Lok Receives Innovator of the Year Award

Tech Licensing Director Jim O’Connell, UF President Dr. Kent Fuchs, Dr. Benjamin Lok, and Office of Research Vice President Dr. David Norton.
From left: Tech Licensing Director Jim O’Connell, UF President Dr. Kent Fuchs, Dr. Benjamin Lok, and Office of Research Vice President Dr. David Norton.

Nearly 150 innovators celebrated their fiscal year 2019 achievements at UF Innovate | Tech Licensing’s second annual Standing InnOvation event. Benjamin Lok, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering whose inventions showcase the value of human-computer interactions, received the Innovator of the Year award for 2019.

“Much of Dr. Lok’s work uses virtual humans and mixed reality to train communication skills,” said Dr. David Norton, the vice president of the Office of Research, who introduced Lok at the event. “His technology is at work in Shadow Health — and he hasn’t stopped creating yet — serves 1,500 plus nursing schools, providing more than 200 million virtual patient encounters a year.

“Ben’s future is bright — and so is the award we want to give him today as this year’s Innovator of the Year.”

Lok is a founder of Shadow Health, an education company that trains health professional students using virtual patient experiences. The company has grown to a team of 100 members from its original two founders.

While accepting his award, Lok encouraged the innovators in the room enjoying the reception at UF Innovate | The Hub to continue working with Tech Licensing to maximize the potential of their inventions — and urged them to consider starting a company. Those attending had disclosed, licensed or optioned a technology in FY19.

“How can you increase the impact of your career?” Lok asked attendees. “The challenge that I give to all of you is this: Every three months spend some time reflecting ‘what’s the best way I can make an impact with my career?’ And, hopefully, part of that might include disclosing an invention.”

Each of the seven licensing teams in Tech Licensing chose one invention disclosed in FY19 to be an Invention of the Year. The office receives nearly 350 invention disclosures each year; each licensing officer selected one technology.

Among the winners was My T. Thai, Ph.D., a CISE professor, and Drs. Thang Dinh, Lan Nguyen, and Truc Nguyen for what licensing officer Dr. Rick Croley said was the “best embodiment of the wildly popular block-chain technology.” At the event, Thai received recognition for “OptChain: Optimal Transactions Sharding for Scalable Blockchain.”

See the full article by Sara Dagen,marketing & communications manager, UF Innovate.