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Bama IP Commercialization Academy Hosts Inaugural Competition

December 20, 2022

The Bama IP Commercialization Academy, presented by the UA Office for Research and Economic Development (ORED) in partnership with the Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute (AEI) and Culverhouse College of Business, supports student teams and faculty inventors in the development of commercialization concepts for UA intellectual property (IP). 

The program provides UA faculty inventors with the opportunity to partner with STEM/CREATE MBA students who work to understand the IP and test commercialization ideas through the NSF I-Corps Site customer discovery process. The students then build a business model with the hopes of generating a startup company or licensing the IP in the marketplace.

“This event combined The University of Alabama’s faculty expertise with student talents to create new ideas for commercialization of UA owned IP,” said Dan Blakley, associate vice president for economic and business engagement. “I think it provided a great opportunity for students to learn how inventions are commercialized while also providing the university and faculty some interesting potential licensing opportunities.”

In phase one of the competition, held in September at the AIME Building, home to EDGE Labs, on campus, UA inventors introduced their inventions, and students brainstormed potential applications for them in the marketplace.  Teams were then formed based on mutual interest.

In phase two, teams participated in the NSF I-Corps Site program called Crimson Startup, a six-week course that teaches students how to create a business model canvas using the Lean LaunchPad model, which tests commercial applications using real customer discovery.  Teams were expected to have 15 conversations with potential customers per week.   

For the final phase, held on November 17 at The EDGE, each team delivered a pitch presentation that included a business model, financial projections, and prototype plans. They competed for three cash prizes. 

Capstone Chemical Company (3C) partnered with Dr. Jialai Wang and won $10,000 for their first-place finish. Dr. Ryan Summers’ team X-CALIBUR placed second winning $7,000.  In third place, Dr. Qiang Huang’s team Microtype Technologies won $4,000. Prize money was divided among student team members with a portion set aside for business and technology development activities.

“This is a very innovative approach to commercialization of a university’s IP,” said Dr. Rob Morgan, Director of the STEM/CREATE Paths to the MBA program and UA’s NSF I-Corps Site director.  “It leverages the strengths of UA’s research faculty, our strong and entrepreneurial students, and mentoring from a variety of UA on-campus and external experts.  I look forward to future iterations of the program as we make incremental improvements.”

Awards were funded by the Alabama Power Foundation Innovation and Talent Retention Fund.