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The number of patents awarded in a region is widely recognized among the indicators of an innovation economy’s success. Not only do patents represent the ingenuity of local talent, but also increased opportunities to generate a financial return on the valuable investment of resources that make these discoveries and inventions possible.

If this holds true, the 23-county Florida High Tech Corridor region has one of the strongest innovation economies globally, according to the latest rankings from the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) and the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) in the annual list released today of “Top 100 Worldwide Institutions Granted U.S. Utility Patents in 2020.”

The Corridor’s three world-class research institutions – the University of Central Florida (UCF), the University of South Florida (USF) and the University of Florida (UF) – collectively received 309 patents, earning more than 1.5 times the number of patents granted to other globally recognized centers of innovation, including North Carolina’s Research Triangle and the University of Texas System. This year’s result also represents a nearly 16% increase from the 267 patents received in 2019.

Individually, UF ranked 11th, USF ranked 15th and UCF ranked 60th. Each climbed the rankings list this year.

Learn more about the innovative work coming out of each university, as demonstrated by the patents detailed below.

Images courtesy of UCF Today and USF Research.

UCF: Methods and compositions for natural killer cells US 10463715

UCF Associate Professor of Medicine Alicja Copik and her team secured a patent for an immunity-boosting nanotechnology with implications as a therapy to fight off COVID-19 and other viruses attacking the human body. Originally developed as a blood cancer therapy, the nanotechnology stimulates the body’s natural killer (NK) cells, supercharging them to produce more NK cells with greater strength to attack and eliminate the virus and tumor cells.

Since pivoting to apply this technology in the fight against COVID-19, Copik received $9.5 million in funding from the Department of Defense and the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute’s (ARMI) BioFabUSA program. These funds supported the continuation of clinical trials in partnership with Kiadis Pharma – one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world – to test the technology on COVID-19 patients suffering from weakened immune systems. While testing its validity to combat COVID-19, the study will also show whether the nanotechnology protects high-risk patients from other respiratory infections.

USF: Portable wastewater treatment systems US 10875802

USF Engineering Professor Daniel Yeh, Senior Development Engineer Robert Bair and USF Engineering alumni Onur Ozcan, George Dick, Jorge Calabria and Matthew Woodham secured a patent for their portable system to filter and clean human wastewater, transforming it into nutrients, energy and clean water.

The NEWgenerator system utilizes an anaerobic reactor and membrane filter to clean the water and subsequently convert the byproducts into usable resources. Built into a shipping container for portability, the technology has been licensed by three international companies, which ware manufacturing the treatment system for distribution in India and South Africa. Additionally, Tampa startup BioReNEW, Inc. leveraged this technology in its effort to overcome sanitation challenges facing the U.S.

NEWgenerator has received numerous awards, including its most recent the 2020 Patents for Humanity Award.

UF: Joint fountain code and network coding for multiple-source-multiple-destination wireless communication US 10623082

UF Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Dapeng Oliver Wu, Ph.D. and UF graduate Kairan Sun, Ph.D. secured a patent for new technology that improves the efficiency of wireless data transfer and communication.

As the internet pervades our lives, there is an urgent need to alleviate internet traffic and optimize data transfer. Shifting from traditional wired networks and point-to-point transmission models, UF researchers created a specialized coding protocol for wireless mesh networks: multiple-output joint FoUntain coding and Network coding (MIMO FUN).

MIMO FUN more efficiently receives and packages data sent from one device to another, reducing the number of transmissions needed and improving overall bandwidth.

Industry partners interested in learning more about each university’s intellectual property and technologies available for licensing should contact the offices of technology transfer:

UCF: https://tt.research.ucf.edu/

USF: https://www.usf.edu/research-innovation/pl/

UF: https://innovate.research.ufl.edu/tech-licensing/

Industry partners interested in partnering with the universities to conduct research for commercialization are encouraged to explore The Corridor Council’s Matching Grants Research Program: https://floridahightech.com/innovation/research-grants/.

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