Faculty and staff at all Indiana University campuses and academic centers immediately and expertly respond to challenges that impact the lives and livelihoods of people around the world. They are proving their mettle again, responding to the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic by disclosing their inventions to the IU Innovation and Commercialization Office.
IU ICO officials had received 44 invention disclosures between March 1 and June 5. Thirteen of those disclosures, or 29.5 percent, are directly related to the novel coronavirus and/or COVID-19. Nine faculty and staff made their first disclosures to IU ICO during that time, four as lead inventors and five as co-inventors. IU ICO is tasked with the protection and commercialization of technology emanating from innovations by IU researchers.
One of the disclosed inventions is Fold-a-Face mask designs based on origami techniques. Jiangmei Wu, an assistant professor of interior design in the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture and Design at IU Bloomington, created a design that is folded from a single sheet of material and can be packed flat for easy carrying. Wu has been featured in The New York Times, Indianapolis Monthly and The Herald-Times. Watch a video online.
Another of the disclosed inventions is V.Dox Technology, a proprietary dot-matrix pattern of embedded microcell batteries that creates an electric field and wirelessly generates a low level of electricity when moist. Chandan K. Sen, director of the Indiana Center for Regenerative Medicine and Engineering at the IU School of Medicine, reported that coronaviruses are killed by exposure to the electroceutical fabric, which is being commercialized by Vomaris Inc. Watch a video online.
A third disclosed invention is a new diagnostic tool that not only detects coronavirus in a sample, but also identifies which strain it is. Sarath Janga, an associate professor of bioinformatics and data science in the School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI, invented the tool. It can be used at point-of-care in a clinic, rather than requiring samples to be transferred to a lab for analysis, reducing both the time required and the risk of more infection.
Connecting with IU ICO
IU ICO works closely with IU faculty and students to understand the commercial potential of their inventions and the researchers’ goals for their technology. After an initial triage of new disclosures, IU ICO works with the inventors to devise a commercialization plan for innovative discoveries. This may involve protecting the invention through patent or copyright registration, identifying potential licensees, marketing the technology and then negotiating an agreement that will ensure the development of the technology for consumer benefit and societal impact.
“Indiana University researchers and entrepreneurs have a long history of driving scientific innovation that impacts global progress that plays a key role in enhancing the well-being of Indiana residents and the Indiana economy,” said Simran Trana, associate vice president of IU ICO. “The university’s legacy remains strong today, with the way faculty have risen to respond the unprecedented challenge presented by COVID-19. IU ICO understands the immediacy of the situation, and our commercialization managers are in active discussions with licensees to take the above-mentioned technologies to market in the shortest possible time frame to provide solutions in this time of need.”
IU faculty and staff can disclose inventions to the IU ICO online or by email. Once received, an invention disclosure is assessed for whether it requires intellectual property protection how it compares to comparable technologies on the market, if any; and other factors. If there is commercial potential, the next step in the commercialization process is to secure legal protection and seek to license the technology to an established company or a startup.