The Office of Intellectual Property and Commercialization
The University of Alaska Fairbanks conducts approximately $120 million per year in research. Much of this research can lead to commercial products, licenses, technologies, software codes, new plant varieties, and other intellectual property that, if licensed or sold to business, could provide competitive business advantage and create jobs. The newly established Office of Intellectual Property and Commercialization (OIPC) helps faculty, staff, and student inventors at UAF by identifying new inventions, protecting them, and bringing them to market.
Licensing Intellectual Property
Starting with the reorganization of technology transfer efforts at UAF in 2011, OIPC has begun a vigorous intellectual property identification and commercialization effort. In FY12, the office received 32 invention disclosures, a number higher than the previous 12 years combined. As a result, three new provisional patents were filed by the university with three more prepared for future filing. Additionally, a proprietary license, collaborative research agreement, and material transfer agreement were each executed.
Though it can take up to three years to realize the results of filing a patent, solid outreach and development programs have been cultivated to ensure that relationships are made with both inventors and commercial entities. OIPC and UAF recently filed the Articles of Incorporation for the Nanook Innovation Corporation (NIC), a non-profit research foundation to assist with commercializing intellectual property resulting from research conducted at and under the supervision of the university. NIC is a separate entity from the University of Alaska and will have its own board of directors. NIC will have a for-profit subsidiary designed to take equity in start-up companies using technology developed at the university. The ability to launch start-up companies can have a significant impact on the regional economy.
Promoting New Opportunities
To further the development of intellectual property, OIPC established a seed fund competition. Inventors compete for an award of up to $10,000 to complete projects currently in the mid- to late stages of development and prepare for their launch into industry. As a result of the competition, 4 awards were made in 2012. The range of projects included hydrokinetic devices, volcanic ash forecasting, pharmaceutical processing, and soil volume measurement. Due to these awards and the resulting applied research, it is likely that OIPC will file for intellectual property protection, and seek licensing partners. The Office of Intellectual Property and Commercialization is aggressively pursuing the development of UAF innovation and stimulating the local economy as a result.
Promoting New Technologies
UAF has a suite of inventions that are being developed for private sector use. These can be generally divided into several categories: new technology, models and forecasting, and remote sensing. New technologies being patented by UAF are mainly in the areas of energy and medical devices. Both of these technology areas are poised for local entrepreneurship and business development. Models and forecasting, another area with high development potential, includes the use of new models to help forecast natural hazards (e.g., dispersal of volcanic dust plumes) and sea ice dynamics. UAF’s work in remote sensing ranges from the development of sensor suites mounted on unmanned aircraft looking for oil leaks, marine mammals, ice floes, forest fires, search and rescue, and other operations. Alaska businesses would benefit by UAF protecting and licensing in all three areas. By investing in OIPC, the State is investing in its own businesses’ competitive advantage and success in the regional and global markets.
For more information about OIPC and its initiatives, please contact us.