Tech Launch Arizona Wins as Innovator of Year

Thursday, November 12, 2015
TLA Vice President David Allen and SinfoniaRx CEO Kevin Boesen

Phoenix, Ariz. – On November 12, 2015, the Arizona Technology Council (AzTC) and the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) announced the winners of the 2015 Governor’s Celebration of Innovation awards. The awards ceremony, held at the Phoenix Convention Center’s West Building and drawing an audience of over 1,000 people from around Arizona, recognized members of the state’s technology ecosystem for their impact on the community. 

Tech Launch Arizona – the office of the University of Arizona that commercializes the technological inventions stemming from university research – received recognition as the Arizona’s Innovator of the Year in the Academia category.

Whereas in most other academic institutions commercialization and technology transfer reside under the office for research, at the UA, Tech Launch Arizona is a presidential cabinet level unit. Through this arrangement TLA’s functions and responsibilities directly support the pillars of the University’s Never Settle academic and strategic plan.

"Tech Launch Arizona plays an absolutely crucial role in the UA's strategic goals,” said UA President Ann Weaver Hart. “By increasing the number of high quality inventions, patents and partnerships with local and global business leaders, TLA is remaking a relatively underperforming area of the University into an emerging strength, and it has done so in just a few short years. It is wonderful to see that TLA is being recognized for their multiple achievements as this year's Innovator of the Year - Academia recipient."

This integrated strategy, the unit’s innovative programs, and a clear demonstration of success and impact are the elements that led to the award.

According to TLA’s nomination package, the organization’s mission is “to build greater cohesion between the University of Arizona’s substantial research enterprise and the broader technology commercialization and investment communities to significantly enhance the impact of UA research, intellectual property (IP), technological innovation, and assets of Tech Parks Arizona.”

In terms of demonstrating how that mission is bearing fruit and creating social and economic impact, TLA cites among its accomplishments: building a 1,300 plus network of experts to help commercialize UA technologies; implementing programs and providing funds for market research, asset validation and demonstration; and forming connections between the University and business communities to create an ecosystem of invention and commercialization.

Another measure of the organization’s success is demonstrated through the growth in its metrics, which it reports to the Arizona Board of Regents on a yearly basis. In FY 2013, its first full year of operation, the organization received 144 invention disclosures, executed 48 licenses and options, and registered three startups. This past year, FY 2015, those numbers grew to 213 invention disclosures, 83 licenses and options, and 12 startup companies.

According to TLA Vice President David Allen, Ph.D., this is just the beginning.

“We’re just hitting our stride,” he says. “It is reassuring to see how University researchers and the technology community has responded to the new approach to technology commercialization promulgated by TLA.”

The TLA team is proud of their accomplishments, but they also realize that they can’t do what they do without committed partners from across the University, state and nation.

“Given the performance goals we’ve set for ourselves and the University, the primary means to reaching the levels of achievement like those that have brought us to this recognition is through expanded engagement with University researchers and business allies from across the technology business community,” says Allen. “We look forward to this award helping bring more people into our circle of support to advance technology commercialization at UA.” 

The ACA and AzTC give the award to a qualifying department or office within an Arizona accredited higher education institution that has demonstrated success in the areas of research and development; technical innovation or scientific achievement and potential commercial viability; and economic development.

In addition to the Academia category, the event recognizes one honoree in each of three additional categories: Innovator of the Year – Start-up Company, Innovator of the Year – Small Company, and Individual Company Award.

- written by Paul Tumarkin
Paul Tumarkin