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To celebrate achievements and innovation at the University of Idaho, leaders who worked on this year’s patent awards, patent applications and executed licenses were honored this week at the Innovations Awards.

“This is a special group of people who have spent years developing a unique idea that now is protected with a patent and/or licensed to a company,” says Gaylene Anderson, licensing associate, Office of Technology Transfer (OTT).

In addition to honoring University innovators, companies that have partnered with the University to bring the research into lives of the public were also celebrated.

“Quite often we need to partner with a company to help get technologies to the next stage,” says Anderson. “You never know who will be interested in which projects and how it will take off.”

Anderson says honoring innovators with awards is just one small way to recognize the hard work and time that goes into the patent and licensing process.

“It is one of the most rigorous of peer review processes that I know of,” says Anderson.

Part of the process that makes it so difficult is making sure no one else is working on something similar and sometimes industry is not ready for the technology yet.

The OTT helps University inventors through the sometimes long and expensive application process and connects them to businesses that may want to use the patent or create a spin-off company affiliated with the University.
Malli Rao and Scott Wood at the Innovations Awards night.

Anderson says the application process can get pricey – $20,000 - $50,000 – and can take three to five years to finalize.

Alumnus Malli Rao ’66, who received his doctorate in organic chemistry, also was honored during the awards night for his contributions in the research field.

A native of India, Rao joined DuPont in 1973 where he worked on a variety of industrial processes, with an emphasis in the area of catalysis. His contributions have led to improved processes for the manufacture of formaldehyde, methyl isocyanate, butanediol, tetrahydrofuran and alternatives to chlorofluorocarbons.

Rao holds more than 150 issued patents and is well known nationally and internationally for his work on CFC alternatives. He was inducted into the University’s Alumni Hall of Fame in 1999. He retired from DuPont in 2005 after achieving the highest technical position available – DuPont Fellow/Distinguished Scientist.

Patents issued to University researchers this year include reactive filtration to remove contaminants from wastewater, vaccines for diseases of fish, and a method and system for recovering metal from metal containing materials.

Applications for patents this year include chemically modified potato products, a soil stabilizing process to improve building foundations and an advanced accessible pedestrian system for signalized traffic intersections.

Faculty, staff and student research will be showcased today, Friday, Nov. 12, during a public reception from 2-4 p.m. in the Idaho Commons. 

 To read more about the Innovations Award, visit their site: www.uidaho.edu/research/innovations/innovationaward