Commercializing University Research for Farmers
Yesterday, we reported on FarmSense, which is commercializing pest monitoring technology developed from research at the University of California, Riverside. It all started when co-founder Eamonn Keogh started applying computer science to pests in his research as a professor.
Keogh… “So I'm a professor of computer science in kind of AI and data mining, and I've always loved insects and so about ten years ago I tried to combine those two ideas through academic research on insects. And about five or six years ago, it occurred to me that there's really an interest in a commercial product here and that we can help the grower. We can help people grow more food. So we spun off about five years ago into a company.”
There is a lot of fantastic research that happens at the university level, and unfortunately some of it never gets commercialized. Keogh explains that the ability for scientists to commercialize their own research varies from university to university.
Keogh… “Some universities are famous for being very commercially friendly. I think my university, UC Riverside, is wonderful. But 10 years ago it didn't have that kind of philosophy. And about ten years ago we hired a new director of research, Mike Pazzani. And he was very encouraging of people to do with commercialization. But it depends upon the culture of the university and the individual too of course.”
The company was recently awarded $2.2 million in SBIR funding for the development of biosecurity measures against native and invasive pests.