KU research fuels business advances

Lawrence,KS (12-01-1999)

From Lawrence Journal World
By Mark Fagan

Researchers at Kansas University are looking for the next big commercial breakthrough in high technology.

Inside Nichols Hall, Kansas University researchers are working on wireless laptop computers, expanded-capacity fiber optics and the next generation of the Internet.

Among their goals for the work -- financed by nearly $7 million in grants this year -- is getting new technology into the marketplace where it can fuel success for companies around the world.

E-commerce sales are expected to hit $1 trillion a year in the next five years, and continuing research at KU's Information and Telecommunication Technology Center will play a role in feeding the growth, said Gary Minden, the center's chief technologist.

"It's going to be the enabler for electronic commerce," Minden said. "That's the impact down the road."

Minden and a handful of other KU researchers, professors and administrators showed off their programs Tuesday for U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, D-Kan., a member of the House Committee on Science and Technology.

Moore said he wanted information about research activities to help him push for increased grants when Congress reconvenes in January.

"We'll certainly try," said Moore, who also visited Lawrence-area financial institutions to discuss Y2K preparations.

The KU center is working on projects intended to have commercial applications in the near future. A wireless laptop could allow users to access data, the Internet -- "even a CD system upstairs" -- without being plugged into anything, Minden said.

Web browsers mounted in walls would allow people to listen to the audio portion of CNN while taking a shower, said Joseph Evans, the center's acting director.

And that's only the beginning.

"Just think about walking around the Starship Enterprise and how that works," Evans said.

Previous projects already have paid off for the center. A comprehensive Internet search engine, called ProFusion, has poured about $200,000 into the center through licensing agreements and royalties. Software for designing communications systems in the 1980s pumped $100,000 back to KU.

Today the center's 29 faculty members, 15 staff researchers, six staffers and 130 students are working toward the next big breakthrough, whatever technical form it takes.

"Think of it as the Dick Tracy wristwatch," said Robert Barnhill, president of the KU Center for Research. "It's coming true in our time."

For more information, contact ITTC.

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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: 

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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.

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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.

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