Revolution. Upheaval. Metamorphosis.

These synonyms for “innovation” are an important reminder of the potential for a new method, idea or product to play a transformative role in our society.

While it’s tough to set an objective measurement for innovation and its potential impact, researchers consider patents a key indicator. By fostering the pursuit of intellectual property rights and encouraging commercialization, innovation drives business success and spurs the economy.

If patents are a critical metric, the Florida High Tech Corridor’s three research universities are setting the bar high. This year, the University of Central Florida (UCF), the University of South Florida (USF) and the University of Florida (UF) earned 218 patents, more than any other globally recognized centers of innovation – including the three universities of North Carolina’s Research Triangle and eight universities of the University of Texas System.

The results were released this June in the Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted U.S. Utility Patents in 2018 report published by the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) in partnership with the Intellectual Property Owners Association. Published annually since 2013, the report details patents issued to university inventors in the previous calendar year and recognizes the importance of patenting, licensing and commercialization in university research.

The NAI was created in 2010 in offices at the University of South Florida to recognize and encourage inventors pursuing intellectual property rights. Today, it celebrates more than 4,000 members and Fellows from more than 250 institutions who have been issued a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Patent success is a testament to the creative thinking and innovative spirit embodied by UCF, USF and UF and their partners, highlighting The Corridor region’s sustained growth as a high tech hub through continued innovation and technology transfer from universities to the marketplace.

These patents illustrate the types of intellectual property that placed UCF, USF and UF among the world’s top centers of innovation for the seventh consecutive year:


UCF: Cancer-Killing Agent (US10159706B2)

Spearheaded by Annette Khaled from the UCF College of Medicine, UCF researchers developed a patented biological agent that can be used to kill cancer cells, bacterial cells and other microbial cells. As a news release about UCF’s ranking on the Top 100 list describes, the biological agent includes a small protein (a peptide) that is encapsulated in a nanoparticle. The nanoparticle protects the peptide and enables delivery of the peptide to the target cells. Once delivered, the peptide ruptures the membranes (protective covering) of cells, causing the cells to die. This peptide can be used as a therapeutic agent to destroy cancer cells, as well as harmful bacteria and fungi. The technology is licensed to a startup company.

USF: Process for Converting Landfill Gas to High-Value Liquid Fuels (US10144878B1)

Inventors in the USF College of Engineering have created a process to convert the methane and carbon dioxide emitted from solid waste in landfills to high-value liquid fuels. Detailed in a news release about USF’s Top 100 ranking, the patented process has resulted in the startup T2C-Energy. T2C-Energy leverages this patent to create renewable fuel for jet and diesel engines – with no modifications to the engine required. The team received funding through The Corridor Council’s Matching Grants Research Program in 2014, which helped determine compatibility with landfill operators’ existing systems so they could scale the process to serve larger facilities. USF alumnus Devin Walker, T2C-Energy’s CEO, has been named one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30” for his work with the company.

UF: Communication and Skills Training Using Interactive Virtual Humans (US9978288B2)

Researchers in human-centered computing at UF developed a patented technology that enables nursing students to interact with lifelike, virtual patient avatars. The technology leverages its natural language processing algorithm to address communication gaps in the availability, presentation and standardization of educational experiences for health care professionals. Shadow Health, an educational technology spinoff from UF, licenses the technology to help nursing students prepare for clinical practice. By working with virtual patients, students develop communication and critical-thinking skills, and improve their assessment and treatment of various health scenarios.

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