Fang, then an associate professor of electrical engineering at Binghamton, developed and patented software that can provide electromagnetic analysis of integrated circuits from chip to package to board, assessing overall power and signal performance. Today, he's the founder and president of a company that counts IBM, Cisco, Sony, Samsung, LG and other leading manufacturers among its clients.
"Virtually all the computer companies right now are using our tools," said Fang, who noted these tools help these firms make computer technology more reliable, faster and cheaper.
How does a faculty member's breakthrough concept travel from campus to the marketplace? Generally, that happens through a process known as technology transfer. At Binghamton, the Office of Technology Transfer and Innovation Partnerships offers guidance and encouragement to faculty members who may have a discovery worthy of a patent. Once the University invests in patent protection, the office works to license the technology's use to an existing company or a start-up firm.
In 2007-08, Binghamton faculty members filed 28 new technology disclosures and 19 patent applications. Royalties rose by 59 percent. While technology transfer is about ideas, not numbers, these statistics are still an important sign that the culture on campus is changing and that faculty members are responding to an environment that nurtures entrepreneurship, said Eugene Krentsel, assistant vice president for Technology Transfer and Innovation Partnerships.
"When you talk to faculty, what excites them is an opportunity to make an impact on people's lives, both in their community and, more importantly, nationally and globally," Krentsel said. "That's where technology transfer comes in, because by transferring that knowledge, we're able to change people's lives. That's the driving force."
Fang's story offers a dramatic illustration of that drive to make a difference.
Sigrity, the company he created about 10 years ago to help customers overcome design challenges due to ever-increasing circuit speed in the world of integrated circuits, packages and printed circuit boards, now employs about 100 people. It has offices worldwide, including locations in New York, California, Texas, China, India, Japan and Germany.
Sigrity negotiated an exclusive license on the patents owned by the Research Foundation of SUNY, which has generated more than $1 million in revenue to Binghamton University. Fang was honored as the Licensee of Distinction in 2008 by the University's Office of Technology Transfer and Innovation Partnerships, in conjunction with the Small Scale Systems Integration and Packaging Center (S3IP). His entrepreneurial spirit was an important factor in choosing him for the honor, Krentsel said.
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