Sparks of new discoveries happen every day at Iowa State University. From hightech, digital ag sensors to human and animal vaccines, to the technology for recycling rare earth materials from electronic waste, these innovations provide tremendous opportunities for the Office of Innovation Commercialization to share them with the world.
This June marks two years since I arrived at Iowa State. What excited me most about this role is the collaboration between the ISU Research Foundation – which owns and manages intellectual property and inventions developed at Iowa State – and the Office of Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer, which works with industry partners and commodity groups on innovative solutions and product development. Bringing these two groups together under the Office of Innovation Commercialization is key to creating mutually beneficial external partnerships.
Iowa State has a strong history of commercializing the results of its research enterprise. You can find evidence of such in your grocery cart and in the palm of your hand—seedless watermelons and lead-free solder used in handheld electronics are just a few of the many Iowa State inventions directly or indirectly benefiting us all. We leverage programs such as the Iowa State Bioscience platforms and ISU Startup Factory to foster partnerships between researchers developing technology in their lab and existing companies or in new entrepreneurial venture creation.
At the same time, we are exploring new and growing existing relationships with industry partners such as John Deere, Merck, and Pratt & Whitney, to name a few. Our external partners appreciate the flexible solutions we offer and know we will deliver results because of our collaborative approach. Collectively, our team works on about 100 patent applications and 1,400 supporting agreements in a year.
We also are fortunate to have the Ames National Lab, the only U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located on the campus of a major research university. Lead-free solder ranks as Iowa State’s highest-grossing patent having generated nearly $60 million in royalty income before the patent expired in 2013. Ames National Lab researchers continue to develop advanced materials and processes critical for next-generation energy technologies and addressing other pressing environmental challenges.
As you can see, there is no shortage of opportunities. As stewards of industry-funded discoveries and innovations resulting from the university’s research portfolio, our team strives to be a trusted partner for proactive innovative solutions. We’ll continue supporting researchers and shining light on their innovative work for the benefit of Iowans and the world.