U of Memphis to spread research value -Foundation to help market technologies and Tech Transfer
The University of Memphis has established a research foundation to help make it easier for faculty, students, the university and local
businesses to profit from the university’s wide variety of research.
Memphis Commercial Appeal
"We have been talking about this since I arrived at the university," said Dr. Shirley Raines, U of M president.
Jim Phillips, director of the university’s FedEx Technology Institute, said Thursday that when he came to work here in 2001, "I was
amazed that they had such a quality and quantity of research here."
University of Memphis faculty had about $29 million in research grants in 2002, which represents an increase of about 13 percent,
Dr. Ralph Faudree, university provost, said he expects university faculty to expand that number quickly over the next few years. The
University of Memphis Research Foundation should start operating by the spring semester of 2003.
Phillips said U of M could benefit from its intellectual property as much as the University of Florida has from Gatorade, a product
developed at that institution in 1965.
"I think there’s some incredible technologies that have a chance to generate wealth for the university," he said. "You need a research
foundation to be able to accomplish technology transfer."
Phillips cited as an example of marketable technology the university’s Institute for Intelligent Systems’s computer-aided education
system, called AutoTutor, which features artificial intelligence systems.
Faudree said, "The foundation’s assets are in the faculty."
Other types of intellectual property that deserve consideration include engineering, biology, biomedical devices, pharmaceuticals and the
products of faculty members in the humanities and social sciences, Raines said.
Michael Terry, president of EmergeMemphis, a technology incubator, said, "My experience is that in every center of teaching,
scholarship and intellectualism, there is plenty of unexplored and unexploited value."
Doris Kirby, executive assistant to the president for legal and internal affairs, will direct efforts to protect intellectual property such as
patents, copyrights and trademarks.
"We’re creating a focal point so the faculty knows there’s a place to go to get legal support," Kirby said. "Many of these resources were
already available, but were kind of scattered."
Having a research foundation should help the university keep top faculty and attract new talent and students, Faudree said.
"These research projects offer tremendous opportunities for students to get involved," Faudree said. "In partnership with businesses,
internships are always part of research and development."
Larry Henson, Memphis Regional Chamber vice president for research and information technology, said, "A sure way to keep our best
and brightest minds here at home is to allow them to share in the economic gains from their research."
Raines said the foundation ultimately will have an executive director, and expanding research funding should result in more jobs at the
university and in the surrounding community.
"This is a foundation we know will benefit the university, but we also think will benefit the community," Faudree said.
Carol Coletta, coordinator of the Memphis Regional Chamber’s Talent Magnet Project, said her project showed that investment in
higher education’s research and development capability "becomes an engine for talented knowledge workers."
"The creation of the foundation couldn’t come at a better time for this city," Coletta said.
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