UF among nation’s leaders in startups, licensing and life-sciences tech transfer

November 30, 2015
Sara Dagen

Jaundice, chronic bronchitis, and other lung and liver problems are a daily struggle for the 1 in 2,500 Americans with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, a genetic condition that can cause serious lung disease in adults or liver disease at any age.

About 19 million people in the U.S. who do not have these symptoms carry the defective gene that causes this disorder and could pass the gene on to their children.

A University of Florida startup, Geneaidyx hopes to improve the lives of individuals with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency and their families by developing cutting-edge technologies to improve early detection. It’s one of 16 startups based on UF research discoveries launched by the UF Office of Technology Licensing in fiscal year 2014.

According to statistics recently released by the Association of University Technology Managers as part of its annual licensing survey, those 16 startups put UF eighth in the nation among leaders in life-science technology transfer, ranked among public and private institutions as well as systems such as the University of California and the University of Texas.

Breaking into the top 10 in two categories in the survey, UF also ranked seventh for licenses and options executed with 147. That statistic includes agreements completed by UF's Office of Technology Licensing and the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

UF also ranked among the most productive biomedical research universities in an analysis of the same data by the journal Nature.In the life sciences alone, UF ranked 10th  in licenses and options executed with 31, just ahead of Caltech and behind New York University, which topped the list by licensing revenue received.

These inventions are the result of a UF’s strong research base, which reached a record $707 million in fiscal year 2015.

“Our relationships with industry and other financial supporters are enabling our researchers to move new discoveries from the lab to the marketplace, where they are able to make a difference for society,” said David Norton, UF’s vice president for research. “While we are happy about our numbers, we are more excited about the impact those numbers have on the world around us.” 

Key to UF’s licensing efforts are startup companies like Genaidyx, which bridge the gap between lab and market for technologies that aren’t ready for commercialization by larger, established corporations.

In addition to the 16 startups launched in 2013-14, the university helped launch 15 more startups in the fiscal year that ended in June 2015.

”The birth of so many startups is indicative of the incredible environment the university and Gainesville provide for the innovation ecosystem,” said David Day, assistant vice president and director of the UF Office of Technology Licensing. “It takes facilities, capital and management plus talented people and organizations working together to successfully launch a startup. These companies are vehicles for bringing UF research into the marketplace.”

The Office of Technology Licensing was established in 1985 to work with inventors to facilitate the transfer of technologies created at UF to industry partners who turn the discoveries into products that are changing the world. Technology licensing staff work with UF faculty members who disclose an average of 300 new discoveries annually. In the past 14 years, UF OTL has launched more than 175 biomedical and technology startups. They include:

Applied Genetic Technologies Corp.  

AGTC uses gene therapy to develop long-lasting treatments for patients with genetic disorders. Gene therapy replaces broken genes with normal functional genes, allowing a patient’s own body to produce proteins to treat their illness. A single treatment provides long-lasting benefit – sometimes even for a lifetime - leading to a better quality of life for patients worldwide.

AxoGen

AxoGen Inc. seeks to provide surgeons with solutions to repair and protect peripheral nerves. The company has created and licensed a unique combination of patented technologies and has a rich pipeline of new products to change the standard of care for patients with peripheral nerve injuries.

Prioria

Prioria Robotics is an unmanned systems company dedicated to making unmanned aerial vehicles smarter. Prioria believes a smart UAV is more useful, more efficient and improves the lives of customers. The company delivers cost-effective and innovative solutions to civilian and commercial markets, and to the nation's military.

Shadow Health

Shadow Health is a multidisciplinary educational software developer of rich learning environments and digital clinical experiences. Using the Shadow Health digital clinical experience, educators increase clinical efficiency giving them more time to focus on student achievement. Shadow Health develops these educational environments to address the critical issues facing the national and global health care systems - maintaining quality of care in the face of increasing provider shortages.

Xhale

Xhale creates novel patient-centric monitoring solutions, from patient monitoring to medication adherence to anesthesia monitoring. Led by a highly experienced management team with a proven track record of success, the company is driven by quality, innovation and excellence.

See more UF startups at http://research.ufl.edu/otl/for-investors-and-entrepreneurs/engage-with-uf-startups.html.

Gator Good
UF Preeminence

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