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USF faculty members recognized with Excellence in Innovation Awards

With the development of artificial intelligence technologies that maximize the impacts of academic programs and data visualization virtual reality software solutions, these faculty members are two of USF’s top innovators.

Two University of South Florida faculty members whose inventions use AI technologies to maximize the impact of academic programs and software solutions to host lectures in virtual reality have been named the recipients of the university’s Excellence in Innovation Awards.

The faculty members recognized this year are Manish Agrawal, professor of information systems and management in the Muma College of Business and George Spirou, medical engineering professor in the College of Engineering. They have developed technologies that are either the basis for new startup companies they founded or have been licensed to outside companies for development.

“The recipients of this year’s Excellence in Innovation Awards strongly represent what it means to be a faculty member at the University of South Florida — to pioneer new discoveries and make life better,” USF President Rhea Law said. “My sincere congratulations to Dr. Agrawal and Dr. Spirou on all they have accomplished.”

Manish Agrawal

Manish Agrawal 
Professor, Information Systems and Management
Muma College of Business

Agrawal is the founder of EdVision, a National Science Foundation Small Business Technology Transfer Phase-I funded company. EdVision uses AI technologies, including reinforcement learning, to maximize the impacts of academic programs. EdVision currently focuses on doctoral students and uses granular data on coursework, publications, careers and job postings to provide personalized recommendations for students. This is one of the first commercial attempts to use AI technologies to improve higher education outcomes and has the potential to revolutionize higher education. EdVision began technology development with NSF Small Business Technology Transfer funding in July 2020, and obtained its first commercial customer, North Carolina State University, the following year. During this period, EdVision also began a proof-of-concept at USF with the School of Geosciences.

George Spirou

George Spirou 
Professor, Medical Engineering
College of Engineering

Between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, Spirou led several innovations to data visualization virtual reality software syGlass through his co-founded startup company IstoVisio, Inc. During this period, Spirou co-developed solutions for the software to be used by multiple collaborators, to host lectures in virtual reality and to be implemented into a high school neuroscience course. The software is involved in a corporate pilot program with a Fortune 100 company for a product launch in 2023. IstoVisio completed its first year of funding from a National Institutes of Health Direct to Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant. Through the program, IstoVisio was selected to join the NIH Concept to Clinic: Commercializing Innovation program, through which personnel received coaching from industry expert advisors biweekly for six months. Spirou also co-published two research articles in Cambridge University Press and Physica A during this period and participated on several NIH extramural review panels.

Each year, the Excellence in Innovation Award recognizes faculty for their efforts in taking inventions to market through the creation of new startups; commercialization of their new technologies; and advancing the research and development process through publishing their work in prestigious journals and securing competitive grants to support their projects. Each awardee receives $2,000.

USF is recognized as a global leader in invention and innovation, ranking among the top 15 U.S. public universities and top 25 universities worldwide in generating new U.S. patents, according to the National Academy of Inventors and Intellectual Property Owners Association.

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Learn more about USF research by viewing articles from past years (2010-2019).

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