UTSA Honors 16 researchers for innovation in sciences and engineering

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Yusheng Feng

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(Dec. 5, 2013) -- UTSA President Ricardo Romo, Interim Vice President for Research Mauli Agrawal and the UTSA Office of Commercialization and Innovation recognized 16 researchers yesterday with UTSA Innovation Awards. The inaugural awards spotlighted the efforts of UTSA scholars who have greatly contributed to creating a university environment that promotes innovation and the commercialization of research discoveries.

Thirteen of the 16 recipients were honored for receiving patents during the past fiscal year. They included:

  • Sos Agaian, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • David Akopian, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Arturo Ayon, Department of Physics and Astronomy
  • Rajendra Boppana, Department of Computer Science
  • James Chambers, Department of Biology
  • Neal Guentzel, Department of Biology
  • Karl Klose, Department of Biology
  • George Negrete, Department of Chemistry
  • Robert Renthal, Department of Biology
  • Dhiraj Sardar, Department of Physics and Astronomy
  • Bruce Smith, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Richard Tangum, Department of Architecture
  • Jieh-Juen Yu, Department of Biology

Additionally, Bernard Arulanandam, assistant vice president for research support and UTSA Roland K. and Jane W. Blumberg Professor in Bioscience, and Banglin Chen, professor of chemistry, were presented with the licensing revenue their respective discoveries generated during FY 2013.

Mechanical engineering professor Yusheng Feng was named the UTSA Innovator of the Year. The award recognized Feng's research on the use of nanoparticles for cancer treatment as well as his work in computational modeling and visualization. Feng oversees UTSA's Advanced Visualization Laboratory.

Since fiscal year 2008, UTSA has built a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem to encourage faculty and students to develop and commercialize innovative products and discoveries. That environment includes:

  • academic programs of study to spur entrepreneurship and technology management, technology development and technology transfer;
  • research administration support through the UTSA Office of the Vice President for Research and the Office of Commercialization and Innovation that includes a clear invention disclosure and patenting process as well as a structure to help researchers explore licensing partners;
  • a generous royalty policy, by higher education industry standards, that allows UTSA researchers to split revenue from license fees and royalties with the university 50/50;
  • a New Venture Incubator to help UTSA faculty and students move their ideas from the university to marketplace;
  • the bi-annual Center for Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship (CITE) Boot Camp, a daylong crash course allowing entrepreneurs from throughout the region to explore key topics to nurture a successful start-up;
  • CITE's $100,000 Student Technology Venture Competition, which allows undergrads the opportunity to develop and market an actual technology before they graduate;
  • a regional network of partners and supporters such as the Commercialization Council, an elite group of C-suite executives dedicated to creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem in San Antonio, and SBIR, STTR and ETF partnerships, among others

Those efforts have proven beneficial. Over the past five years (FY 09 vs. FY 13), UTSA has increased its annual:

  • commercial memoranda of understanding and nondisclosure agreements from 31 (FY 09) to 52 (FY 13)
  • new invention disclosures from 24 to 62
  • patents filed from three to 76
  • students competing in the $100K Student Technology Venture Competition from 98 to 128
  • entrepreneurs trained in the UTSA CITE Boot Camp from 155 to 295
  • incubated companies from 3 to 13