Year in Review: Highlights from 2023


by Charles Litton, UNeMed | December 22, 2023

It’s that time again where we look back at the year that was 2023. In keeping with tradition, here’s a look at some of the more popular and important stories, events and happenings during the previous year:

1. Boot Camp

When the Tech Transfer Boot Camp returned following a pandemic-induced two-year hiatus, it wasn’t without concern that it wouldn’t regain its popularity. We were delighted to to see that our concerns were unjustified, but was 2022 just an anomaly? Apparently not. Announcing the 2023 installment of Boot Camp became our most popular story, even overtaking the Innovation Awards at the top spot. As Boot Camp hits its stride, we can safely say the popular event isn’t going anywhere. In fact, plans to expand the offering with a spin-off event are in the works…stay tuned.

UNeMed President and CEO Michael Dixon, PhD, (right) presents UNMC researcher Rebekah Gundry,PhD, with the 2023 Emerging Inventor award during the Innovation Awards ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023

2. Innovation Week

Even though it was knocked off the top perch (barely), Innovation Week—and the Innovation Awards—remain a massive driver of traffic to this site. Even stories detailing previous award shows remain popular. The most recent Awards show was our second as an in-person event since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the 2020 and 2021 ceremonies to virtual space.

3. Board of Directors expands

UNeMed landed a few big fish to join its board of directors during 2023. The announcements attracted a lot of attention, which is no small surprise when you learn more about the new additions: Kimberly Lamb, PhD; Michael Bishop, PhD; and Alexi Wellman.

4. Brianna Hetland’s banner year

There was a stretch at one point where it seemed as though our news feed was dedicated to the sole purpose of reporting the tribulations of one inventor, Breanna Hetland, PhD. The nursing professor founded Remote ICU, a startup based on one of her innovations, and has been tearing through the national entrepreneur community with impressive zeal: Landing a regional nursing award for innovation, a spot in a national mentoring program, and a fellowship for startups built from nursing innovations. Her technology, The Family Room—which helps families, patients and caregivers better communicate during acute hospitalizations—is the basis of her startup…which, by the way, ended up winning the top prize of a national pitch competition.

5. Napkin contest returns

The return of the Back-O-the-Napkin contest appeared to be welcome news to readers and inventors, as was the follow-up story announcing the eventual winners. The continuing popularity of the contest ensures that it will enjoy continued existence, especially as an easy way for University inventors to get the ball rolling on protecting and commercializing their innovations.

6. Idea Pub returns

Again, it didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, but announcing the return of a UNeMed networking event clearly resonated with our entrepreneurial and innovator friends, both inside the University and from the wider Omaha community. Future versions of the event will likely include additional elements as we continue building and growing the event. Stay tuned.

7. Vireo expansion continues

In early 2023, Vireo Resources celebrated the grand opening of the first U.S. creatine production facility, located in Plattsmouth, Neb. The $16.6 million project increased the existing facility to 70,000 square feet, and Vireo plans to expand the payroll to 200 employees while creating about $174 million in annual economic impact to the area.

8. Annual Report

UNeMed’s annual reports have always been a popular feature here, and the 2023 installment was no exception.

9. Networking opportunity

When the Nebraska Startup Academy announced regular “VC Office Hours” every Wednesday in Omaha, it showed just how big and engaged the local entrepreneurial ecosystem has become. Typically, this list would include hugely popular stories about our most successful startups such as Virtual Incision, which completed a clinical study and landed $30 million in additional investments. Or the announcement about Exavir Therapeutics and its new $3 million NIAD grant. Still, the growth of opportunities to meet, share and help other entrepreneurs is apparently a strong pull for our readers.

10. Inventor’s Guide to Technology Transfer

Our 82-page guide takes the “kitchen-sink” approach to helping University faculty, students and staff navigate a sometimes arcane system for inventing, protecting and eventually commercializing innovations. It continues to remain one of the more popular features here.


Several posts from previous years remain popular and relevant, particularly those that focus on day-to-day operations and legal issues associated with intellectual property.

  1. The Importance of Technology Transfer
  2. Five important aspects of copyrights that you should know
  3. Veins and arteries are just pipes, right?
  4. How to determine who is an inventor on a patent: Unraveling inventorship vs. authorship
  5. Technology Transfer 101: Defining Research Commercialization

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