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Initiating and Sustaining Early Stage Programs in Technology Innovation and Commercialization
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Initiating and Sustaining Early Stage Programs in Technology Innovation and Commercialization


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Four Michigan public universities, collaborating with private sector for-profit companies and state government agencies supporting technology commercialization and innovation, have successfully …

Four Michigan public universities, collaborating with private sector for-profit companies and state government agencies supporting technology commercialization and innovation, have successfully implemented methods for building and sustaining entrepreneurship, technology development and commercialization at emerging research institutions: distributing the cost, promoting best practices and affecting the cultural changes within institutions necessary for sustaining these activities. This program, led by Michigan Technological University has produced a model, termed U-TEAMED (Multi-University Technological and Expertise Assets Management for Enterprise Development). The emergent model offers guidance for identifying and capturing the important features of sustainable, faculty-led early-stage technology innovation and entrepreneurship education programs at emerging research institutions. Lessons include methods for securing revenue, sustaining faculty enthusiasm, anticipating IP and commercialization barriers derived from faculty-student collaborations, and creating an academic environment supportive of embedding technology innovation and entrepreneurship in academic curricula.

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  • 1. 1
  • 2. Randy Hansen Co-director, U-TEAMED Technology Asset Knowledge Management Infrastructure Innovation Emporium, Inc. Jim Baker Director, Technology and Economic Development U-TEAMED Project Director Michigan Technological University 2
  • 3.   Discuss : ◦  Connections between conventional technology transfer with entrepreneurship initiatives toward fulfilling economic engagement. ◦  Challenges faced by emerging research universities in taking full advantage of these connections. ◦  Present experience from a pilot collaborative program in the state of Michigan that may be helpful in overcoming these challenges. 3
  • 4.   Integrated with educational and research missions ◦  Educational opportunity in applied entrepreneurship ◦  Tremendous opportunity for mutual benefit between educational, research, and licensing practitioner domains   More than just patent licensing ◦  Knowledge Transfer ◦  Consulting ◦  Sponsored and Unsponsored Research 4
  • 5.   Transfer important research results to the public.   Service to faculty and inventors in dealing with industry arrangements and technology transfer issues;   Facilitate and encourage industrial research support;   Source of unrestricted funds for additional research;   Source of expertise in licensing and industrial contract negotiations;   A method by which the institution can comply with the requirements of laws such as the Bayh-Dole Act   A marketing tool to attract students, faculty, and external research funding. Adapted from Carlsson, B. and A. Fridh, “Technology transfer in United States universities – a survey and statistical analysis”, Journal of Evolutionary Economics (2002) 12: pp. 199-232. 5
  • 6.   Research niches struggle to obtain critical mass   High classroom teaching loads   Modest financial and support staff resources   Successes tend to be isolated and discrete and don’t attract significant attention 6
  • 7.   Pool resources   Leverage mutual and respective success for collective ‘buzz’   Aggregate resources to increase net mass ◦   Share technical expertise and business best practices 7
  • 8. Technology Transfer and Sponsored Research Development Partnership Original Partners: Michigan Technological University (lead) Eastern Michigan University Central Michigan University Oakland University Additional Partners Recently Added Lake Superior State University Ferris State University
  • 9. •  Initial discussions in 1997 •  First proposal seeking underwriting funding submitted in early 2002 – not funded –  Michigan Tech, Eastern, Central, Western, Oakland •  Pilot collaboration program sponsored under State grant in early 2003 –  Michigan Tech, Oakland, Western •  Full implementation of U-TEAMED sponsored under follow-on grant in Fall 2004 –  Michigan Tech, Central, Eastern, Oakland •  Partnership expanded under foundation funding in Fall of 2008 -  Ferris State and Lake Superior State
  • 10. 10
  • 11.   Objective: Establish a technology transfer function at each of the partner institutions. ◦  Outcome: Of the three partners without formal technology transfer functions prior to the pilot:   all have reviewed policies and procedures related to technology transfer functions   all have established and published procedures for submission of invention disclosures   all have reviewed procedures for specifying the IP provisions of research grants and contracts   one has established a program with dedicated staff   one has implemented a program but is evaluating cost effective staffing options   one has partnered with a campus technology incubator and has incorporated technology transfer objectives into its sponsored research office. 11
  • 12.   Objective: Increase research collaborations between individual researchers at each of the partner schools and with private industry. ◦  Outcomes:   Participants from all four partners have collaborated on the submission of proposals for innovation acceleration to NSF and other prospective sponsors   Faculty from all four partners have participated in an multi-university research conference, sponsored by the partners   Faculty from all four partners have initiated plans for inter-university research collaborations   Research asset information for the partners has been accessed on more than 25,000 visits to MichiganLink   To date, the collaboration has attracted the participation of at two additional public universities 12
  • 13.   Objective: Increase sponsored research at each partner university Goal Actual 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 FY 06 FY 07 FY 08 FY 09 13
  • 14.   Advance innovation and technology entrepreneurship interests on each of the campuses. ◦  Outcomes: Of the three partners without formal technology transfer functions prior to the pilot:   all have achieved greater institutional visibility for innovation and technology transfer   all have conducted training and instructional sessions to enhance faculty interest in advancing innovation and technology entrepreneurship   all are actively participating in innovation and technology-transfer processes at the state level ◦  All four partners have established innovation initiatives focused on advancing university-based technology start -ups and university-industry technology development. 14
  • 15.   Technology Transfer presence helped draw out innovators.   Leveraging experience lowered barriers to moving forward with third parties and accelerated transaction execution. ◦  Contextual experience/empathy is important in addressing the challenges emerging institutions face in moving things forward   High course loads   Limited budgets   Minimal staff
  • 16.   On-site personnel are necessary to maintain momentum through regular contact.   Asset promotion databases are useful but require resources to populate and maintain.   Faculty workloads limit time available for commercialization activities.   Consistent executive leadership and communication of technology transfer as a priority is essential to broad participation. ◦  Researchers respond to institutional priorities. ◦  Well thought out structures with executive buy-in are essential. ◦  Trust is necessary to work together and develop reasonable and productive structures.
  • 17.   Technology Transfer is part of the institution’s research and knowledge transfer portfolio not a stand-alone revenue generator   Broad spectrum metrics are important in addition to conventional things like royalties.   Process transparency, incentive equity, and thoughtful metrics are critical.   Be mindful of the institutional cultural state ◦  Risk aversion ◦  Revenue expectations ◦  Reward structures 17
  • 18.   Michigan Technology Tri-Corridor   Michigan 21st Century Jobs Fund   Michigan Universities Commercialization Initiative   Michigan Initiative for Innovation and Entrepreneurship 18 18