University of South Florida


Patented of Innovation wall

USF ranks among the top 15 public universities in new patents

By Ann Comer Woods, USF Research and Innovation

For the 11th consecutive year, the University of South Florida is one of the top 15 American public research universities for producing new U.S. utility patents, according to a new ranking released today by the National Academy of Inventors. 

Based on the 88 new patents secured in 2023, USF is 14th among U.S. public research universities, 24th among all American public or private universities and 34th among universities worldwide. 

“The University of South Florida’s consistent recognition as one of the nation’s top producers of new U.S. utility patents is a reflection of the innovative spirit and culture that transcends across our institution,” USF President Rhea Law said. “We are proud to support our researchers who continue to turn their bold ideas into inventions, new technologies and creative solutions that make a lasting impact on our communities and throughout our society.” 

The ranking places USF in rare company among the academic institutions generating new, novel and useful inventions—including innovation powerhouses such as the University of California System, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and Stanford University. Combined, the three universities that comprise the Florida High Tech Corridor—USF, the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida—secured 287 patents. This puts The Corridor ahead of nationally recognized centers of innovation, including North Carolina’s Research Triangle and the University of Texas System.

The Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted U.S. Utility Patents in 2023 report from the National Academy of Inventors uses data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in the previous calendar year and highlights the vital role patents play in not only university research and innovation, but in the global knowledge economy. The full report can be found here.

Below are some of USF’s 2023 patent highlights:

Qing Lu
Asphalt invention

Qing Lu, associate professor in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, has developed a new asphalt and patented a novel paving system to harvest energy from heavily trafficked roadways.  By layering piezoelectric-based elements and wiring into conventional paving materials, the asphalt could capture the friction generated by vehicles’ tires rolling over it, convert this friction into electricity, and then transmit the electricity to an energy storage device.

Drawing of pill box invention

A scannable marker is embedded in the bottom of each pill chamber that collects data that tracks the user's medication adherence

College of Behavioral and Community Sciences faculty members William Diehl Kearns, Kimberly Crosland and James L. Fozard, along with Jeffrey Craighead, lead scientist at SoarTech, patented a new medication box that improves patients’ medication adherence. A scannable marker, such as a QR code, is embedded in the bottom of each pill chamber in the transparent box. Each marker is embedded with data such as the user’s medication plan, date and time when the medication is to be taken, and instructions for recording the date and time when the marker is scanned and read. When the user ingests the medication, the marker at the bottom of the pill chamber is scanned and the data is stored electronically, thus creating a long-term record of the patient’s medication regime. The system also can be programmed to provide monetary or other rewards to the user for following their medication plan, thus reinforcing consistent medication adherence. 

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