Miami University's College of Engineering and Computing lab

New collaborations increase opportunities for commercialization

Scott Hartley supervises the work of graduate students in his lab.
A new agreement will soon bring together Miami faculty and students with AFRL and industry researchers.

Miami University is currently re-casting technology commercialization efforts. While traditional technology transfer has been the focus in the past, the focus moving forward will be on a more collaborative business partnering model. This model will create connections to early-stage and established businesses on research and development efforts. Two recently announced collaborations — between Miami University and the Wright Brothers Institute and between Miami and the University of Dayton — are among the first steps to implementing the new model.

Miami University-AFRL Research Technology Commercialization Accelerator

Miami University and Wright Brothers Institute of Dayton will work together to identify technologies from an Air Force Research Lab portfolio of more than 1,000 patents that have potential commercial use for public good.

The agreement creates the Miami University–AFRL Research Technology Commercialization Accelerator. This collaboration gives Miami support in reviewing and accessing the lab’s entire open portfolio of patents and patent applications.

The patent portfolio mimics the breadth of AFRL research programs. Technological advances that include innovations in energy storage, healthcare monitoring, and advanced manufacturing go far beyond military sciences.

Miami will create and lead programming to connect those technologies with entrepreneurs, funding, and other resources needed to bring the technologies to market.

“This agreement is a significant step in Miami University’s evolution into being an entrepreneurial university,” said President Greg Crawford. “It will provide great learning experiences for our students in entrepreneurship, science, engineering and intellectual property law.”

It will also open up opportunities for research collaborations between Miami and the Air Force Research Lab.

Wright Brothers Institute assists the Air Force Research Lab, headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, with technology transfer, interactions with the community, workforce development and innovation. It works hand-in-hand with the lab to commercialize Air Force-developed technology; to establish collaborations with regional, state and national entities; and to provide innovative solutions to complex technical and organizational problems.

“We are very excited about this partnership. Miami has access to state, research, alumni and student resources that are critical for building a commercialization ecosystem,” said Les McFawn, executive director of Wright Brothers Institute.

The Air Force Research Lab employs more than 5,700 researchers and scientists who execute a $5 billion annual budget on behalf of the United States Air Force. The research lab spends more than $550 million in Ohio, with a majority going back into the Dayton region. Nearly $12.5 million goes to Ohio academia, $260 million toward small business and the remainder to industry.

Work done within the Air Force Research Lab has contributed to significant advancements in modern communications, electronics, manufacturing, and medical research and products available to the public.

For example, Polybenzimidazole fiber, used in firefighters’ gear, space suits and welders’ gloves, was developed by the research lab.

There are many more opportunities for development with the 1,000-plus patent portfolio that Miami’s faculty, students and the Wright Brothers Institute can help bring to the marketplace through connections within the business community.

As early as spring semester 2018, Miami will incorporate patent review, technology exploration, and potential business plan development into its entrepreneurship curriculum.

At the same time, the institute will conduct commercial opportunity analyses and facilitate key connections within the Air Force Research Lab and the community to nurture the accelerator.

A key feature of the accelerator is that it brings together students with different academic majors from across the university.

Wright Brothers Institute is a non-profit innovation institute that provides breakthrough solutions to the Air Force Research Laboratory’s most complex problems. WBI has been a Partnership Intermediary to AFRL since 2003 and actively supports Headquarters AFRL and the four Technology Directorates located at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, OH.

University of Dayton

To serve Southwest Ohio more efficiently, Miami University and the University of Dayton have entered into a shared services agreement for technology transfer activities.

The agreement leverages resources of the University of Dayton to provide support for patent exploration and other areas of development and commercialization for Miami research.

“This agreement allows us to streamline operations to avoid the duplication of processes and infrastructure within the Dayton region,” said Jim Oris, associate provost for research and scholarship at Miami.

In addition, Miami and the University of Dayton have submitted a joint request to the state for matching funds to create a technology validation and startup fund. The state funds would come from Ohio Third Frontier, which is committed to transforming the state’s economy through the accelerated growth of diverse startup and early-stage technology companies.

If funded, the proposed Miami University-University of Dayton tech validation and startup fund will invest in advancing technologies at both institutions that can be further developed into products by startups and other young companies in Ohio.

Together with a recently-announced collaboration between Miami and the Wright Brothers Institute to commercialize Air Force Research Laboratory-developed technology, these collaborations between Miami and the University of Dayton enhance the capacity for technology development and the startup ecosystem in the region.

The University of Dayton Research Institute is a national leader in scientific and engineering research. Its professional researchers provide support in a variety of technical areas, ensuring customer success by delivering affordable and innovative solutions, leading-edge technologies and outstanding service. The institute leverages the expertise of faculty and students, along with its partners in academia, government and industry, to address unique technical challenges and help the university fulfill its commitment to education, research and public service.

Photos by Jeff Sabo, Miami University Photo Services.

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