Portia Stewart // Fall 2014
From L to R: Reza Derakhshani, Ph.D., Associate Professor, School of Computing and Engineering, Maria Meyers, Director, UMKC Innovation Center, Toby Rush, CEO, EyeVerify

Imagine for a moment a room full of new technologies and innovations. Then picture another room filled with the best candidates to run companies based on these new ideas. How would you open the door to create traffic flow between these two rooms — and build a network that makes the right connections to take these innovations out of the lab and prepare them for the commercial world?

This is the task the UMKC Innovation Center embraced to move technology out of the university and into the hands of consumers.

To make this happen, the Innovation Center has created several programs that offer the resources researchers and entrepreneurs need to move ideas from the lab and into the commercial marketplace.

“There’s no one way that it works,” says Denise Fields, industry relations officer
with the UMKC Small Business and Technology Development Center.
“It’s a collection of resources to pull expertise together to get the technology out there.”

A recent success story, a start-up company called EyeVerify, offers a peek inside these programs and demonstrates how the Innovation Center’s toolbox of resources work together to spell success for the university and the business community.

In 2005, research was taking place between Reza Derakhshani, Ph.D., an associate professor in UMKC’s School of Computing and Engineering, and Arun Ross, Ph.D., formerly of West Virginia University. The concept was simple: Use people’s unique blood vessels to confirm identity. The proof of concept used a camera to capture the vein patterns in the eye. The research secured the researchers a patent in 2008 for the core concept of eye-vein biometrics — an important distinction, Derakhshani says, because this patent covered the concept of identifying people by scanning the blood-vessel patterns in the whites of their eyes.

The technology had great potential, but it needed an entrepreneur to take it to the next level: commercial success. But once the invention is made, where does it go? The UMKC Innovation Center set a goal to smooth the path with a collection of collaborative programs designed to make it more efficient to start — and run — a business successfully.

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