New company in valley is first spinout from Space Dynamics Laboratory

By Karen Wolfe
Utah State University Research Foundation
January 07, 2009
signing license agreement

North Logan, UT—Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory has reached another milestone. On December 19th, the largest operating unit of the Utah State University Research Foundation signed a license agreement granting its intellectual property to TMT, or Thermal Management Technologies. The historic event represents the first for–profit company to be spun out from the non–profit research laboratory, creating opportunities for economic growth in Utah and the Cache Valley.

The formation of TMT, along with the potential it holds for job growth, is what state officials had in mind when creating Utah’s Centers of Excellence program.  Working closely with universities, the state has funded small, start–up businesses that capitalize on the intellectual property of Utah’s universities.

The company’s product line includes channeled cooling panels and flexible thermal links which were initially designed for space applications. However, the technology has broad commercial applications in the aerospace, aircraft, automobile, computer and electronics industries which are the markets that TMT will now have the opportunity to fully pursue.

Doug Lemon, director of SDL, is immensely pleased with the direction in which he sees USURF and SDL heading. “TMT is a great example of taxpayer–funded technologies transitioning into the commercial world. The technology now holds potential to create jobs locally and strengthen U.S. competitiveness. This is the first of what I expect will be many SDL–developed technologies being transitioned into commercial applications, through spinout companies such as TMT or through licenses to existing firms.“

Although the business structure for TMT was first created in July of 2008, the agreement that went into effect on Jan. 1, now allows TMT to commercialize SDL’s intellectual property while focusing on for–profit business growth.

TMT is currently located at 1575 North 600 East, in North Logan and will employ approximately six people in the coming weeks. During the start–up phase, the company has relied heavily on USU’s mechanical and aerospace engineering students for technical and engineering support, and currently employs three part–time students. The next few months are critical in defining future expansion plans and TMT is already in discussion with potential business partners.

The founders of TMT include three USURF employees and a former business consultant who advised the company during its early stages.  Clair Batty and Scott Jensen hold PhDs from MIT and USU, respectively.  Their educational emphasis was in heat transfer and thermal management.  The two are well–known in the fields of mechanical and aerospace engineering and have garnered strong support from both within the aerospace industry as well as other related industries.  Batty and Jensen are the inventors of many of the products showcased by TMT.  Batty served as head of USU’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department for six years before retiring in 2003.

USURF Executive Vice President for Business Operations, Forrest Fackrell, is responsible for the business structure of TMT.  Fackrell’s mandate within the research foundation includes fostering the creation of businesses similar to TMT with the goal of creating more jobs in Cache Valley and a more vibrant economic outlook for Utah.

Dr. David Bell, a USU alum and a current member of the USURF Board of Trustees, brings a wealth of technical and business experience to TMT. Bell has worked with many start–up companies, holds multiple patents, and is an experienced entrepreneur.

USURF, SDL and TMT worked closely with USU’s Technology Commercialization Office, directed by Dr. Ray DeVito, which was instrumental in establishing the legal relationships necessary to form the new company.