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Ricardo Valerdi, right, accepts the #MadeItHappen award from Doug Hockstad. Photo: Tech Launch Arizona

Engineering Innovators Recognized at I-Squared Awards

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Engineering Innovators Recognized at I-Squared Awards

Sept. 29, 2023
Tech Launch Arizona honors BG Networks and Science of Sport, started by engineering faculty, for impact and #MakingItHappen.

At this year’s Tech Launch Arizona I-Squared Awards and Expo event, several awardees from the College of Engineering were honored. TLA, the office of the University of Arizona that commercializes inventions stemming from research, hosts the event to honor top inventors, entrepreneurs and community leaders.

“Research is a core strength at the University of Arizona, and we are always mindful of the need to move discoveries and innovations out into the world to make it a better place,” said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. “I find it gratifying and energizing to see the I-Squared honorees every year. They truly embody our ideals as an impactful research university.”

In the 11 years since the office opened, TLA has worked with over 2,700 University of Arizona invention disclosures, executed over 530 licenses for companies to take university inventions into the marketplace, and launched over 135 startups. In the past seven years, those startups have raised over $700 million. Through TLA, the UA has grown into a leader that other universities look to as a model for excellence and best practices in technology commercialization.

Startup of the Year: BG Networks

Jerzy Rozenblit head shot
Jerzy Rozenblit is part of the BG Networks team

The Startup of the Year award is given to the startup that has, in the past year, had the most impact or significant activity.  BG Networks was founded to commercialize cybersecurity inventions from the College of Engineering. This past year, the startup achieved a great milestone, releasing its second product, AnCyRTM (Anomaly Detection and Cyber Resilience), a host-based software anomaly detection technology based on UA.

The inventing team included professor emeritus of electrical and computer engineering Roman Lysecky and ECE distinguished professor Jerzy Rozenblit. Other inventors on the project comprised former graduate student researcher Nadir Carreon and Johannes Sametinger, a professor at Joannes Kepler University Linz in Austria.

“I was absolutely thrilled and honored to hear this unexpected and exciting news,” said Rozenblit. “This recognition further reinforces our commitment to transferring university-based research into the marketplace. TLA’s support has been indispensable in getting us off the ground.”

Lysecky was likewise excited about the honor, saying, “BG Networks is deeply honored to be recognized as TLA’s Startup of the Year. I’m delighted by the quick progress we have made in developing our research outcomes into a commercial product, which would not be possible without TLA’s support.”

#MadeItHappen: Science of Sport

TLA confers the #MadeItHappen award to highlight and acknowledge special achievements made by an individual or company. The brainchild of distinguished outreach professor and department head of systems and industrial engineering Ricardo Valerdi, Science of Sport provides programs for elementary and middle school students to improve their academic performance.

The nonprofit’s goal is to translate the familiarity of sports into an appreciation, understanding and passion for the underlying science and mathematics. Science of Sport accomplishes these goals through after-school programs, curriculum development, field trips, school visits, sideline chats, STEM showcases, summer camps and teacher workshops.

Today, the organization’s partnerships have expanded across the nation, where communities and professional sports have come together to promote education to advance educational opportunities for young people. While baseball was the initial focus, Science of Sport has expanded its curricula to football, basketball and soccer.

To date, Science of Sport has trained over 6,000 teachers and impacted the lives of over 600,000 students.

“The coolest thing about the New York Mets is that their name spelled backwards is: STEM. See how much fun that was?” quipped Valerdi. “That’s the goal of Science of Sport, to make math and science fun for everyone. UA has provided the ideal platform for Science of Sport to be successful: administrators who value the importance of commercialization and world-class softball and baseball programs. Batter up!”