Announcements From the VPR

Research Insights

Partner with Innovation Gateway to maximize research impact

Looking for ways to increase the impact of your research or to more directly connect it with community? Consider partnering with UGA’s Cooperative Extension! As both a land- and sea-grant institution, UGA is charged with serving the needs of Georgia and its citizens, and boasts one of the most robust Extension programs in the nation, with dedicated agents providing consultation and programming in every one of Georgia’s 159 counties. Extension’s stated purpose is “to translate the science of everyday living for farmers, families and communities to foster a healthy and prosperous Georgia.”

University of Georgia faculty members are innovative! Of the 200 or so startup projects currently in Innovation Gateway’s pipeline, more than 90% are led by faculty researchers. If your research has potential for commercialization, please know you work at an excellent university to help you translate your ideas to market and social good.

Of course, many entrepreneurially minded students also benefit from Innovation Gateway programs and assistance, but their pathways to market also wind through our various college-based pitch competitions. For Innovation Gateway, faculty are the primary audience and client base.

Over the past five years, “innovation” has been a much-used word on campus. It’s a goal to which many of us aspire—and for good reason. When the Innovation District was established in 2019, it was intended in part to support faculty invention disclosures along with patent and licensing agreements. Our faculty were proving themselves to be one of the most active group of innovators in the U.S., and the Innovation District simply sprang out of the activity that was organically occurring.

The numbers support these observations. UGA has ranked among the Top 5 for new research-based products to market in each of the nine years that metric has been compiled, but that’s just part of the story. More than 1,000 products and over 250 companies have been created from UGA research.

Innovation Gateway personnel assist at every stage of the commercialization process. The Innovation Gateway team members can help secure intellectual property (IP) rights through patents, trademarks and copyrights. They can facilitate feedback from industry partners to help faculty close the gap between a technology’s current state and the point of commercialization. The Innovation Gateway licensing team is in place and ready to facilitate the process and can negotiate and execute material transfer, confidentiality and data agreements, as well as review and negotiate IP clauses in sponsored research agreements.

Why is it so important to protect your ideas? Simply stated, the odds of commercializing your ideas are profoundly increased if those concepts are protected. Protection means a limited time, financial market advantage that allows the development and launch of new products, without the crowd of competitors.

If you decide to take the very exciting plunge and form a startup company of your own (yes, ideas protection is even more vital in this instance), Innovation Gateway has spent this year gearing up to provide even better support. We now offer assistance throughout the startup process, from exploration to evaluation, to development and scale up.

That’s part of the reason Innovation Gateway’s startup pipeline has doubled since we launched the Innovation District, from just over 100 projects in 2018 to more than 200 today. During that time, UGA-based startups—companies you’ve heard about, such as ArunA Bio, Blue Lake Technology, InfraredRx and Can I Recycle This?—have successfully earned upwards of $90 million in grants and investments.

Supported by a generous gift from the Truist Foundation, Innovation Gateway supports both the university and Athens-Clarke County startup communities through experiential learning activities, such as NSF I-Corps, Innovation Bootcamp and Faculty Innovation Fellows. It’s also a highly visible and recognizable UGA entryway for industry engagement.

Last month’s blog topic was UGA Cooperative Extension and its vital role in supporting UGA’s land-grant mission as well as helping us better understand our “customers,” i.e. the people of the state. Commercializing research is complementary to that mission and makes the ideas about which we are so passionate more widely available and in the right format to benefit citizens in Georgia and beyond.

If you believe your research has commercial potential (or even if you think not but the topic interests you) and you haven’t yet connected with anyone at Innovation Gateway, stop by the Delta Innovation Hub. The Innovation Gateway staff are happy to talk, and you might just open a whole new world of potential for you and your work. More importantly, you might just open a whole new world of potential for others whom your work advantages.

Karen J. L. Burg
Vice President for Research
Harbor Lights Chair in Biomedical Research