More than 100 attendees gathered at the sixth annual I-Squared Awards and Expo, an event hosted by Tech Launch Arizona, the office of the University of Arizona that commercializes inventions stemming from research, to honor the University of Arizona's top inventors and entrepreneurs.
Jennifer Barton, director of the BIO5 Institute and professor of biomedical engineering, biosystems engineering, electrical and computer engineering, and optical sciences, was named campus collaborator of the year. The BIO5 Institute supports and encourages faculty engagement in the commercialization process, and as its director, Barton has long been a champion of these efforts.
"Things can only really help people if they get out there into the marketplace and are successful as a product," Barton said. "That's what I think is exciting."
Urbix Resources, a company co-founded by UA engineering management alumnus Nicolas Cuevas, received the Startup of the Year award. Founded to commercialize a portfolio of lithium-ion battery and related material technologies, Urbix received the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce award for Exceptional Innovator of the Year in March 2019. Cuevas and his co-founders are currently building a green tech purification plant with an expected $200 million annual revenue and have raised approximately $5 million to date.
The event also included an interactive expo where entrepreneurial faculty displayed their startups and inventions. Barton showcased an advanced endoscope for fallopian tube imaging she created, and Pierre Deymier and Keith Runge of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering showed their acoustic phi-bit system for quantum analogue computing.
"We couldn't fulfill our mission of creating impact without everyone's contributions," said Doug Hockstad, assistant vice president of Tech Launch Arizona. "From researchers bringing us their raw inventions and ideas to the entrepreneurs and investors who help us move these innovations toward being strong companies and products, our success depends upon all of you, and we thank you all for being a part of this work of making a better world."