Public Affairs

February 21, 2014

Regents’ meeting highlights commercialization of UA research

For Immediate Release

Research relevant to Alaska, and the importance of transferring that research into the private economy, dominated the two-day University of Alaska Board of Regents meeting that wrapped up in Fairbanks today.

Regents were impressed by a presentation by the University of Alaska Fairbanks on Arctic-focused research ranging from discoveries of polar dinosaurs on the North Slope and the university’s digital mapping used by government agencies and the private sector, to climate change planning and research important for oil spill response. UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers noted that UAF researchers lead in publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals on Arctic issues not only nationally, but also throughout the world. Other scientists, in turn, cite UAF researchers on arctic issues more than those from any other university, research institute or government agency in the world.

Regents also heard a presentation on UA’s efforts to commercialize intellectual property, an area of tremendous growth within both UAF and UAA.  

At UAA, for example, invention disclosures have increased from 3 in 2011 to 32 today. Patents have grown from 1 in 2011 to a dozen today, said Helena Wisniewski, vice provost for research and graduate studies at UAA.   Four patents were issued in 2013, compared to only 1 in 2011. In addition, two start-up companies were formed in 2013, Wisniewski said.

UAF’s record is impressive as well. Dan White, director of UAF’s Office of Intellectual Property and Commercialization, told regents that 73 invention disclosures were filed in 2013, with 26 so far in 2014. Seven patents were filed in 2013, with seven filed so far this year.  

The point of these efforts is to take university research with commercial viability and turn it into beneficial economic development in the state, White and Wisniewski said.

The board also approved resolution in support of the State Committee on Research’s Science and Technology Plan. The plan sets out, for the first time, a collaborative road map for the future of Alaska science and technology development. Partners include UA, the State of Alaska, federal agencies, communities and the private sector. The plan can be found at:  
http://www.alaska.edu/files/bor/Feb2014/140220Add08_2014_AK_Science_Tech_Plan.pdf

In other business, the board approved:

  • Two timber sales for selective, helicopter-based harvesting in Southeast Alaska near Petersburg, totaling about 1,000 acres;
  • A merger of the School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences with the Cooperative Extension Service at UAF;
  • Schematic design for a pedestrian overpass spanning Providence Drive, linking the Health Sciences Building to the under-construction Engineering and Industry Building at UAA;
  • Two budget amendments—one to the current year’s budget due to fuel and utility increases, and one for the FY15 budget, due to a contract agreement with the United Academics union and utility increases.

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For more information: Kate Ripley, 907-460-1442 or klripley@alaska.edu

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