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July 6, 2014

Professor’s engineering research leads to company

TULSA — A University of Tulsa professor is taking a one-year sabbatical to expand the school’s small portfolio of commercialized intellectual properties.

Jeremy Daily, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, has taken the technology he developed at TU that extracts crash data from a vehicle’s engine control module and turned it into a company called Synercon. The business development was made possible under a federal cooperative agreement with the National Institute of Justice, and the company has already landed a contract with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Daily said.

Bill Lawson, director of TU’s technology commercialization program, said that since the university could not sell Daily’s so-called black-box products to meet demand, Daily was encouraged to start Synercon Technologies LLC and lease the technology from the school. Such tech transfers are common at large universities such as Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma, but it’s a long time coming for TU.

And the school administration wants to make sure its faculty and research students know their efforts would be likewise supported, Lawson said; Daily’s efforts can help set a trend of intellectual property development and commercialization at TU.

“We have about 20 patents or so, and our number of invention disclosures is going up each year,” Lawson told The Journal Record. “But this is a growing area for the University of Tulsa and it’s pretty exciting. . Only about 15 percent of universities’ technology transfer programs actually pay for themselves. TU’s is one of those in the 15 percent, but it’s just a very small number.

“We have a world-class faculty that does great things, but there wasn’t a culture here of tech transfer until just about 10 years ago,” he said. “It takes time to change culture and a lot of our new faculty come from schools with stronger programs.”

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