Funding the faculty
The University of Houston Technology Bridge exists to help transition university research and ideas into the marketplace, and now the UH System has gone one step further to aid in that transition process.
UH has announced a $2 million fund for faculty inventors who then could use the grants — estimated to range between $25,000 to $75,000 — to bring their invention to the commercialization stage. The fund, called the Chancellor's Technology Bridging Fund, was revealed on July 18.
"University faculty are working to solve some of the most critical problems of the day, from energy and the environment to medicine," says Renu Khator, chancellor of the UH System and president of UH, in a release. "It often requires an additional boost to get technologies from the lab to the commercial arena, and this fund is designed to help our faculty take that leap."
According to the release, UH officials plan to give out anywhere from four to 10 grants each year for the next five years.
The grants are intended to aid in the prototyping or product testing process, says Tom Campbell, executive director of the Office of Technology Transfer and Innovation in the UH Division of Research. He adds that usually that ideas in that stage of growth aren't usually granted basic research funding.
"The Technology Bridging Fund will fill a gap. It's really difficult to find funding at this early stage of development, and as a consequence, a lot of innovative concepts sit on the shelf," Campbell says in the release.
The fund directly aligns with the institution's goal of taking these UH-originated ideas, companies, and technologies and introducing them to the world, where they can be used by other companies.
"It's a way to de-risk these technologies and attract external interest," Campbell says in the release. "We want to move people and ideas closer to the market. Having access to this type of funding to do that can be extremely valuable."
Last year, UH transitioned its Energy Research Park into the Technology Bridge to better facilitate the growth for its innovators and research. The organization also works to bring in corporations that are looking to expand in Houston, and, earlier this year, two organizations set up shop in the Tech Bridge.
Earlier this year, a new ranking, new ranking, published by the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association, puts UH at No. 88 among the world's top 100 universities for patent activity in 2018. And, according to Campbell, UH will continue this patent growth.
"As the UH research portfolio grows and the medical school starts up, we would continue to anticipate a strong IP portfolio going forward for UH," Campbell tells InnovationMap in a previous article.