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TTOs hunt for investors, new commercialization opportunities in overseas markets


By David Schwartz
Published: July 20th, 2016

Virtually every TTO is under constant pressure to find more partnerships and sign more deals that are far from easy to secure. But what if you expanded your territory — and your potential chances for success — by setting up shop on the other side of the globe? That’s the thinking behind a growing number of international initiatives TTOs are spearheading in the hopes that they can eventually leverage new ties overseas into benefits with lasting impact at home.

While many of these forays build on existing relationships a university may have with a like-minded institution in another country, there is no denying the layers of complexity involved when you seek to do business in another cultural, legal and business environment. However, the TTOs engaged in these activities believe their efforts are well worth the up-front investments in time and resources. In fact, some make the case that it is their duty to chase down such opportunities, given the clear trend toward globalization.

It is all about making connections, according to John Flavin, director of the Chicago Innovation Exchange (CIE), a start-up engine/incubator hub at the University of Chicago. “We are an enabler of connectivity of students, faculty and staff to the external ecosystem, whether that be locally or around the globe,” he explains. “In order to build a business in today’s marketplace, particularly a business that involves technology, you need to be aware of the global market from day one.”

Consequently, to build a global strategy for his efforts, Flavin has zeroed in on where the university already has a footprint in emerging markets. “The university has a center in Beijing and a presence in Hong Kong … so China was a first step in this direction, beginning with a partnership with Shandong University.”

The Qingdao, China-based school has similar interests, wanting to develop its entrepreneurship program and to build an innovation college, notes Flavin. “They wanted to learn about some of the activities that we had, and they also wanted an opportunity to expose some of their stakeholders, including investors, to opportunities in the United States emerging from places like Chicago,” he says. “We were interested in connecting our companies to investors and potential markets in China.”

While the relationship is new, it is has begun to pay dividends. Several CIE start-ups have already been to Quindío to compete for prize money as part of the Sino-U.S. Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition, jointly sponsored by Shandong University and the city of Qingdao, with two of the companies wining prize money.

“What it did was expose companies to the Qingdao opportunities,” explains Flavin. “There were partnership discussions that took place in addition to the opportunity for the teams to compete for investment dollars.”

China offers some singular advantages that seem tailor-made for early-stage innovations, according to Flavin. Specifically, Chinese investors seem more willing to take a shot on earlier stage technologies, especially with respect to companies that have an interest in the Chinese markets and “particularly in areas where the Chinese government has a strategic interest such as in the life sciences and biotechnology,” he explains. The Chinese government even provides financial support, in some cases, which serves to mitigate some of the risk of these early-stage investments, adds Flavin.

“When you look at the Chinese market from a pharmaceutical perspective, it is a growing market. The businesses that have historically been manufacturers in the Chinese marketplace are increasing in number, and there is greater attention and focus around early-stage, novel technologies where capital is needed and IP is usually at the heart of those technologies, whether they involve a new drug, a new device or a new diagnostic tool,” he explains. “The need for capital is intense for the development of these types of regulated products, and you are seeing an increased talent pool and an increased set of activities in China that make it an ideal place to develop some of these technologies.”

CIE’s foray into the Chinese market is just one of the university efforts at tapping international markets and partnerships featured in an in-depth report in the July issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe and access the full article, along with the publication’s rich archive featuring hundreds of case studies and success strategies for TTOs, CLICK HERE.

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MRC Technology nets $150M in royalty monetization deal for cancer drug


By David Schwartz
Published: July 20th, 2016

UK-based medical research charity MRC Technology has monetized some of its royalty interest in leading cancer drug Keytruda for $150 million. continue reading »

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Blurred Lines and Gray Areas: Managing Conflicts of Interest in University Tech Transfer and Sponsored Research


By David Schwartz
Published: July 20th, 2016

Managing conflicts of interest (COIs) between funding sources, faculty researchers, and the start-ups they create is always a tough challenge for tech transfer offices – one that requires much coordination between departments at the university.

