Business & Economy Science & Technology

UGA again ranks in the Top 5 for new products to market

A plant specimen growing in a vial. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

For the eighth straight year, the University of Georgia has placed among the top U.S. universities for number of commercial products created from its research by industry partners. This year, UGA ranked No. 2 in the latest survey data provided by the organization AUTM.

AUTM, formerly known as the Association of University Technology Managers, supports research commercialization activities among universities and other research institutions. For the past four years, UGA has been ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 for new commercial products brought to market by industry partners. In each of the eight years AUTM has collected data for this metric, UGA has placed in the Top 5. The new report is based on data from fiscal year 2020.

“Year after year, UGA performs well in helping industry develop new products because we have such a range of research strengths across the university enterprise,” said Karen Burg, vice president for research. “This breadth of application, in combination with a real depth of expertise among our faculty and students, is one of the university’s greatest strengths when it comes to partnering with business to address real-world needs and challenges.”

UGA’s total of 59 new commercial products in fiscal 2020 was actually greater than the number (53) it helped produce in fiscal 2019, which earned it that year’s top ranking. Among those 59 products were new poultry vaccines, software to assess muscle function, click-chemistry protein-labeling kits, research and educational tools, and new wheat, blueberry, and ornamental plant varieties.

“Being ranked among the top universities in the U.S. underscores the innovative research conducted by UGA faculty, staff and students and also highlights our robust commercialization program,” said Derek Eberhart, associate vice president for research and executive director of Innovation Gateway, which manages research commercialization for UGA. “Commercialization of university research to improve lives and promote economic development is integral to UGA’s land-grant mission.”

For nearly two decades, UGA’s research commercialization activities have placed it among the country’s leaders, according to AUTM’s report. In the 2020 report, the No. 2 ranking is only the most notable among a list of robust (and long-running) UGA metrics. Others include:

  • Top 10 among all U.S. universities for deal flow and active licenses (14 straight years)
  • Top 20 among U.S. public universities for licensing revenue (17 years)
  • Top 20 among U.S. public universities for total active startup companies (18 years)

These numbers—and the campus-wide innovation in UGA research that lies behind them—are a big reason why UGA launched its Innovation District initiative in 2019. The district is intended as an externally recognizable landing place for faculty and student investigators who want to commercialize their research activities, and for industry partners who can help both individual technologies and UGA startup companies reach the market more quickly.

“This ranking reflects the many strong alliances that exist between our university and industry partners across the state and nation,” said Kyle Tschepikow, executive director for business engagement and innovation.  “Through the Innovation District, we are building new pathways for companies to connect with our talented faculty and students to address business challenges and opportunities. This is an exciting time to be part of the UGA innovation ecosystem.”

As UGA welcomed its community back to campus this fall, the Office of Research has ramped up educational activities in the Innovation District to help UGA investigators learn more about research commercialization and get started on their own goals. Innovation Gateway’s startup program is hosting a series of events in its new Innovation Hub building that cover everything from a conversation with Double Dawg alumnus Marty Moore, co-founder of Meissa Vaccines (Oct. 22 at 11 a.m.); to a Nov. 1 showcase of UGA’s latest I-Corps cohort; to a Nov. 4 panel discussion with startup investors who will talk about their evaluation process for company pitches, to name just a few. All events are free and open to the public; registration is required.

“The breadth and quality of research and scholarship at the University of Georgia creates tremendous opportunities for industry engagement and the formation of startups,” said S. Jack Hu, the university’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “Our latest AUTM ranking and thriving Innovation District underscore our commitment to translating discoveries into economic impact.”