UF among nation’s leaders in licensing, patents and startups

May 4, 2015

Imagine losing, in the prime of your working years, the ability to see, and all that encompasses. That is the reality for the 7.69 million Americans with diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness in adults. The number is projected to double by 2050, according to the National Eye Institute.

A University of Florida startup, Sentinel Diagnostic Imaging, hopes to improve outcomes for these patients through software developed by UF researchers. The software, called Oqulus, improves the precision and early detection of diabetic retinopathy and other diseases that threaten sight, such as age-related macular degeneration.

The UF Office of Technology Licensing helped to launch Sentinel Diagnostic Imaging in fiscal year 2013, along with 15 other startup companies based on UF research discoveries. According to statistics recently released by the Association of University Technology Managers as part of its annual licensing survey, the 16 startups launched that year put UF sixth in the nation, ranked among such institutions as the University of California and Texas systems.

Breaking into the top ten in three categories in the survey, UF ranked eighth for US patents issued (107) and seventh for licenses and options completed with companies commercializing researchers’ discoveries (140). That statistic includes agreements completed by UF's Office of Technology Licensing and the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

These inventions are the result of a record $702 million in research conducted at UF.

“We’re moving the cutting-edge research generated at the university from the laboratory to the market, where it helps people in their daily lives,” said UF Vice President for Research David Norton. “Outside the lab, these inventions can make the world a better place.”

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

While UF ranked sixth in the AUTM survey with 16 startups in 2012-13, the university helped launch 17 more startups in the fiscal year that ended in June 2014.

"A successful environment for startups requires an innovation ecosystem,” said OTL Assistant Vice President David Day, Director of OTL. “You need facilities, capital and management talent. It takes lots of different entities and organizations working together to make that happen. The university and Gainesville have fostered such an environment in which we can launch and grow the startup companies that ultimately bring UF research into the marketplace.”

Institutions surveyed by AUTM reported 43,295 active licenses and options, up 8.2 percent.

“While we are a numbers-driven society, it is important to note that some of the most important numbers are not actually captured in this survey,” says OTL Associate Director Jane Muir, immediate past president of AUTM and director of the Florida Innovation Hub, “It is difficult to quantify the impact of the many people whose lives have been improved or even saved as a result of new discoveries generated from university research.”

The Office of Technology Licensing at the University of Florida 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 generated from the more than $700 million in research annually.

In the past 12 years, UF OTL has launched more than 160 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 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 Robotics is an unmanned systems company dedicated to making UAVs 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™ (DCEs). Using the Shadow Health DCE, 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 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.