Although TTOs recognize that conflicts are a given during the process of transferring IP either through a license agreement, spinoff, or other arrangement, managing and mitigating those COIs is a seemingly never ending battle. Most university IP policies draw clear lines around common conflicts, but in reality very seldom do COIs involved clear lines – more often gray areas that are fraught with hazards that can lead to bad publicity, loss of funding, and legal consequences that can nearly disable ongoing tech transfer efforts.

That’s why we’ve invited two COI experts to lead this practical webinar, scheduled for August 16: Blurred Lines and Gray Areas: Managing Conflicts of Interest in University Tech Transfer and Sponsored Research.

For complete program and faculty details and to register, CLICK HERE.

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AUTM taps Wellspring to strengthen its online technology portal


By David Schwartz
Published: July 20th, 2016

The Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) has selected Wellspring as its technology partner in the association’s efforts to enhance the Global Technology Portal, where members can list available technologies for license. continue reading »

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UMass licenses “excipient food” technology that enhances absorption of drugs and vitamins


By David Schwartz
Published: July 20th, 2016

The University of Massachusetts (UMass) in Amherst and business development firm Kayon Partners are forming a new company to commercialize a unique food technology developed by a university researcher. continue reading »

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Mayo Clinic creates unusual pitch competition to select commercialization partners


By David Schwartz
Published: July 20th, 2016

Nonprofit healthcare center Mayo Clinic is running a different kind of pitch competition in which it will grant one company or entrepreneur $50,000 and the chance to license a Mayo technology and commercialize it. continue reading »

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U Arizona licenses commodity risk-price data web application


By David Schwartz
Published: July 20th, 2016

The University of Arizona has licensed a commodity price-risk management web application to Tucson start-up company HedgeSmart LLC. The data and the application it’s being used in were compiled and developed by Roger Dahlgran, PhD, UA associate professor of agricultural and resource economics at the school’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. continue reading »

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Israeli start-up crowdfunds nearly $100,000 to develop synthetic chicken meat


By David Schwartz
Published: July 20th, 2016

An Israeli start-up is nearing its $100,000 crowdfunding goal to commercialize its lab-grown, synthetic chicken meat. Spun out of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, SuperMeat aims to produce the first ever cultured chicken meat within the next two years. The start-up plans to bring the finished product to market by 2021. continue reading »

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U of Illinois start-up’s ag-tech innovation could help save farmers thousands


By David Schwartz
Published: July 20th, 2016

A start-up at the University of Illinois (U of I) plans to save farmers thousands of dollars per harvest by implementing unique sensors in grain silos. continue reading »

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Memorial U of Newfoundland launches tech transfer office


By David Schwartz
Published: July 20th, 2016

The Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) has established a technology transfer office to support a new push to strengthen its research commercialization efforts. continue reading »

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Best practices for TTOs in one convenient resource


By David Schwartz
Published: July 20th, 2016

The Technology Transfer Tactics BEST PRACTICES COMPENDIUM is a must-have 492-page resource that’s chock-full of how-to strategies and proven best practices covering a comprehensive range of the most critical challenges facing tech transfer professionals. The BEST PRACTICES COMPENDIUM offers a cost-effective way to learn from successful tactics and programs developed and implemented by colleagues at tech transfer offices across the country.

With this comprehensive reference you’ll boost your program’s results with unprecedented access to proven best practices implemented by dozens of top TTOs. This new resource is packed with detailed tips, tactics, ideas, expert guidance, and nuts and bolts solutions in 11 critical technology transfer areas: marketing, start-ups, faculty outreach, operations and staffing, portfolio management, contracting and licensing, funding, partnerships, policies & procedures, patent and legal issues, and economic development. For details, a complete table of contents, and to order, CLICK HERE >>

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Global engineering company partners with Penn State to launch innovation center


By David Schwartz
Published: July 20th, 2016

UK-based global engineering firm Morgan Advanced Materials is opening a 30,000-square-foot research and design center at Penn State’s Innovation Park. continue reading »

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