I have just learned that UMSL's Zhi Xu, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has won the University of Missouri System's 2004 Faculty Entrepreneur of the Year Award for his part in the invention and commercialization of a new ultrasensitive spectrophotometer. This is good news for him and for this campus.

In its third year, this award is granted to a UM faculty member who has "a record of entrepreneurial innovation that demonstrates commercial utility, contributes to the public welfare, and brings visibility to the University of Missouri." The award includes a cash prize and will be presented April 6 at the 2004 Technology Transfer Showcase.

Spectrophotometers are essential analytical tools in academic and commercial labs worldwide. These devices use optical means to detect minute quantities of chemicals or compounds in solutions. Xu's innovation is a new means of analysis that eliminates much of the "static" or interference inherent in these machines, thus increasing the device's sensitivity by one-hundredfold.

Xu's work, conducted in partnership with David Larsen, professor emeritus of chemistry and biochemistry, is of great value to researchers, and his efforts to make the technology widely available have resulted in a patent and a licensing agreement with Altech Associates Inc., a Chicago-based manufacturer in the field. A second license on another aspect of the technology currently is under negotiation. The first commercial product from this technology will be launched by early summer, with expected annual licensing revenue in the mid-six figures.

In the preparations for the licensing agreement, the Office of Research Administration asked Keith Stine, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UMSL, to serve as its scientific advisor and Haim Mano, associate professor of marketing at UMSl, to conduct market research on the product. Their contributions were essential.

I encourage any of you who have inventions that you believe might have commercial value to contact our research office. Based on your disclosures, we can apply for patents and facilitate commercialization of your discoveries.