It’s Been a Dynamic Year for Mizzou Innovators, Creators and Startups
On Oct. 16, MU celebrated faculty inventors who received 40 patents, founded five startup companies and licensed a wide range of technologies to companies in FY19. The Beyond Innovation event, held at Memorial Stadium, also featured guest speakers Ethan Brown, founder and CEO of Beyond Meat, and Robert Duncan, a board member of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).
Duncan, President’s Distinguished Chair in physics at Texas Tech University and former Vice Chancellor for Research at MU, kicked off NAI’s 10th anniversary with a new public awareness campaign video “From Campus to Commerce.”
“MU is being recognized for its forward-thinking ambition and advancing university economic engagement,” said Alexander Cartwright, MU Chancellor and NAI Fellow. “Thank you to our faculty inventors … for the curiosity that spurs your research, and for your continued work to improve people’s lives all over the world.”
NAI chose to partner with MU because of a campus culture that supports the development of early-stage innovations attractive to entrepreneurs, companies and investors.
For example, Brown laid much of the groundwork for Beyond Meat's success when he teamed up with Mizzou bioengineers Fu-Hung Hsieh and Harold Huff and Technology Advancement Office (TAO) professionals.
A purveyor of plant-based protein options founded in 2009, Beyond Meat is flourishing today with products sold in more than 53,000 grocery stores, restaurants, hotels and other locations. Most recently, Dunkin’ announced that its 9,000 U.S. restaurants would sell a Beyond Meat breakfast sandwich after highly successful product testing this summer. Beyond Meat became a public company when it made an initial public offering on Nasdaq May 2, more than doubling its value during the first day of trading on Wall Street.
“We’re trying to fundamentally change how people consume protein,” Brown said. “I’m very proud of my association with Mizzou, where values are right and integrity really matters.”
In FY19, Mizzou signed 61 license and option agreements with companies, generating $6.6 million in income. Patents were issued in areas ranging from biotechnology and therapeutics to medical devices and engineering solutions.
Often the rights to an invention are licensed and in the hands of consumers long before associated U.S. patents are issued. Created in 2013, Foresite Healthcare offers products for hospitals and senior living communities that incorporate an integrated sensor network and risk assessment algorithms invented by nine MU researchers. The technologies, which were patented just this year, alert caregivers about changes in an elderly person’s gait and activity patterns as possible indicators of physical and cognitive health problems. In December, the company received a $2 million investment from Stanley Healthcare, a major distributor of Foresite products.
Faculty inventors also create their own startup companies based on MU-licensed technologies. Five companies were founded in FY19: Intelligent Respiratory Devices LLC, technology to automatically control oxygen levels in premature infants; Oncogen LLC, nanoparticle platform that delivers chemotherapeutics to cancer tumors; Peridot Films LLC, the license and copyright holder for the independent film Peridot; Plasmadigm LLC, advanced applications for self-confining atmospheric plasmas; and Quetza LLC, data-driven, interactive software applications for the animal sciences.
“MU is committed to being among the very best when it comes to converting the products of our research and scholarship into innovations that will improve people’s lives,” said Mark McIntosh, Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development. “We are fortunate to have one of the best Technology Advancement Offices in the nation, and the licensing professionals who help faculty disclose discoveries and pursue patents, are second to none.”
In September, Lisa Lorenzen, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Technology Advancement, began leading university efforts to leverage the commercial potential of research innovations. Lorenzen most recently served as both executive director of the Iowa State University Research Foundation and director of the Office of Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer at Iowa State. Under her leadership, the number of inventions that faculty disclosed rose 40% and license agreements increased by 33%. Now Lorenzen plans to grow those numbers at Mizzou. The numbers, however, are only a small part of the story.
“The larger goal is for TAO to provide quality services to researchers and industry partners – to facilitate ways for the new knowledge they create and develop to benefit society,” Lorenzen said. “It’s an important part of our mission as a land-grant, public university.”
Last Updated: October 22, 2019