Creating Impacts Through Commercialization

Creating Impacts Through Commercialization

UNT Diving Eagle
February 14, 2022

UNT technology transfer focuses on all of the ways the university’s applied research can be commercialized to improve communities —  from financial successes to societal impacts.

By Amy Brundeen

UNT’s technology commercialization efforts are demonstrating that the university is a leader in applied research, making impacts far and wide. UNT researchers are approaching their work in new and creative ways and producing intellectual property that is making a difference for the world. UNT technology commercialization is exceeding peer institutions across the country for its impact, faculty served and licenses executed.

Read how a host of faculty who call UNT home are navigating a veritable maze of challenges and triumphs and arriving at potential solutions to some of today's most prevalent — and relevant — problems through a roadmap to research success.

Michael Rondelli, associate vice president for innovation and commercialization, and his team are working to help them see ways those ideas can reach broader audiences. The Research Commercial Agreements unit in the Division of Research and Innovation, which was formed in 2020, brings together a mix of servicing all research contracts with the university’s technology transfer function. This approach has broadened the number of faculty served and spurred disclosures of intellectual property from more research disciplines.

Continued Success

In FY 2021, UNT created 772 contracts including a record-setting 35 technology transfer licenses and earned 45 disclosures, far exceeding industry expectations and demonstrating how valuable UNT’s applied research is to the global community.

Rondelli also emphasizes that it is important to not only measure technology transfer with licensing income, but also by the reach of the research results and how they positively improve lives and solve difficult issues.

“We’re seeing research growth by leaps and bounds with impacts beyond STEM fields,” he says. “We’ve been working with faculty in music, in health and human services, and in criminal justice — all of our researchers make an impact on the community.”

Societal Impact

While some UNT research — like advances for microchips or manufacturing processes —  attracts industry partners for its commercial potential, researchers like those at the Center for Computational Epidemiology and Response Analysis (CeCERA) are working to address societal problems. Last year, CeCERA researchers adapted RE-PLAN, a cloud-based computer program originally designed at UNT to create emergency response plans for bioterrorism events involving anthrax or smallpox, into a tool to help ensure the equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. With the help of Research Commercial Agreements staff, they collaborated with Juvare, a leader in critical incident preparedness and response technology, to commercialize the program as a tool for state and local public health agencies. Other groups, including the U.S. Army, also are interested in the program for threats beyond COVID-19.

“We are proud to collaborate with UNT on bringing RE-PLAN to the market,” says Bryan Kaplan, Chief Information Officer at Juvare. “This technology provides the missing link public health agencies need to ensure all populations have access to the COVID-19 vaccine.”

A recent example of a commercial license outside of STEM is Bodies in Motion, a program produced by a grant from the National Collegiate Athletic Association that helps support positive body image in female college athletes. The program, developed by Trent Petrie and Dana Voelker in UNT’s Center for Sport Psychology and Athlete Mental Health, was first offered free of charge for the 2020-21 athletic season as the pandemic was shutting down athletics nation-wide. Now universities are signing three-year licensing agreements to use the program.

“Body dysmorphia affects many women athletes,” Rondelli says. “Our society does not spend a lot of time worrying about women’s health issues. Trying to bring equity to our entire population really fits with the mission and character of UNT. We’re an inclusive campus that cares. Everyone’s life matters here and our research is showing that.”