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Two programs based in the same building on the University of Arkansas at Little Rock campus help transform lab research into marketable technology that can generate costs and jobs.
The latest of the two is Lab2Launch, a virtual accelerator operated by the Arkansas SME Technology Development Center. It teaches companies how to apply for federal grants to fund research and development with potential for commercialization.
The other is TechLaunch, a university office that helps faculty and students commercialize inventions for free.
According to ASBTDC Innovation Specialist Rebecca Todd, Lab2Launch is the average success of the various federal agencies that guide and award companies towards “very competitive” SME innovation research and SME technology transfer grant programs. The rate is 20%.
The goal of free corporate accelerators is to increase state-wide grant application submissions, especially from regions that have not had high submission rates in the past.
So far, 16 companies from all over Arkansas have participated in Lab2 Launch, Todd said. “Last year, 80% of the participants in our Accelerator Cohort submitted SBIR / STTR Phase I applications, and the rest decided to target future deadlines,” she said. “In many cases, companies need to evaluate the feedback they receive in their first proposals and resubmit more competitive proposals in response to those initial criticisms. SBIR / STTR Phase I Award Winners There are currently two accelerator graduate companies awaiting the final award decision from their respective funding agencies. “
Lab2Launch was launched in January 2020 and was designed to be virtualized before the pandemic to reach every corner of the Arkansaw. Each accelerator also has a focus.
Last year, Lab2Launch companies worked to apply for funding from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. The next accelerator will begin in June and will focus on NIH and the USDA.
The program is held twice a year and is limited to six corporate teams, eight weeks a week. They will be introduced to the SBIR / STTR program and will complete their homework weekly to meet the submission deadline. In addition, they share their experiences with each other.
“It helps participants share lessons learned with the group and support their peers,” Todd said. Guest speakers will accompany you.
Tech Launch was founded in 2006 under a different name, but “the brand name was changed in 2014 to more accurately represent the goals of this office. Literally, researchers bring technology to market. We want to help you get it, “said Brian Berry, Vice President of Research and Dean of the Graduate School.
He said the federal government spends billions of dollars on college research each year, but researchers aren’t familiar with business.
Many of them don’t know how to start a company, apply for a patent, set a license, or make sure that enough technology is developed to enter the market. TechLaunch will intervene and assist you.
The office has one full-time employee, Intellectual Property and License Manager Glediana Rexha. But Berry said he was considering hiring a second person as he would soon be part-time to pursue an opportunity with NuShores Biosciences LLC, one of the university’s five spin-off companies.
In the spin-off, UA Little Rock will receive royalties and license fees when the University of Arkansas system owns the intellectual property associated with the researcher’s product and the product is commercialized, Berry said.
In addition, he said there are several ways to measure the success of TechLaunch.
According to Berry, the firm holds 54 valid US patents and 10 international patents, and has applied for 62 provisional patents in the last five years. In addition, 78% of its patent portfolio is licensed. That is, it is used by businesses.
But Tech Launch spends more than $ 200,000 a year to do what it does, more than returning from royalties and license fees, Berry said. But he believes the investment will ultimately pay off.
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