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Friday, Oct 20, 2017
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Editorial: A USF achievement deserving of prime-time attention

The University of South Florida continues to distinguish itself and the entire Tampa Bay area by joining elite institutions in the number patents granted year in and year out.

This year, USF ranked 10th among U.S. universities for the number of patents granted in 2014, joining the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford and Johns Hopkins, among other universities. No other Florida university cracked the top 10.

The high ranking is becoming a tradition at USF, which created a Technology Transfer Office for Patents and Licensing to help faculty and students with their inventions. The office assists with everything from fundraising to filing for the patent.

Fostering that ingenuity and innovation attracts top talent and boosts the local economy.

“It reflects our approach to research and entrepreneurship at this university and how we really encourage helping economic development in the region,” Paul Sanberg, a USF senior vice president, told the Tribune’s Jerome R. Stockfisch.

All totaled, USF was granted 104 patents last year.

Among the notable patents obtained by USF students and faculty were one for new treatment against the MRSA bacterium, and one for an easy-to-assemble emergency housing unit for use after hurricanes and other disasters. These are practical inventions that have a legitimate shot at making it to market, a focus of the research effort at USF.

Earning the patent distinction is another indicator of the importance of having USF in our midst. The university, among the largest in the nation, has an estimated economic impact on the area of $4.4 billion. It’s considered a top-tier research university and is host to 48,000 students and more than 2,000 distinguished faculty, researchers and teachers.

It’s also home to the National Academy of Inventors which, along with the Intellectual Property Owners Association, compiles the annual list of academic patents granted to universities.

Other state schools on the annual list are the University of Florida Research Foundation, with 87 patents; the University of Central Florida, with 66 patents; and Florida State University, with 30 patents.

The innovation can give the country an advantage when competing in the global economy. And it can drive job growth and strengthen the economy by creating products and jobs that didn’t previously exist.

“The data once again proves that innovation based on university technology continues to be a key factor in economic development and a fundamental element to the success of a university,” Sanberg said.

The patents are where the rubber meets the road for university research, and by this measure USF is leading the pack in Florida and is among the leaders in the nation.

It’s an achievement worthy of as much attention as winning a bowl game on the football field.

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