Seven companies that can trace their start back to the University of Illinois at Chicago are highlighted in a report released this morning designed to illustrate the importance of the federal government's investment in university research.
The report comes from the Science Coalition, a Washington-D.C. based nonprofit group that represents more than 50 of the country's leading research universities. The report showcases the various ways that federal investment in scientific research leads to new, successful companies that then create jobs and spur economic growth.
Universities were invited to provide examples of companies spun off from research initially done on their campuses, and the Coalition highlighted 100 of them in its report.
Of the 100, seven are from UIC — more than any other university — and two from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Two companies each got their start at Northwestern University and at the University of Chicago.
The companies featured in the report began with about $330 million combined in initial federal funding from such agencies as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
"Federal investment in basic research pays dividends every day through the creation of new ways of doing things, new products, new companies and new jobs," UIC Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares said in a statement.
UIC ranks 52nd among U.S. universities in the amount of federal research dollars it receives, with $249 million in 2011, according to the university.
The report comes at a time when federal funding for research and development is down, due in part to the budget sequestration that began in March, according to the report, entitled "Sparking Economic Growth 2.0: Companies Created from Federally Funded Research, Fueling American Innovation and Economic Growth."
The companies showcased in the report that can trace their beginnings back to research done at UIC include:
• Cell Habitats, Inc., a Woodridge, IL-based biomedical device company that focuses on the natural repair and regeneration of damaged tissue, including after a heart attack.
• ImmersiveTouch, a Westmont, IL-based company that creates simulators for surgical training. The simulators create a 3D operating environment that mimics a real surgical situation.
• Mobitrac, Inc, which has since been acquired by another company, developed software to manage a fleet of vehicles such as FedEx delivery trucks.
• OrthoAccel Technologies Inc, based in Houston, manufactures products to enhance dental care and orthodontic treatment.
While the companies have varied missions, they all got their start with federally-funded research that began at UIC, according to the report. OrthoAccel Technologies, for example, began with a $1.3 million grant awarded by the National institutes of Health to the then-director of UIC's Tissue Engineering Laboratory.
The researcher teamed up with students in the business school's "Technology Ventures" course, which offers MBA students a chance to work on projects with commercial potential. The end result was the invention of a medical device, Acceledent, which shortens the time a patient needs to wear braces.
"For decades, innovation has been fueled by federally funded research that is conducted at universities across our nation," University of Wisconsin at Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, an economist, said in a statement accompanying the report. "America's future economic prosperity depends on increased investments in research and education that will accelerate innovation and inspire future generations of scientists."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun