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University of Pittsburgh’s Innovation Institute Helps Launch 13 Startups

During the past year, Pitt partnered with Keiretsu Forum, an angel investment group with chapters nationwide, and Osage University Partners, a venture capital outfit that invests in university startups.

by Kris B. Mamula, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / July 22, 2016

(TNS) -- The University of Pittsburgh’s startup company engine kicked into overdrive with record licensing revenue and number of patents awarded during the past year.

Pitt’s Innovation Institute reported the creation of 13 startup companies for the year ending June 30, up from two companies created during the same period five years ago. Licensing revenue rose 19 percent for the five-year period to $7.3 million, up from $6 million.

The arrows are expected to continue pointing in the right direction, according to Evan Facher, senior director of innovation and commercialization at Pitt, who credited chancellor Patrick Gallagher for the successes.

“He has helped step up our game immeasurably,” Mr. Facher said. “We’re very bullish the trend will continue.”

Mr. Gallagher took the helm in 2014 with the goal of hotwiring the commercialization of faculty and graduate student research. Since then, Pitt has expanded relationships with venture capital groups and created $1 million gap funding tool for promising startups.

The Innovation Institute was created in 2013 to consolidate the university’s commercialization functions.

During the past year, Pitt partnered with San Francisco-based Keiretsu Forum, an angel investment group with chapters nationwide, and Osage University Partners of Bala Cynwyd-Pa., a venture capital outfit that invests in university startups.

These kinds of partnerships will help ease entrepreneurs’ worries about the dearth of early funding for startups in Pittsburgh, Mr. Facher said.

Among the companies formed during the past year were Ocugenix, which licensed Pitt technology to treat glaucoma and macular degeneration; Interphase Materials, which has developed a technology for durable coatings; and SkinJet Inc., which uses a new technology to treat skin cancer with microneedle patches.

©2016 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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