June 22, 2021

Husker researchers propel NU to top 100 patents finish

UNL work featured in 27 of 38 patents awarded systemwide in 2020; NU at No. 77 overall

National and local guidance from health officials has allowed University of Nebraska–Lincoln officials to dial back COVID-19 protocols requiring mask use and social distancing on campus.

For the fourth consecutive year, the University of Nebraska system is ranked among the top 100 academic institutions worldwide in earning U.S. patents.

A newly released report from the National Academy of Inventors and Intellectual Property Owners Association lists the NU system as tied at No. 77. The ranking comprises patents granted in 2020 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to NU’s technology transfer offices: NUtech Ventures at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and UNeMed at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted the NU system 38 U.S. patents in 2020. Husker researchers are named on 27 of those patents, including five shared with UNMC and one shared with the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

“Our faculty again rank among the best at converting innovative ideas into real-world applications,” Chancellor Ronnie Green said. “This ranking is a wonderful reflection of Husker ingenuity and entrepreneurship at work, strengthening our economy and improving lives in Nebraska and around the globe.”

Earning patents allows NUtech Ventures and UNeMed to work with faculty, staff and students to bring research in areas like biotechnology, agriculture, healthcare, engineering and others to the marketplace. The result is new startup companies, jobs and university-licensed products that grow the economy and improve quality of life.

The report’s 2020 patents include novel drug technology developed by University of Nebraska–Lincoln scientists Paul Blum and Ben Pavlik, and engineer Kevin Van Cott. Blum is further developing the drug through his Lincoln-based startup company Neurocarrus, which aims to safely disrupt pain signals without the risk of addiction or other systemic effects. Another Husker team — including electrical and computer engineers, and animal scientists — is represented among the patents, with a precision technology system that helps livestock producers continuously monitor animals and use data to improve animal well-being.

The patent list also features sustainable technology, including an environmentally friendly method for producing isoprene — which could be used for wastewater treatment, biofuel production and bioproduct development. The technology was developed by Husker scientists Nicole Buan, Karrie Weber, Jared Aldridge and Sean Carr.

“This well-deserved honor is confirmation of the creativity and innovation of the University of Nebraska’s faculty,” said Ted Carter, president of the NU system. “I’m so proud of the collaborative spirit that has made this level of success possible. More than that, I’m proud that the work of our faculty changes lives for the better each and every day.”

Alongside services for patenting and licensing technology, NUtech Ventures also provides entrepreneurship programs for faculty, staff and students. The programs offer mentorship and startup company support, while covering topics such as customer discovery interviews, value propositions and target markets.

“As one of the world’s leading institutions for patenting research, we know that protecting innovation is important, but it’s also the first step,” said Brad Roth, NUtech Ventures’ president and executive director. “In addition to licensing technology to existing companies, we have expanded our entrepreneurship programs and startup company resources to empower Nebraska inventors and help them transform patents into products and services that impact society.”