Iowa State makes list of top 100 universities for U.S. patents issued in 2019


Martin Thuo in his lab with liquid-metal particles that make heat-free solder possible

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded 38 patents to the Iowa State University Research Foundation, Inc., during calendar year 2019. One of them is for liquid-metal particles invented by Martin Thuo, foreground, and Ian Tevis, back right, that can be used for heat-free soldering and other applications. Thuo is an assistant professor of materials science and engineering and Tevis is a former postdoctoral researcher. They’re co-founders of Ames-based startup SAFI-Tech, Inc. Larger photo. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

AMES, Iowa – Iowa State University is once again listed among the top 100 worldwide universities granted U.S. patents during a calendar year.

The Iowa State University Research Foundation, Inc., which processes and holds patents tied to Iowa State research, is tied for No. 77 on the 2019 list. Iowa State is the only Iowa school on this year’s list.

The latest annual list was released today and compiled by the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association.

“This ranking is an indicator of Iowa State University’s excellent reputation for innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Wendy Wintersteen, Iowa State’s president. “It shows that our faculty are among the best in the world at transferring their cutting-edge research to the marketplace to create economic opportunities and benefit Iowans and citizens around the world.”

Why has Iowa State been consistently successful with the patent process?

“Successful patents start with leadership, researchers and staff who believe that innovating is a key to the success of the university,” said Gary Griswold, the chair of the research foundation’s board of directors, a consultant and a retired corporate attorney who practiced intellectual property law.

He also said Iowa State has the people and processes in place to analyze and protect campus inventions.

Dana Rewoldt, the president of the research foundation and the interim director of the Office of Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer, said Iowa State patents come from across the university.

“We have inventions that are useful in agriculture, useful in veterinary medicine, useful in engineering – we just have a body of useful research work,” she said.

In the rankings covering 2019, Iowa State is tied with Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, with 38 patents. The University of California system has the top ranking.

The annual rankings have been compiled since 2013. Iowa State tied for 69th in 2018, tied for 83rd in 2017, tied for 70th in 2014 and tied for 86th in 2013.

The top 100 lists are based on data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Patents reported are 2019 utility patents – defined by the patent office as “any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.”

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