2012 Fall Magazine
The official magazine magazine.
“The higher amount gives faculty members a greater incentive,” Bose explained. G E T T I N G S TA RT E D The traditional path for commercializing intellectual property project is to obtain a patent on an invention that could be marketable and then find a company to market the invention. A second model is for the university to create its own small company to market the new technology through a university spin-off, though Bose said it’s important to find people with the right skill set to handle the business aspects of these arrangements. Bose also is pioneering a new approach in technology transfer. His initiative involves UH also is working to establish a fund that could be used to further development of some research projects that may need a little extra help to reach their marketing potential. Mark Clarke, associate vice chancellor and vice president for technology transfer in the DOR, said this “gap-funding” program will be designed to help projects in their early stages of development with internal grants. Clarke said the grants could be used to help convert basic science into a working prototype, for example. He hopes the program will be in place early next year. Additionally, Bose also has established a program with the C.T. Bauer College of Business’ Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship in which students will help design marketing plans for intellectual property projects. Mark Clarke significantly boost efficiency and manufacturability of multi-junction solar cells compared to their conventional counterparts. “The technology has already enabled industry to manufacture devices with sunlight-to-electricity conversion efficiencies in excess of 40 percent and may become a technology of choice for utilityscale concentrator photovoltaics,” Freundlich said. “The technology is also of great interest to orbital space markets where the quest for higher efficiency solar cells remains an enduring paradigm for satellite designers.” “At UH, my research continues to feed into the innovation pipeline of this technology and my coworkers and I have recently devised several improvements and innovations that could further enhance efficiencies and have a game-changing impact on cost and manufacturability of solar photovoltaic systems,” Freundlich said. Freundlich said several companies have expressed interest in this intellectual property and UH is “pursuing discussions for the transfer of these technologies to the private sector.” embarking on a comprehensive analysis of all of UH’s patents that have not yet secured licensing agreements to determine which ones hold the most promise for commercialization. “We want to identify the most attractive intellectual property to develop,” Bose said. At the same time, Bose also is working on establishing a group of investors who could be tapped to create companies to commercialize these patents. “It’s a comprehensive plan to develop up to 10 new technologies,” he said, as opposed to focusing on one project at a time. “The students are going to have a lot of fun and gain real-world experience on this project,” Bose said. “We’re engaging our students.” Physics researcher Alex Freundlich is one of the UH researchers whose research is returning revenues to university coffers. Freundlich has had three of his patents licensed to industry, and in the past three years, those licensing agreements have generated revenues in excess of $300,000 for the university. These projects and others continue to fuel UH’s technology transfer efforts. “You have to continuously prime the technology transfer pipeline if you want to have growing intellectual property revenues. That is the advantage of having this revenue stream,” Clarke noted. “One thing to remember is that significant royalty revenues may take years to develop. You have to pay attention to what’s in the pipeline to create new revenues that will benefit UH.” H SOLAR SUCCESS Freundlich’s inventions are related to a “quantum well” technology that has been shown to F a l l 2 0 1 2 | UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON Ma gazine 13