Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
May 24, 1996

CATD struts its stuff in D.C.

by Skip Derra
The ability of a university enterprise to take basic research -- anything from computer software to animal vaccines -- and help develop it into marketable technologies was the focus of a recent Washington, D.C., presentation by Iowa State's Center for Advanced Technology Development.

The ISU center provides applied research and market direction to ISU inventions to prepare them for commercialization. CATD officials were called to Washington May 21 to provide insight into successful technology transfer. They took part in a day-long open house at the invitation of the House Science Committee.

"Our model for technology transfer is getting significant attention," said Lisa Kuuttila, director of technology commercialization at CATD. "It shows our system works."

The Science Committee is exploring successful technology transfer strategies and how to apply them to federal agencies with scientific bases, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy. The event included a presentation to explain CATD's approach and highlight its successes to Congressional members, federal agency administrators and other interested parties.

"We are delighted that the Center for Advanced Technology Development is being given the chance to show what they do," said President Martin Jischke. "It's not surprising that there would be interest by government agencies in the CATD approach to technology transfer because it has worked so well over the past several years."

CATD, formed in 1987, has been a leader in technology transfer at ISU. The center funds additional work to make research conducted at ISU and Ames Laboratory more appealing to industry. The goal is to bring a technology far enough along so that the gap between research and commercial product is as narrow as possible.

"CATD has been highly successful at identifying basic university research with commercialization potential and turning it into market-ready technology," said Joel Snow, director of ISU's Institute for Physical Research and Technology, the umbrella organization for CATD.

Currently, CATD is engaged in 48 projects. In the nine years it has existed, CATD has played a role in the commercialization of 70 ISU technologies. These technologies have been licensed to 60 companies in 15 states.

The technologies include:

  • A human body software system for computer animation, which is being offered by Engineering Animation Inc., Ames, a fast-growing company.

  • Powder technology for making heat dissipation devices that will help make possible the miniaturization of the next generation of computers.

  • Optical fibers that offer superior performance during laser surgery.

  • Biodegradable plastics made of soybeans.

  • A nondestructive testing device that provides high- quality images of airplane skins to detect corrosion and bonding failures.

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