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Your gateway to innovation

If you know me, you know my tagline 鈥淚nnovation lies at the intersection of disciplines鈥 and that I spend a great deal of time exploring this concept. This exploration aligns with serving as vice president for research, but for me it鈥檚 much deeper rooted.听

If you know me, you know my tagline 鈥淚nnovation lies at the intersection of disciplines鈥 and that I spend a great deal of time exploring this concept. This exploration aligns with serving as vice president for research, but for me it鈥檚 much deeper rooted.听

Innovation has always been at the core of my professional career. Yes, I鈥檓 proud of the startup that evolved to a stable company, providing a commercial conduit for my technologies, and allowed me to move an idea from the laboratory into the hands of clinicians and pharma in order to serve patients. But innovation has more fundamentally served me well in addressing daily questions, like 鈥渉ow can I solve this problem with limited funding and supplies?鈥 Or 鈥渉ow can I transform learning into a more engaging experience for my students?鈥 Or 鈥渉ow can this be accomplished in the face of opposing factors?鈥澛

Indeed, innovation goes far beyond commercialization; as we look across the university, I see UGA students, staff, and faculty thinking about the past, present, and future, creating new ideas, solutions, works, services, etc., with social imperative.听

In the Office of Research (OoR), we are committed to providing the UGA community with tools and support to develop innovation skills that will springboard endeavors 鈥渢o teach, to serve, and to inquire into the nature of things鈥 and realize the greatest impact.

Over the past few weeks, we have been excited to celebrate honors to some of our innovators. Provost Jack Hu and Professor Holly Sellers were of the (NAI). This week we relayed that five new faculty鈥擡lizabeth Brisbois (Engineering), David Crich (Pharmacy), Qingguo 鈥淛ack鈥 Huang and Paul Raymer, and Ralph Tripp (VetMed)鈥 are new NAI Senior Members. And earlier today we also announced the appointment of Professor Valentine Nzengung as UGA鈥檚 newest Regents鈥 Entrepreneur.听

UGA innovators and their innovations clearly are having impact.

However, we are most excited to see that innovation continues to live and grow across UGA.听 In two weeks, we will celebrate and be inspired by arts and humanities innovators through the 2024 Humanities Festival. We will see innovation through the blend of poetry and music or the use of artificial intelligence to probe the stories that shape society and our cultural perspectives, or the profound influence of humanities research on documentary filmmaking.

Innovation has always been fundamental to UGA鈥檚 land grant mission, and the Office of Research is here to help scholars who want to explore and embrace unique angles to grow their ideas.听

As the university鈥檚 technology transfer office, Innovation Gateway works to ensure that UGA research discoveries reach their full potential for public benefit. UGA 鈥攚e have never fallen out of the Top 5鈥攆or number of commercial products translated from research.

How do we do this? Innovation Gateway helps translate research discoveries into products, companies, and transformations through partnering with industry and economic development partners. UGA鈥檚 industry partners have brought to market more than 1,150 total products based on our research.听

Innovation Gateway offers programs of support for all stages of the entrepreneurial journey. Innovation Bootcamp was established by OoR to offer tailored training for success in an entrepreneurial environment. Innovation Gateway鈥檚 teaches scholars how to create a value proposition and conduct customer discovery research; pitch training programs help inventors learn how to communicate with and鈥攎ore importantly鈥攍isten to the non-technical world.

We also provide assistance to secure funding and mentors. Innovation Gateway staff can assist with proposals to the as well as federal funding agencies that offer innovation programs. With an extensive list of internal and external mentors across a wide variety of subjects, Innovation Gateway matches innovators with experts who can help refine goals/plans and identify resources.听

Commercialization is important work in our office; however, I will emphasize again that innovation goes far beyond this important activity. As innovation opportunities evolve, we are excited to show UGA innovators how the tools Innovation Gateway offers apply well beyond commercialization.

A good example stems from the NSF I Corps-L program and its underlying tenet, which suggested that a teaching innovation, which one would want widely distributed and adopted (at minimal to no cost), would benefit from the same analysis as a widget produced in a manufacturing environment. Kind of astounding!聽聽

Innovation is not static鈥 we are constantly seeking new avenues to support the UGA community; for example, we are excited to have envisioned and helped establish the Humanities Council to support innovators.听

In summary, there is a gateway to innovation at UGA that you will find within the Office of Research. If you鈥檙e excited about evolving your ideas in unexpected directions, or simply want to increase the impact of your work, please consider this your invitation to visit the Delta Innovation Hub or contact Innovation Gateway at gateway@uga.edu. Help us innovate the innovation process at UGA!

Karen J.L. Burg
Vice President for Research
Harbor Lights Chair in Biomedical Research