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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI recognizes 70 faculty, staff, students for patents, intellectual property

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

Steps being taken to accelerate commercialization process

KINGSTON, R.I. – February 27, 2014 – The University of Rhode Island and the URI Research Foundation yesterday celebrated the innovative research and scholarly activity of 70 faculty, staff and students whose discoveries are in the process of being commercialized through patents, trademarks and licensing agreements. Efforts are underway to accelerate the process of commercializing these and other intellectual property developed on campus.

In 2013, six patents and one trademark were issued to URI researchers, and an additional 30 patent applications were filed. And more than 100 licensing and other legal agreements were signed with companies to use URI inventions and ideas, more than double the number from a year ago.

During the past three years, a total of 28 patents were issued and 3 trademarks were registered, compared to 30 patents in the previous six years. In 2014, six patents have already been issued and allowed for URI inventions.

“One of my goals here at the University of Rhode Island is to help revitalize the Rhode Island economy, and one way we can do that is by commercializing the research conducted by URI faculty,” said URI President David M. Dooley. “Every day our faculty, staff and students are working on projects that may result in the creation of start-up companies or technologies that can benefit existing businesses. This will continue to be a primary focus in the coming years.”

“In recent years we have placed a greater emphasis on the commercialization of intellectual property and creating economic development, and those efforts are clearly showing promise,” added Gerald Sonnenfeld, URI vice president for research and economic development and president of the URI Research Foundation. “We’ve launched new efforts to work with companies to develop products created by URI intellectual property, and product development revenue has doubled each year since 2011.”

Among the patents issued in 2013 were two for a biomedical electrode invented by Walt Besio, associate professor of biomedical engineering, whose device monitors brainwave activity and can be used to detect life threatening events and potentially stop acute seizures. It dramatically increases the resolution and signal over conventional electrodes. Besio has formed a medical device company, CREmedical, to refine development of the electrode.

URI has taken several steps in the last year to speed the process of creating new inventions, start-up companies and jobs for Rhode Island. A revised intellectual property policy was approved by the Rhode Island Board of Education in 2013 that has made it easier and provided more incentives for faculty, staff and students to form companies using their inventions. CREmedical is one of the first licensees granted under the new policy, and four other companies are in the process of being formed as a result of the policy.

In addition, the University has expanded its role in job creation and economic development with the establishment of its Business Engagement Center and by becoming the host of the Rhode Island Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the state’s Small Business Development Center. The Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which supports Rhode Island manufacturers in their efforts to develop products and markets, will help to accelerate the transfer of technologies developed at URI into the marketplace.

“URI faculty, staff and students are now playing a broader role in working with local companies, partners and institutions to bring new opportunities and growth for the people of Rhode Island,” said James Petell, URI associate vice president for intellectual property and economic development.

Pictured above
URI Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering Walt Besio (center) is honored by URI College of Engineering Dean Raymond Wright and Gerald Sonnenfeld, URI Vice President for Research and Economic Development, for receiving two patents for his research in 2013. Besio was one of 70 faculty, staff and students recognized at URI’s annual Intellectual Property Awards Ceremony.