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Pinbone Wizard Technology Licensed to Juneau Business

The University of Alaska Fairbanks has licensed several patents for the use of the Pinbone Wizard, a fish bone removal machine, to a Juneau-based company.

“It’s a pretty cool machine,” said Mike Bell, owner and president of Freeman-Bell, the Juneau machine shop that bought the license. “Whoever developed this is awesome.”

The Pinbone Wizard is the brainchild of Larry Kozycki and Greg Shipman, the respective former and current managers of the UAF Geophysical Insitute Machine Shop. The two made the machine in the late 1990s after then-Gov. Tony Knowles appealed to Alaskans to help Alaska’s fisheries compete with farmed fish.

After many prototypes, the final machine is an electricity-powered, foot-controlled box with an opening in the top from which metal discs protrude slightly. When the user positions a fish fillet over an opening, the discs pull the pin bones out without damaging the flesh.

The small, versatile machine could be useful for not only individual fishermen but also operators of mid-sized processing plants.

Bell’s purchase includes the design plans and two machines ready for market. He hopes to manufacture and sell the units. Freeman-Bell already has several interested customers.

“It’s a small market, but it’s possible we could sell 25 to 30 units a year,” Bell said. “We’re figuring out the costs and what it will take.”

The university supports Alaska economic development by licensing in-house technology through UAF’s Office of Intellectual Property and Commercialization. The office patented the pinbone removal technology and transferred the patents to the Nanook Innovation Corp., a nonprofit organization that supports the university, which licensed the patents to Freeman-Bell.

“By licensing the university’s technology, Alaska’s small businesses can do what they do best — create wealth in the community,” said Daniel White, OIPC director. “This is a win-win-win for the university, Alaska’s businesses and Alaska consumers who receive superior products developed and produced in Alaska.”

UAF works with students, faculty and staff inventors who want to market their inventions. The Nanook Innovation Corp. was established in 2012 to license university technology to private businesses.

“The university is doing what it needs to do, which is creating economic opportunities in the state,” Bell said. “Because of that, it’s important that we do a good job with Pinbone Wizard.”

ON THE WEB: www.uaf.edu/oipc, www.nanookinnovation.org.

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