The B. Otto and Kathleen Wheeley Award is given to a University of Tennessee faculty member, graduate student, medical and/or pharmacy resident, or post-doc who excels in the commercialization of university-based research results. The B. Otto and Kathleen Wheeley Foundation provides the award stipend, through an endowment fund which was established in 1989. The award is specifically intended to recognize faculty who take a direct and active role in the commercialization process. Criteria for the award include:
- The technological and/or scientific significance of the invention
- The market success of the product or process
- The degree of active involvement of the nominee in the commercialization process
- The nominee’s overall contribution to the University’s missions of teaching, research and service
Otto Wheeley, a University of Tennessee graduate, was deputy chair of the Koppers Company and President of Kopvenco, a venture capital subsidiary of Koppers in the early 1980s. Eager to promote technological entrepreneurs in Tennessee, he returned to the state and founded Venture First Associations, Inc., and formed a close alliance with his alma mater to promote the commercialization of university-developed research.