Game-changing patents highlight 2021 university report

Industry Communications: Winter 2022-23

A 2021 report from the National Academy of Inventors and Intellectual Property Owners Association ranked the University of Nebraska system tied at No. 64 (out of 100) worldwide universities granted U.S. Utility Patents. It’s the fifth consecutive year for the university’s appearance on the list, climbing 13 spots up from No. 77 in the 2020 report.

Forty-three patents were granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to the University of Nebraska system’s technology transfer offices – NUTech Ventures at UNL and UNeMed at UNMC and UNO – and feature six individual patents related to a miniaturized surgical robot invented by Shane Farritor, professor of engineering; and an unmanned aerial vehicle used for fire suppression and ignition developed by Drone Amplified, a startup led by Carrick Detweiler, professor of computing.

Farritor, who co-founded Virtual Incision, a startup based at Nebraska Innovation Campus, and his colleagues have been developing MIRA, a “miniaturized vivo robotic assistant.” The miniaturized robot project received $100,000 in NASA funding to prepare MIRA for a 2024 test aboard the International Space Station. Detweiler, meanwhile, has utilized unmanned aerial vehicles, a.k.a. drones, to help fight wildfires in Arizona, Alaska, and other locations across the U.S. by dropping ping-pong-ball-sized pellets that ignite to start small fires that serve as back burns in fighting wildfires.

In all, Husker researchers were named inventors on 25 of the 43 patents granted the NU system in 2021.