edu/rf/tbti.asp).
The USF Research Park of Tampa Bay was established with the core philosophy of an innovation complex that brings together the best interdisciplinary research teams in an environment of collaboration with private sector research and entrepreneurs. The innovation complex concept allows scientists and entrepreneurs to work side-by-side, share innovations, and make advancements that succeed in both the laboratory and the marketplace (http://www.research.usf.edu/rf/research-park.asp).
The National Academy of Inventors® is a 501c3 non-profit organization comprised of U.S. and international universities and non-profit research institutes. It was founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors with a patent issued from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation, encourage the disclosure of intellectual property, educate and mentor innovative students, and translate the inventions of its members to benefit society. The NAI edits the multidisciplinary journal, “Technology and Innovation – Proceedings of the National Academy of Inventors” (www.academyofinventors.org).