Why I Commercialize
“I took a lesson from [postdoc adviser Robert Grubbs] and patent everything because it’s hard to see how important something is going to be in the future. I didn’t always know I would want to work in application-based things, but I think I was really inspired by my postdoc adviser. He has started many companies and commercialized a lot of the chemicals that were developed in his lab. I found it very valuable and important that scientists have the obligation and almost duty to give back to the taxpayers something. Our research is supported by taxpayer money, we need to give back something more than just fundamental science. Fundamental science is the MOST important thing, but ultimately, we can impact society on a broader scale by participating in university-driven commercialization efforts.
Broadly, our group [at CSU] focuses on catalysis and finding more sustainable roots to drive chemical reactions. So we develop new catalysts that are derived from organic molecules that can absorb sunlight, essentially, and convert that solar energy into chemical energy and run reactions at ambient conditions. We make materials such as polymers and we also look at synthesizing medicinally relevant chemicals. That research project has led to the spin out of New Iridium which is run by Chern, CEO and co-founder of that company.
A project I started working on when I was in the Grubbs group at CalTech, has turned into another startup opportunity, Cypris Materials. I wasn’t necessarily going to work on it in my independent career, but an awesome opportunity came where we wrote a proposal to try to make a heat-reflective window paint so you could try to retrofit inefficient windows in warm climates to reduce cooling loads. So we started working on that and we were funding by ARPA-E for the last almost 4 years. Two of my former grad students graduated this summer and started the company Cypris Materials. They are now in Berkeley, CA, participating in the Cyclotron Road Fellowship to further develop the company.
When I was at Cal-Tech, there was a focus to patent. Every time we went to a conference, Grubbs would send an email out to everyone telling everybody file all of your stuff now. He needed to know if it’s filed or not, because he was going to give a talk and didn’t want to ruin our patent work. Being at Cal Tech, especially in the Grubbs group, it was really special because you could get a provisional [patent] filed very quickly, and provisionals are an inexpensive way to protect your IP early.
I never thought about what happens after the fundamental research [is done] – and in a lot of cases nothing happens if the scientist doesn’t take it a little farther forward. If they just publish a paper, that might be the end of it. In the Grubbs’ group, the solvent purification system was discovered in his laboratory and they didn’t realize that was valuable or that you could profit off of it. They didn’t put IP on it and it was just free for everybody – now there are companies that sell the solvent purification system and they didn’t have to pay for its development.”
How Does Your Commercialization Focus Benefit Your Graduate Students
“With graduate students, I can tell that all of my group is focused on what is the ultimate application of these and they are always looking at what is beyond the fundamental questions to how this can affect society. Sometimes we do have to bring the students back to the realization that they are doing fundamental research – that’s what your PhD is really about, it’s not about how to commercialize something.
I probably never had the ambition to start companies, but Chern was the post-doc in my group. Almost immediately, he was like,” I am going to start a company about this technology.” He took me for the ride. The R2M program [Research to Market program by CSU Ventures] was really good for Matt and Ryan[Cypris Materials co-founders], and Chern was a [CSU Ventures] Ambassador, so they work really hard at going out and making connections with people.
It’s really exciting to watch our fundamental discoveries move forward to paths to commercialization. To have opportunities to impact things that my parents would understand what’s going on. A lot of people here [at CSU] do it. It’s kind of amazing how many entrepreneurs there are in this [Chemistry] department.
Areas of Collaborative Interest
Our research interests are in the fields of catalysis, polymer chemistry, and materials science. A major focus of our research program is the design of photoredox catalysts for the application in organocatalyzed atom transfer radical polymerization (O-ATRP) and more recently small molecule synthesis. We are also interested in applications of self-assembled block copolymer nanostructures as photonic crystals.
- US10081705B2: Periodic nanostructures from self assembled wedge-type block-copolymers
- US9575212B2: Chiral polymers for the self-assembly of photonic crystals
- US9382387B2: Rapid self-assembly of block copolymers to photonic crystals
- US9156921B2: Organocatalyzed photoredox mediated polymerization using visible light
Selected Published Patent Applications
- US20190345122A1: Methods for forming aryl carbon-nitrogen bonds using light and photoreactors useful for conducting such reactions
- US20180370911A1: Photocatalyst-free, light-induced carbon-sulfur cross-coupling methods
- US20180237550A1: Compositions and methods of promoting organic photocatalysis
- US20160356923A1: Photonic Structures from Self Assembly of Brush Block Copolymers and Polymer Blends
Hidden text – because the “design” is “light” text:
Garret Miyake, Garret M. Miyake
#CSUInvents – Inventor Highlight! Garret Miyake and his team in the Department of Chemistry at Colorado State University work in the fields of #catalysis (photoredox), #polymer #chemistry (self-assembled block copolymer nanostructures), and #MaterialsScience. Learn more about Colorado State University professor Garret Miyake as an #inventor, a #csustartup company founder, and his lab accomplishments.