NUtech Ventures recognized University of Nebraska-Lincoln faculty at the 2018 Innovator Celebration on Nov. 6. The celebration features faculty who have worked with NUtech to commercialize promising new technologies, including faculty who have launched their own companies.
As the university’s nonprofit technology commercialization affiliate, NUtech evaluates, protects, markets and licenses intellectual property developed through Nebraska research activities — with the goal of promoting economic development and improving quality of life.
Brad Roth, NUtech executive director, opened the celebration, followed by remarks from Bob Wilhelm, vice chancellor for research and economic development, and Ronnie Green, chancellor.
“University researchers and innovators are doing pivotal work for the good of Nebraska and the world. They are providing innovative solutions to problems, enhancing quality of life and growing the state’s economy.” —Ronnie Green, chancellor
The Prem S. Paul Innovator of the Year award went to John Woollam, an internationally known expert in ellipsometry and a Nebraska faculty member since 1979. The award recognizes an individual who exemplifies innovation and entrepreneurship by advancing novel research into significant commercial use.
Woollam is the founder and president of the J.A. Woollam Co. The company is considered a worldwide leader in the production of spectroscopic ellipsometry instrumentation, which measures the properties of thin films — critical to electronics manufacturing and other industries. The company’s instruments and software are used in solar cells, energy efficient windows, smartphones and TVs.
The Breakthrough Innovation of the Year award went to Ben Terry, associate professor of mechanical and materials engineering. Terry and co-inventors developed a capsule-based mechanism that attaches to the gastrointestinal tract. The capsule can be used as a biosensor, providing real-time data monitoring and diagnostics, and has applications for drug delivery.
The Emerging Innovator of the Year award went to Bill Kreuser, assistant professor of agronomy and horticulture. Kreuser has created a software application, GreenKeeper, that helps turfgrass managers determine when to apply fertilizer and other turf products. He recently founded a company that provides services using the GreenKeeper app.
The Startup Company of the Year award went to Epicrop Technologies Inc., co-founded by Michael Fromm and Sally Mackenzie, former Nebraska researchers. The company has developed epigenetic technology to improve crop yields and resiliency, particularly in stressful weather conditions. The technology alters gene expression by adding to genes, not changing them — leaving unique crop variety traits unchanged.
The celebration also recognized researchers who received U.S. patents in fiscal year 2017-2018.