Sept. 12, 2007 – The Sorenson Legacy Foundation, a charitable organization established by the James LeVoy Sorenson family, today donated $6 million to the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business for the creation of an interdisciplinary center for the study of discovery and innovation.
Named after James LeVoy Sorenson, a Utah medical device inventor who helped pioneer today’s biotechnology industry, the new center will encourage a multidisciplinary examination of innovation and discovery as the primary tools in human progress and economic development. Collaborating with entrepreneurs and industry, the center hopes to tap into the undeveloped and overlooked creative potential of faculty, students and citizens in ways that enrich our community as a whole.
The new center is aptly named, said director Shirlayne Quayle. “James LeVoy Sorenson is Utah’s greatest inventor and ranks among the greatest inventors who ever lived. There is no one who would be a better namesake for our center.” Sorenson is known foremost for developing the first computerized heart monitoring system, he also invented the first modern venous catheters and the first disposable surgical masks. Many of his medical devices are standard equipment in healthcare today.
A dynamic entrepreneur, Sorenson also devised cost-effective ways to manufacture his healthcare products. Sorenson Research played a major role in creating Abbott Critical Care Systems, now Hospira, and Becton Dickinson Vascular Access. “My father’s early career is striking for his ingenuity in solving perplexing healthcare delivery problems,” said oldest son, James Lee Sorenson. “And over the years, my father has never stopped thinking out-of-the-box. With projects like the non-profit Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, he is still pushing the envelope and finds new ideas that can lead to a better world for all of us.”
The new center’s focus on innovation and discovery is emblematic of the University’s commitment to new technology and entrepreneurship, said Quayle. “Many people don’t know that the University launched 17 new companies last year,” she said. “For example, the University started nFocus, which is developing an auto-focus micro-lens slightly larger than a pencil lead for use in cell phones and digital cameras. The design idea came from students.”
With offices in the soon-to-be renovated and expanded David Eccles School of Business, the center will have staff and the funds to name a world-renown Chair of Discovery and Innovation Studies to oversee and direct research. Research grants will go to faculty in any department working on interdisciplinary innovation- and discovery-related projects. The center will sponsor the Tech Titans Innovation Challenge, which is a statewide student idea and design competition. It will also sponsor two conferences: the Sorenson Showcase, a premier networking event for entrepreneurs, inventors and the business community, and the Product and Process Innovation Winter Conference for academics in Park City.
“The James LeVoy Sorenson Center celebrates the genius of discovery and supports studies that help mankind better understand the mental and organizational processes that support successful innovation,” said Jack Brittain, dean of the David Eccles School of Business and vice president of Technology Venture Development. “While few can hope to match the inventive creativity of James LeVoy Sorenson, we can learn how he and other successful inventors think. We aim to challenge the limits of knowledge and produce fresh insights that can form the basis for future innovations.
“It takes a University to match the creative genius of a man like James LeVoy Sorenson,” said Brittain.,”and the University of Utah is honored to host this center and accept the challenge of living up to Mr. Sorenson’s legacy.”
About Sorenson Legacy Foundation
The Sorenson Legacy Foundation is a non-profit corporation established by the James LeVoy Sorenson family for the exclusive purpose of promoting charitable, religious, educational, literary and scientific endeavors. The Foundation is qualified under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.