Innovators and entrepreneurs honored at reception
9:08 a.m., Feb. 9, 2012--More than 330 University of Delaware faculty, staff, and students are inventors, credited with innovation in areas ranging from fuel cells, solar power, and composites manufacturing to mobility assistance, drug delivery, and advanced body armor.
On Tuesday, Feb. 7, UD’s latest crop of inventors was honored at a reception at the Roselle Center for the Arts.
Popcorn and probability
“You and your inventions are UD’s seed corn,” said David Weir, director of the University’s Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships (OEIP). “We’re very proud to recognize you for your inventive ideas and celebrate the promise that these ideas will offer opportunities for economic growth and new partnerships for UD and the state.”
According to Weir, for the past four years, OEIP has been the portal through which innovation and entrepreneurship flow into and out of the University. “Very early on, it became clear that without you and your inventions, OEIP as a portal wouldn’t really reach its potential,” he said.
UD President Patrick Harker thanked Weir and his office for their work in developing an entrepreneurial ecosystem that stimulates creativity and supports inventors at all stages from discovery through commercialization.
In addressing the honorees, Harker said that one of the first emails he received when he joined UD in 2007 was from a chemical engineering student who wrote, “I don’t want to take a job; I want to make a job.”
“What you’re doing affects students and what they want to accomplish in their lives," he said to the inventors. “You are critical to a key University goalto make UD into a premier center of invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship. You’re essential to the culture of innovation we’re trying to build here, and through you, it will spread to fellow faculty and to students.”
With the Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) now a part of OEIP, and a strong partnership forming between OEIP and the General Counsel’s Office, UD has strengthened its business development skills, Harker said.
He pointed to a number of recent successes, including a business agreement with NRG Energy to commercialize grid-integrated vehicles and the development of two faculty-launched companies: Elcriton, led by Terry Papoutsakis, Eugene du Pont Chair of Chemical Engineering, and Evozym, led by Adam Marsh, associate professor of marine biosciences.
Student involvement in entrepreneurship and innovation has been stepped up at UD, Harker said, through a new Entrepreneurial Studies Program that includes a variety of academic programs and a student business incubator. He cited the case of a group of students that has received financial support from OEIP and is now negotiating a license to a UD patent, with the goal of starting up a business.
“While the processes and support systems we’re improving are important,” Harker said, “our success lies with people.”
Since its formation in 2008, under the direction of former DuPont vice president for research and development David Weir, OEIP has worked with the state, Delaware Technology Park, numerous researchers and companies in creating a culture where innovation and entrepreneurship can thrive in Delaware. During FY2011, UD inventors submitted 50 invention disclosures and were awarded 23 U.S. patents.
Article by Diane Kukich
Photos by Evan Krape