Creating Pathways to Impact
The University of Oklahoma is a driving force in economic impact, providing tools and resources for commercializing innovation, and preparing the next generation of citizen leaders of our state and nation for success in a knowledge-based global society.
The Office of Technology Development (OTD) supports university researchers in protecting their intellectual property, and works with industry to find the best path to the commercial marketplace, including playing a critical role working with Oklahoma-based start-ups that spin out of OU.
In the last 20 years, OTD has evaluated more than 1,500 pieces of innovation, filed more than 2,200 patents, licensed 170 technologies, and launched 35 companies.
OU Research In Action
When heavy rainfall and flooding trapped a Thai boys’ soccer team in a cave during the summer of 2018, Norman-based Weather Decision Technologies (WDT) was enlisted to aid in the rescue. Experts in weather risk mitigation, WDT used weather forecast software developed through OU’s Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies and licensed from OU to provide rescuers accurate rainfall predictions to plan critical mission timing.
University Spin-Out Selexys Acquired by Novartis
In late 2016, Novartis announced its up to $665 million acquisition of Selexys Pharmaceuticals Corp., a start-up developed by three OU faculty members and based on OU Health Sciences Center research in inflammatory diseases.
Pure Protein Partners with AbbVie
Pure Protein, a portfolio company of Emergent Technologies, Inc., began a research and license agreement with AbbVie biopharmeceuticals in January 2017. This partnership will facilitate the further development of innovative immunooncology therapies to help fight cancer.
"OU provides a tremendous environment that encourages academic growth and innovation. OTD has positioned itself to equitably evaluate new OU technology and to move the most promising technology forward for the benefit of mankind."
- Dr. William Hildebrand, Chief Scientist & OU Professor of Microbiology & Immunology
Moleculera Labs Improves Lives
Using The Cunningham Panel™, Oklahoma City-based Moleculera Labs is improving the lives of children and families across the nation. The panel, which is based on the research of OU Health Sciences Center Professor of Microbiology & Immunology Dr. Madeleine Cunningham, identifies infection-induced autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders such as PANS and PANDAS – an important step in families seeking effective treatment.
According to Moleculera Labs, neuropsychiatric disorders are those illnesses that have both neurological and psychiatric features. Millions of children and adolescents in the United States are impacted by a mental health condition. In fact, more than 17 million children in the U.S. currently have or have had a psychiatric disorder.* That’s more than all pediatric cases of cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined.
*Source: Child Mind Institute, Children’s Mental Health Report, 2015
Launching Initiatives to Spark Success
Recent commercial successes have expanded opportunities for support to campus inventors, as well as enhanced opportunities for commercialization.
An initiative to spark University innovation, the Office of Technology Development’s Growth Fund strengthens the commercial potential of University research and intellectual property by providing short-term funding for commercially-focused research and prototyping.
Available to all faculty, staff, and graduate students on OU’s three campuses, this program allows researchers to bridge the gap between academia and industry by providing up to $75,000 in funding to answer market-driven questions. The competitive process requires applicants to provide market feedback, demonstrate a need/demand for the innovation, outline a path to commercialization, and “pitch” the plan to a committee of research and entrepreneurship experts.
Over the last seven years, we've reinvested over $850,000 into translational research to help promising innovation reach the market.
Post-Graduate Venture Fellowship
The Venture Fellowship program for post-graduate and post-doctoral students provides hands-on entrepreneurial education and experience working on the advancement of early stage University assets towards commercialization. Using many aspects of the I-Corps methodology, the Venture Fellowship allows these researchers to develop a reliable Business Model Canvas, to network and establish valuable industry mentorship, and ultimately, to gain the skillset, mindset, and connections necessary to start a successful small business around their OU innovation.
This fellowship builds entrepreneurially-minded researchers, with the specific aim of engaging researchers early in their career. The Fellowship builds local entrepreneurial talent, empowers researchers to advocate for and move their innovation to market, and provides the state of Oklahoma a means to retain its best and brightest.
Through extensive customer discovery, thorough exploration of the business model, and substantive education on the business of science, Venture Fellows are able to determine the best path to commercialization (University spin-out, external licensing, etc.) while performing additional market-driven research and discovery to refine their innovation.
"I joined the Venture Fellowship program for the opportunity to take science and turn it into a commercially-viable business. We have conducted over 100 interviews with customers, key partners, and competitors... and have gained insight into how we need to shape our product to fit the current market need. Our confidence in what we are pursuing continues to grow and we are excited to see where this road takes us."
- Blake Hopiavuori, Ph.D.
Venture Fellow Blake Hopiavuori pitching at BIO Startup Stadium in June 2018.
"The Venture Fellow Program provided the unique opportunity to establish a strong business development background and an entrepreneurial mindset to build upon the stellar scientific training we received as graduate students here at OU. The combination of these traits will be invaluable to us in the future as we strive for commercial success as a part of the larger Oklahoma City bioscience community."
- Dustin Masser, Ph.D.
Celebrating after a successful summer 2017 NSF I-Corps.
Networking at the 2017 BIO International Convention in San Diego.