Richard Kaner has developed some of the world’s hardest metals in his lab at UCLA. Now Kaner, a professor with joint appointments in chemistry, biochemistry, materials science and engineering, is exploring with his team ways to turn these metals into powerful cutting tools for use in industrial processes.

Also in the marketplace of ideas are Mike Stubblebine, Jake Supowit and Sean Reilly, all UCLA graduate students at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. Their focus is on finding better solutions for thermal connectors used for retaining and extracting heat from rack-mounted printed circuit boards. They have invented an innovative wedgelock conduction heat transfer design that will benefit the high-tech industry by offering 20 percent better thermal performance than existing connectors and being less costly to produce.

Kaner and Stubblebine were among 20 University of California inventors to present their innovative research at UC’s annual Technology Commercialization Forum held recently in San Francisco. The work spanned a huge array of fields and came from eight UC campuses and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The two UCLA innovations are just a fraction of the commercially viable discoveries and inventions to emerge recently from the UC system — and part of what makes UC such a powerhouse of economic growth for the state.

UC researchers reported more than 1,700 new inventions last year, according to the recently released Technology Commercialization Report. Of those inventions, 406 came from UCLA. UC inventions led to 71 new start-up companies and produced roughly $106 million royalty and fee income for the university. At UCLA, the work of campus inventors led to the creation of 17 new start-up companies during the last fiscal year — the most of any UC campus — and produced $23.7 million in revenue for the campus.

UC President Janet Napolitano, speaking at the university's annual forum, said that UC is committed to doing even more to help faculty, researchers and students bring their discoveries to the marketplace.

"Steering UC’s cutting-edge discoveries through our labs and into the world economy is central to our mission as a public university,” Napolitano said. “We are committed to supporting our faculty and students with a strong, nimble infrastructure that will help them pursue patents and develop start-up companies, and we will continue to develop partnerships with industry and investors.”

Steven Beckwith, UC's vice president for research and graduate studies, said that the breadth and depth of innovation are a reflection that UC has created an "ecosystem of discovery" across its campuses and labs.

"This is the largest, and without a doubt, the most prestigious university in the world," Beckwith said. "Our researchers tackle complex issues and look to answer some of the biggest questions that society has. And ultimately, we are looking to create a benefit for the public."