Tech Launch Arizona, the office of the University of Arizona that commercializes inventions stemming from research, hosted its eighth annual I-Squared Awards and Expo event on Sept. 28. 2021. Along with honoring some of the university's top inventors and entrepreneurs, the evening included an expo of innovations and startups.
UArizona Senior Vice President of Research and Innovation Elizabeth “Betsy” Cantwell, and Assistant Vice President of Tech Launch Arizona Douglas Hockstad offered their comments and presented the awards.
“Great research leads to great, impactful innovation and that innovation leads to commercializable inventions that create jobs, generate opportunity and improve lives,” Cantwell said. “These awards serve two purposes: They showcase these great stories to honor the recipients’ accomplishments, but they also serve as examples to inspire other inventors and community members to lean in and get involved in maximizing the impact of UArizona innovation.”
“This work of bringing university inventions to the world needs the support of an ecosystem to succeed,” Hockstad said. “And while we start with great inventions, it takes help from experts and resources in the community – investors, entrepreneurs, industry experts, alumni connectors. Everyone can have a hand in moving technologies out into the world.”
Student Innovator of the Year: Sahand Sabet
The Student Innovator of the Year award is given to a student who has shown excellence in commercialization and intellectual property with a focus on entrepreneurship. Sahand Sabet, a doctoral candidate in the College of Engineering, and his teammates originally approached TLA with an idea for a new generation of robots that can both roll and fly and operate for extended periods of time. The team, along with Collin Taylor, who recently graduated with a bachelor's degree in business administration finance and entrepreneuership, launched Revolute Robotics to bring the invention to the marketplace.
Sabet and the Revolute Robotics team participated in TLA's National Science Foundation Innovation Corps customer discovery program. Through the program they learned about additional potential applications for the technology,and they are currently expanding the focus of their company.
In April, the team won the Eller College of Management's McGuire New Venture Competition for aspiring entrepreneurs.
"Eight months ago I had no idea about the process – how to package things, how to start selling things – and that's where Tech Launch really helped us," Sabet said, noting how much assistance the team received from the experienced mentors at TLA. "I'm really honored to receive this award, and I want to thank TLA for all their efforts in giving students a chance to bring an idea and turn it into a product."
Campus Collaboration: Mark Van Dyke
The Campus Collaboration Award honors a person or entity within UArizona whose contributions to commercialization have demonstrated great impact over the last year. Since joining the university in 2020, Mark Van Dyke, associate dean for research at the UArizona College of Engineering, has proactively partnered with TLA to expand innovation and entrepreneurship among faculty, researchers and staff not only at his home college, but also across campus.
Additionally, he is an inventor and entrepreneur who is listed as inventor or co-inventor on 34 issued U.S. patents in the biomedical space and has co-founded three startups.
"[As engineers], we like to work on things that actually improve the quality of life, and there's a limit to what we can do in our laboratories on campus," he said. "So to get connected to Tech Launch Arizona and the overall entrepreneurial ecosystem – to build those ties and those strengths and those relationships – that's really important for us as problem solvers, because at the end of the day, that's how we have impact."