UArizona reports second-most inventive year on record

Aug. 7, 2023

Tech Launch Arizona releases performance metrics for fiscal year 2023, which include 298 invention disclosures from faculty and staff.

An aerial image of the University of Arizona campus.

TUCSON, AZ – Tech Launch Arizona, the office of the University of Arizona that commercializes inventions stemming from university research and innovation, has released its performance metrics for fiscal year 2023 (July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023). During the past year, TLA filed 392 patents for UArizona inventions, executed 100 licenses and options for UArizona technologies, and launched another 7 startups. The office took in 298 invention disclosures from university innovators, almost matching last year’s record-breaking achievement of 303 disclosures.

As a research and innovation powerhouse, the UArizona, which achieved $824 million in research expenditures and 92 issued patents last year, ranks 30 in the world among the top 100 worldwide universities granted U.S. utility patents in 2022 – tied with the University of Illinois – according to the National Academy of Inventors.

“We are still experiencing the downstream affects of the COVID pandemic,” said TLA Associate Vice President Doug Hockstad. “While we had our best year ever in terms of disclosures in FY2022, we’re still rebuilding our momentum in terms of inventor and entrepreneurial engagement.”

To that end, TLA is implementing new programs and growing existing ones to improve opportunities for university innovators to engage in creating impact form their work, from new “Inspiration 2 Impact” lunch meetings coming in the fall to a social innovation initiative that widens the lens on how the campus community can leverage their creative ideas for a better world. The office is also re-launching its Venture Mentoring Service or “UAZ VMS” – a collaboration with the University of Arizona Center for Innovation (UACI) and FORGE to provide entrepreneurial teams throughout the community with experienced mentors to help them strategize, succeed and grow.

Elizabeth “Betsy” Cantwell, former Senior Vice President for Resarch and Innovation, Research, Innovation and Impact which oversees TLA, UACI and FORGE, recently left her position to assume a new post as President of the Utah State University. Associate Vice President of University Research Instututes Elliott Cheu has assumed the role of interim Vice President for Research and Innovation.

“I’ve watched TLA over the years, and I know the team to be extremely self-sufficient and high-performing,” Cheu said. “I’m looking forward to working with Doug and his group to keep driving impact from our growing research portfolio and the cutting-edge innovation occurring at the University of Arizona.”

According to Hockstad, developing startup teams and launching companies that are well-prepared to enter the marketplace is a top priority for TLA. Since the UArizona first received its designation as an I-Corps Site in 2016, the program has served over 200 teams consisting of university-affiliated companies. This past year, the UArizona became a member of the Desert and Pacific Region Hub of the NSF I-Corps program, an NSF-funded program that trains researchers to bring high-potential inventions from the laboratory to the marketplace.

“Technology startups in our community who are looking to develop a deep, effective understanding of what customer segments to target are invited to join the program,” said Hockstad. “We’re here as a service to university-affiliated entrepreneurial ventures across our ecosystem.” Applications are now being accepted for future I-Corps cohorts.

The group of UArizona startups launched in FY2023 includes:

  • Norcon Technologies Holding, Inc.: commercializing advanced optics for 3D depth imaging developed in the Wyant College of Optical Sciences and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Inventors include Professor Dennis Lichtenberger, Professor Emeritus Richard Glass, Professor Robert Norwood, Professor Jeffrey Pyun, Research Chemist and former UArizona Research Specialist Tristan Kleine, former Graduate Research Assistant Meghan O’Brien Hamilton, former graduate student Laura Anderson, manufacturing technician and former assistant manager of the UArizona Micro-optical Fabrication Facility Oliver Spires, and Raytheon Senior and former PhD student in optical sciences Nicholas Lyons (’21).
  • Regenerix LLC: developing therapies for neurodegenerative disorders using next-generation inflamation and cell death inhibitors, invented by Associate Research Professor Vijay Gokhale of the BIO5 Institute, Postdoctoral Research Associate Jonathan Lares Sanchez of the College of Medicine – Tucson, and NYU Associate Professor of Molecular Pathobiology May Khanna, formerly of the UArizona.
  • Team Williams Net LLC: bringing to market a computerized maintenance management system developed by Facilities Management department staff.
  • UGenome LLC: launched to commercialize bioinformatics solutions to reduce the time and cost of developing drugs and therapies for cancers and rare diseases developed by precision medicine expert and former UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson researcher Adam Grant.
  • Resonance Pharma Incorporated: developing lipid research for precision diagnostics and therapeutics for cancer, sepsis, and infection, invented by Professors Ashley Jones Snider and Floyd “Ski” Chilton of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the BIO5 Institute, and Justin Snyder of the UArizona Cancer Center.
  • JKT Education Consulting, LLC: led by Jen Kinser-Traut, director of the Tucsion Regional Educator Collaborative (TREC) at the UArizona College of Education, who developed a technology that connects regional educators, resources, and partners to support professional growth.
  • Post-Quantum Tek, Inc.: formed to commercialize an optical switch that is cooler, faster, and more energy-efficient than technologies in use today, devleoped in the Wyant College of Optical Sciences by Professor and Chair of Photonics and Lasers Nasser Peyghambarian, optical scientist and former UA professor Pierre Planche, and former doctoral student Brittany Lynn, currently  a scientist/project manager at Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific.

TLA will publish this data in its annual report coming in the fall of 2023.

Paul Tumarkin, Assistant Director, Marketing & Communications