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USF's on a patent roll, a sign of rising innovation

Hard to believe, perhaps, but the University of South Florida ranks ninth among universities worldwide in the number of patents received from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2010.

USF researchers and students were granted 83 patents last year, making it one of just 14 universities globally to rank among the top 300 organizations, including large corporations that dominate the patent market, says a report by the Intellectual Property Owners Association.

USF, which ranked 269th overall, was the only Florida university to make the list and ranked above such big-name schools as the University of Michigan and University of Pennsylvania that also made the top 300 list.

Why do we care? Patents represent the legal stamp of approval to an invention or an original idea. And the number of patents by a university or a corporation or even a region of the country can be a powerful indicator of a concentration of innovation under way.

"Patented intellectual property originating at universities is playing an increasingly vital role in the global economy, in everything from job creation to raising the quality of health care," said Paul Sanberg, USF's senior associate vice president for research and innovation.

In a country where many fear we're losing our innovative edge, USF's 83 patents last year is big. University research fuels many products of the future, so it's great news that USF is gaining momentum. USF patents have grown steadily. In the early 2000s, USF routinely racked up fewer than 30 a year.

One patent last year, for example, was given to USF's David Friess and several others for a "portable underwater mass spectrometer."

Another patent was issued to several researchers (including Larry Langebrake who runs SRI at USF St. Petersburg) for a "microbial fuel cell."

Just for perspective, IBM ranked No. 1 in this country for patents in 2010. How many? Try 5,866.

• • •

At first glance, Tampa Bay's commercial real estate market still looks like it's on life support, based on the findings of PriceWaterhousecoopers' second quarter real estate survey.

"While the retail sector is forecast to struggle the most over the next two years, the multifamily sector is in a full-fledged recovery," says survey editor in chief Susan M. Smith of the national scene.

That's doubly true in Tampa Bay. Looking at the market for office space in 19 southern metro markets, Tampa Bay and Orlando ranked dead last, still in recession through 2014. In retail space, Tampa Bay looks like it will start to show signs of genuine recovery by 2013, as will Orlando and Miami.

Where Tampa Bay appears stronger than many other southern metro areas is in the multifamily real estate market. Tampa Bay's already in recovery there and will shift to an "expansion" period starting in 2012 and running through at least 2014.

• • •

Just in case anyone doubted the prospects of Tampa Bay and Orlando someday merging into a Central Florida super region, a new magazine will be launched to promote the eventual union. FORWARDFlorida: The Voice of Florida's Super Region magazine "will focus on the most creative individuals, companies and community leaders who are building the future of business for the super region."

The magazine is backed by the two regions' respective economic development groups — the Tampa Bay Partnership and Orlando's Central Florida Partnership — that are the driving forces in the super-regional push.

The magazine will be assembled and published by Knight Publishing, a firm that specializes in corporate publications.

Knight already publishes magazines for such clients as home builder Lennar and Orlando organizations like the Metro Orlando Economic Development Corp. and the Orlando Regional Realtor Association. So long as we're clear on its mission.

Contact Robert Trigaux at

USF's on a patent roll, a sign of rising innovation 06/22/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 10:03am]
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