The University of Michigan’s Technology Transfer Office is leading a new initiative with six other Michigan public universities to accelerate technology commercialization by connecting entrepreneurs and experts to ideas and IP. With a grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp, U-M formed a $2.4 million program called the Tech Transfer Talent Network. Other members of the initiative are Wayne State University, Michigan State University, Michigan Technological University, Western Michigan University, Grand Valley State University and Oakland University.
The university will leverage existing resources and strategies employed by its TTO to help its partners launch similar initiatives. For example, a U-M database called Catalyst, which lists private-sector entrepreneurs who have expressed a willingness to assist university innovators, will be repurposed for the other partner universities.
In addition, the new Tech Transfer Talent Network will help the universities form programs similar to UM’s Mentors-in-Residence initiative, through which entrepreneurs help assess market opportunities for university IP. “The primary goal of the Tech Transfer Talent Network is to increase the supply of seasoned entrepreneurs and innovators who can lend their expertise to university tech transfer offices,” U-M said in a news release. “These connections will serve as important bridges to launch technology-based startups or license university inventions to established companies.”
Ken Nisbet, executive director of the U-M Tech Transfer operation, says university innovators need help to develop their ideas and IP into products. “You may get early stage internal development funding, but if you cannot find the talent to assess commercialization issues, formulate development plans and execute on these plans, you’re not deploying that money well,” Nisbet said in a statement.