Offspring From Technogenesis_GenomeWeb-2007 070409


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The folks at Stevens, with typical marketing acumen, have decided to kill off the useful term Technogenesis.

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Offspring From Technogenesis_GenomeWeb-2007 070409

  1. 1. Offspring from Stevens Institutes UndergradTechnogenesis Program Nabs $500KInvestmentApril 09, 2007Offspring from Stevens Institutes Undergrad TechnogenesisProgram Nabs $500K InvestmentBy Ben ButkusStevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ, last week said that Connecticut Innovationshas made a $500,000 seed-stage investment in Stevens Proof of Concept, a Stevens Institutespin-out company attempting to commercialize a point-of-care diagnostic device for pinpointingthe source of muscular pain.If successful, Stevens Proof of Concept, known as SPOC, will be another feather in the cap ofStevens’ Technogenesis program, which encourages all of its students, including undergraduates,to engage in entrepreneurship and technology commercialization along with institute faculty.SPOC was formed in July 2005 by Helena Wisniewski, vice president of university research andenterprise development at Stevens; Norman Marcus, a pain-management physician and clinicalassociate professor at New York University Medical Center and School of Medicine; and threesenior-year biomedical engineering students at Stevens.According to Patrick Berzinski, director of university communications at Stevens, the device hasits roots in Marcus’ New York-based pain-management clinic. Berzinski said that Marcusdeveloped a methodology for locating the exact source of muscular pain, or myofascial triggerpoints, using electrical stimuli.Berzinski said that through a personal contact at Stevens, Marcus became aware of Stevens’Technogenesis program which, among other commercialization initiatives, encourages theformation of senior-year student design teams to work on technology commercialization projects.“Dr. Marcus became aware that this was a possibility, and that they were a very economicalconsulting team to turn to,” Berzinski said. “They went through several prototype designs[while] they were still undergraduates. Basically they arrived at a very compact, streamlineddesign for this device, which could, with proprietary technology using electrical impulses, locatethe exact source of the pain in a muscle group by stimulating each muscle.”
  2. 2. According to Stevens Institute, approximately 100 million people in the US suffer from chronicpain and approximately 80 percent of Americans suffer from some form of pain in their lifetime,making the potential market for a point-of-care pain diagnostic device “enormous.”To commercialize its device, the Stevens team sought outside seed funding, and found it in theform of Connecticut Innovations, a quasi-public Connecticut-based organization that invests inearly-stage Connecticut technology companies, university/industry research, and technologytransfer.One of the stipulations of receiving the funding was that SPOC had to move its offices toConnecticut, which it has, setting up shop in Stamford.“SPOC set up its offices there to take advantage of [Connecticut Innovations] taking this interestin the company,” Berzinski said, adding that similar resources in New Jersey are “usually verycompetitive.”Stevens Institute has filed a US patent application, No. 20060224210, for the device.Marcus is named as an inventor on the patent along with former Stevens students Ryan Stellar,Jeckin Shah, and Daniel Silva. However, Stevens Institute is listed as the sole patent assignee,despite the fact that Marcus is a faculty member at NYU Medical School. In addition, accordingto Stevens, SPOC is testing the device in clinical trials at NYU Medical.It is unclear whether Marcus or NYU negotiated patenting rights to the technology prior to filing.Calls to Marcus’ New York offices were not returned in time for publication, and arepresentative from the NYU School of Medicine Office of Industrial Liaison/TechnologyTransfer was unaware of Marcus’ involvement in the project.According to Berzinski, Marcus is “a party to the company,” and Stevens Institute holds anundisclosed stake. “Often if these are patented technologies, and students have developed them,the students will be on the patents, and therefore will receive royalties,” Berzinski said.He added that negotiations for licensing will differ with each company and that Stevens “doesn’tdisclose details of who gets what to protect the privacy of the parties involved.”“The concept is that classroomeducation would include, forundergraduates, research andlaboratory development ofproducts from technology, andthat they could also come intocontact with real-world
  3. 3. A best-case scenario from Stevens’ perspective is thatindustry specialists who would SPOC goes on to fully develop and bring to market theassist in the commercialization device or, more likely, is acquired by a larger medicalprocess of the technology.” device company. The latter has happened before. In January 2006,Technogenesis spin-out PlasmaSol, which developed a technology called capillary dischargenon-thermal plasma, was acquired for $17.5 million by Stryker, which is using the technology toprovide equipment that sterilizes certain of its surgical products.And in 2005, Stevens spin-out HydroGlobe, which developed products to remove heavy metalsfrom water, was acquired for an undisclosed amount by Graver Technologies.“The philosophy behind it is that the sales of these companies – both the upfront payment andthe royalties from licensing technologies – comes back into the Technogenesis process, andbegins to act as seed money for new companies,” Berzinski said.The Technogenesis model is relatively new among university tech-transfer operations. Typically,only graduate students or faculty members participate in seeing basic research through tocommercialization. But Berzinski said that Stevens offers an undergraduate program in businessand technology.Students in that program form senior design teams that analyze potential markets and develop abusiness plan for commercializing a technology. “So we now have science, engineering, andbusiness undergrads coming together to work on these specific entrepreneurial technologyprojects,” Berzinski said.Berzinski added that such activity has “been going on for a while de facto at Stevens,” butaround 1999 the Technogenesis program was codified by Stevens researchers and the institute’spresident.“The concept is that classroom education would include, for undergraduates, research andlaboratory development of products from technology, and that they could also come into contactwith real-world industry specialists who would assist in the commercialization process of thetechnology,” Berzinski said. “That’s really been the direction of the curriculum over the lastseven years or so when it was put down on paper as a new way to do entrepreneurial education.”