The innovation landscape is constantly evolving with new products, services, and companies entering the market each year. Looking back over the past decade, we’re presented with a long list of accomplishments in commercialization because the faculty, staff, and students at the University of Tennessee continue to develop new intellectual property that shapes the future of research and technology.
Part of UTRF’s core mission is to promote the commercialization of intellectual property through helping these innovators and entrepreneurs bring their products to market or launch new companies with UT technologies. Since 2010, UTRF has assisted in numerous notable product launches, including: Persist orchardgrass, one of the most popular commercial forage grasses currently in use throughout the nation; the SEFM app, used to create a more realistic experience to instruct future nurses in monitoring babies and mothers during labor; Quire Data, which provides a clinical/medical intelligence tool to the healthcare industry; and DocuCare, an electronic health record that teaches students and health care professionals how to document and retrieve patient data.
The past decade has also been busy for UTRF subsidiaries and startups. During this period, UTRF formed five vital subsidiaries: Cherokee Farm Development Corporation (CFDC) in 2011; Space Institute Research Corporation (SIRC) in 2011; Collaborative Composite Solutions Corporation in 2014; Cherokee Farm Property Investments (CFPI) in 2014; and Clinical Trials Network of Tennessee (CTN2) in 2017.
UTRF also helped launch 23 startups in the fields of medical education, medical devices, biotechnology, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, green chemistry, and diagnostics. Some of these startups include Hubble Telemedical (2010), Entac Medical (2012), Prisma Renewable Composites (2015), and Genera (2012). Most recently, Genera secured a $118 million investment to build its first manufacturing facility in Vonore, Tennessee, to produce its Earthable paper and packaging products.
Additional elements of UTRF’s core mission encourage an entrepreneurial culture and promote research and education. To do so, UTRF actively participates in launching and sponsoring new programs and event opportunities at UT and across the region.
At the beginning of the decade, UTRF established the Commercialization Analyst Program to provide qualified graduate students with hands-on experience in the commercialization of intellectual property. Additionally, in collaboration with Life Science Tennessee, UTRF helped expand the nine-week Scipreneur Challenge to hold events both in Memphis and Knoxville, where participating teams of students, scientists, clinicians, and mentors create a business plan for STEM-related intellectual properties and compete in a final pitch competition.
In 2015, UTRF joined the Innov865 Alliance to develop, support, and promote Knoxville’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and has helped host the National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation Corps (I-Corps) regional workshop series since 2017. Other relevant events and programs include Senior Design, the Rise & Grind series, Southeast XOR, Entrepreneur-In-Residence at UTHSC, Phase II Maturation Grants at UTHSC, and SBIR Training sessions.
In terms of metrics, UTRF has more than doubled its disclosure numbers and licenses executed over the past ten years. UTRF had 168 disclosures and executed 30 licenses agreements in fiscal year 2019. Throughout the decade, UTRF brought in over $18.68 million in license revenue with a total of 1,392 disclosures and 226 license agreements. Meanwhile, total capital raised by UTRF startups surpassed $200 million.
“We celebrate our UT faculty, staff, and students for their continued commercialization efforts and achievements over the past 10 years,” said Stacey Patterson, UTRF president and University of Tennessee vice president for research, outreach and economic development. “I am proud to lead the UTRF team and look forward to continuing to serve UT through our technology transfer mission into the next decade.”