University attempts commercialization

Meghann Anderson
Staff writer

Patenting is underway for an invention by the University’s Telecommunications Systems Management department.

The product is the Mobile Information and Telecom Operations Center, or MITOC.

The machine allows people to communicate during ice storms, tornadoes and other disasters.

The MITOC is a prepackaged emergency communication system. It has the capability to operate without global power and offers communication systems through cellular, wired and satellite contact.

The product is now in a stage where it can be mass produced. The largest group to receive this product would be military and law enforcement segments.

Along with the new product, came the creation of a new company called PreparedIT. PreparedIT was created for the process of commercializing the product. The company was created in late 2010.

PreparedIT focuses communications equipment and even more specifically on emergency response equipment.

“Murray State does not have the resources to market the product nationally,” Jay Morgan, associate provost, said. “But PreparedIT does.”

This new company, is to be headquartered in Murray, Morgan said. PreparedIT will spur the local economy by adding regional jobs, he said.

So far, 35 products have been sold to businesses such as Murray State Public Safety, Kentucky Fire Commission and the Jackson Purchase Public Health Department.

“We are hoping the invention will spur innovative products that can also be patented,” Morgan said. “I think you will see more in the future on a regional base.”

Morgan said PreparedIT is looking for a place to set up its headquarters. The company will process and ship the product from Murray. PreparedIT will add more jobs to the community.

“The commercialization effort was something to look at on campus,” he said. “Hopefully with this product being successful, it will stir other individuals on campus to get a patent or some form of copyright on a product they have designed.”

Commercialization began in Spring 2011, Morgan said. He introduced the product to the Board of Regents earlier this summer because it needed contracts to be approved and signed by the president. Certain types of contracts have to go in front of the Board, such as when moving a University product to an off campus location.

President Randy Dunn said this is not a typical occurrence for a smaller public regional university.

“It happens a lot and you see these transfer license agreements that take place,” Dunn said. “So the fact that we have this invention coming out of TSM that has practical application to the industry is kind of an exciting threshold for us to cross and provide us the opportunity to enter into an agreement so the inventors of the program.”

The MITOC comes in three sizes; the smallest being the incident command, then the strike team and finally the largest box called entry team.

The incident command is a vehicle-based unit in trailer or SUV. The smallest MITOC is the incident command unit and it is in a case small enough to carry on an airplane. The strike team is a unit in one or two-rack cases that is equipped with networking capability.

“They’ve taken it and shrunk it down so it will fit in an airplane,” John Young, administrative assistant to the TSM, said. “The yellow box contains some batteries, a solar panel to charge the batteries, a small satellite dish, a netbook instead of a laptop, all of the cables that go with it, a router that you can put air cards in from various cell phone providers that establishes local network within a building.”

Young said the portability of the product makes it marketable.

The University also had to have a copyright and patent committee to make sure no policies have been violated from a product similar to this. The committee looks at what other universities are doing and how they handle similar copyright situations. Committee members are Steve Cobb, Teresa Groves, Jim Gant, Tim Todd and Morgan.

The smallest box costs approximately $6,000 and the others can cost up to $14,000.

The University will earn approximately $200 of royalty per unit, Morgan said.

Morgan said the profits made from the MITOC will be the judge of its success.

“If we can earn a couple thousand a year it will be a successful adventure,” he said. “This is paying more cultural dividends for us rather than money wise.”

Morgan said the MITOC going through the patent process will change the University entirely.

Said Morgan: “It will change the way we look at patents and copyrights on campus. I want people to develop products and know that Murray State can handle this.”

Contact Anderson