KU research centers developing variety of marketable technologies


From Lawrence Journal World
By Andy Hyland

Their work can range from how strokes affect senior citizens to trying to better predict Kansas crop yields.

Research and associated surveys being done at several of Kansas Universitys research centers often benefit the state and region -- and are beginning to take an economic development focus in some areas, as well.

The research centers serve as organizations within KU to bring together researchers interested in the same general field of research, though many times from different academic disciplines.

In the case of the Information and Telecommunication Technology Center, researchers are being tasked not only to develop new technologies, but also to push those technologies out into the marketplace, said Perry Alexander, the centers interim director.

"It changes the game," Alexander said. "University researchers, were not usually thinking about money. Thats not our mindset. Were thinking about new knowledge."

The center is currently working on a wide variety of information technology issues, including one that Alexander said is playing a growing role nationally-- information assurance. Namely, ensuring that secure data and information is protected from unwanted intruders.

Not only is it useful in matters of national security, Alexander said, but also has applications for everything from keeping a students grades confidential to protecting a patients medical records.

The center employs a staff person who helps connect with companies and tries to market the technology, though Alexander admits it can be a difficult process. But when it works, it works well, with money flowing to the company, to KU, to ITTC and to the researcher who discovered the technology.

"When we do this, its a win for everybody," Alexander said.

At Kansas Geological Survey, researchers are working on a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to work on issues related to carbon dioxide sequestration near Wellington. The technology would look to harness harmful carbon dioxide gases from energy development and store it underground.

Rex Buchanan, interim director of the Kansas Geological Survey, said the technology is still in its early stages. "If (carbon dioxide) sequestration ever comes to pass, itll come to Kansas in a big way because of its energy and mining operations," he said. "Well just be better at what were already doing."

The geological survey is partnering with industry firms like Wichita-based BEREXCO Inc. and Bittersweet Energy Inc. to support the project.

Kansas Biological Survey, too, features some research thats being tested in the marketplace. Jude Kastens, an assistant research professor at the Kansas Applied Remote Sensing program, uses satellite imagery to create a detailed crop forecast for the state and the nation.

Kastens crop mapping tools are being tested in the open market. Armed with 21 years of data to support his forecasting, Kastens is working with an outside company to determine whether his models will sell.

He said he hopes the data will continue to be one more piece of information for farmers to weigh when they make their business decisions.

"In the big picture, were just trying to give people a feel for where theyre going to be come harvest time so they can make better marketing decisions," he said.

For more information, contact ITTC.

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Partner with ITTC

The Information and Telecommunication Technology Center at the University of Kansas has developed several assistance policies that enhance interactions between the Center and local, Kansas, or national companies. 

ITTC assistance includes initial free consulting (normally one to five hours). If additional support is needed, ITTC will offer one of the following approaches: 

Sponsored Research Agreement

Individuals and organizations can enter into agreements with KUCR/ITTC and provide funds for sponsored research to be performed at ITTC with the assistance of faculty, staff and students.

Licensing and Royalty/Equity Agreement

An ITTC goal is the development of investment-grade technologies for transfer to, and marketing by, local, Kansas, and national businesses. To enhance this process, the Center has developed flexible policies that allow for licensing, royalty, and equity arrangements to meet both the needs of ITTC and the company.

Commercialization Development

Companies with a technology need that can be satisfied with ITTC's resources can look to us for assistance. We can develop a relationship with interested partners that will provide for the development of a technology suited for commercialization.

ITTC Resource Access

ITTC resources, including computers and software systems, may be made available to Kansas companies in accordance with the Center's mission and applicable Regents and University policies.

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