The Innovation Driver Award was created in 2016 to recognize faculty inventors who are relatively new working with UTRF, meaning they have submitted their first invention disclosure within the last three years but have demonstrated an enthusiasm, an excitement and a drive to take those inventions and ideas to the commercial market. Winners are chosen by the UTRF Licensing  and Leadership Teams.

“The commercialization process can be really intense, and it takes patience and perseverance,” said Patterson. “So this year because of all the work that goes into the process, we wanted to recognize these newest faculty members who have shown the ambition that it takes to make an idea a commercialization success.”


In December, 2016, the first Innovation Driver Award went to Dr. Suresh Babu, UT-ORNL Governor’s Chair for Advanced Manufacturing in UT’s Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering as well as the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. The second Innovation Driver Award was presented to Dr. Ky Pohler in the Department of Animal Science at the UT Institute for Agriculture. They each received a $1,000 check from UTRF.