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U Minnesota launches “Try and Buy” program, allows companies to “test drive” IP


By David Schwartz
Published: April 2nd, 2014

Following up on the positive response to its MN-IP Create program, which takes a lot of the “guesswork” out of sponsored research agreements and offers industry-friendly terms, the University of Minnesota has launched “MN-IP Try and Buy,” which is designed to provide easy access to technologies already developed by the university.

In short, the Try and Buy program will allow interested companies to take technologies for a “test run” before deciding whether to make a more permanent commitment. Companies are granted a low-cost, flat fee agreement to analyze technology under pre-negotiated licensing terms for a trial period. The idea is that by removing the risk of a long-term license, including patent costs, the licensee can first make sure the technology is a good fit and has real commercialization potential. By lowering the risk, the TTO should get more IP into the commercial pipeline, tech transfer leaders reason.

The program comes as a follow-up and supplement of sorts to the university’s MN-IP Create program, which vastly simplifies the contracting process for sponsored research and employs industry-friendly features like pre-set license terms, exclusive worldwide rights, low royalty rates, and affordable prepayments.

“In both cases we are looking at being industry-friendly and embracing this open innovation push and paradigm many companies support,” explains Rick Huebsch, associate director of the university’s OTC. “We want to do the same for existing IP [as we’ve done with sponsored research] — create partnerships for technologies at a research institution.”

The goal, he says, is simple: to have more companies accessing the technologies, to complete more transactions, and to get more technologies transferred. “We’re not looking to get every last penny or have every deal optimized,” says Huebsch. “It’s often difficult to predict how many will succeed, although a lot of universities do that. For us, it’s getting more companies to touch more of our technologies to get more of them transferred.”

Looking to license more technologies is on every TTO’s wish list, he continues, “but we’ve made a paradigm shift where the majority of our technologies will be out there and ready to buy. Basically, people will know what the price is and they can try before they buy. What used to be an exception is now a rule; the majority of our technologies will be available.” A detailed article on the Try and Buy program appears in the March issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To access the complete article, along with our subscriber-only archive filled with hundreds of practical articles, case studies and success strategies for TTOs, CLICK HERE.

Editor’s Note: Technology Transfer Tactics is hosting a webinar April 16th featuring U Minnesota’s tech transfer managers, who will provide an in-depth, detailed look at both the MN-IP Create and the Try and Buy programs, and how these groundbreaking sponsored research and licensing models are generating more deals and transforming the TTO’s relationships with industry. CLICK HERE for details.

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Webinar offers detailed look at U Minnesota’s “MN-IP Create” and “Try and Buy” programs


By David Schwartz
Published: April 2nd, 2014

TTOs are increasingly charged with the task of quantifying their impact on regional economies, and one proven way to boost results is by improving corporate access to university-developed technology. The challenges typically voiced by industry — long negotiations, complicated licensing terms, red tape, and risky financial terms — mean missed research and development partnership opportunities that could mean millions of dollars in funding, licensing, and new technologies being brought to market.

But there are proven ways to face these challenges head-on, and the University of Minnesota has raised the bar with its groundbreaking MN-IP Create and MN-IP Try and Buy programs — and they are ready to share their keys to success in this one-hour webinar workshop. Please join Rick Huebsch and Leza Besemann from the Office for Technology Commercialization at the University of Minnesota on Wednesday, April 16th for this innovative case-study style program: New Models of University-Industry Partnership: U Minnesota’s “MN-IP Create” and “Try and Buy” Programs.

These programs have dramatically improved the university’s ability to land new sponsored research and licensing deals, and in the process redefined the TTO as a highly sought after partner for corporations. For complete program details and to register, CLICK HERE.

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U of South Florida start-up takes its nutritional products to grocery store shelves


By David Schwartz
Published: April 2nd, 2014

A University of South Florida (USF) start-up has successfully taken its novel dietary supplements to market — the supermarket, to be specific. continue reading »

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How waiting to incorporate your start-up could create a big tax problem


By David Schwartz
Published: April 2nd, 2014

In a recent blog post, start-up guru Martin Zwilling takes a close look at Founder’s shares, and offers a list of special details that holders of these shares should bear in mind – with a particularly strong recommendation regarding when to incorporate. continue reading »

University Start-Up Boot Camp Volume II: Beyond the Basics ~ This exhaustive, invaluable collection contains over 11 hours of detailed guidance and advice led by a world-class roster of academic start-up experts. Click here for details >>

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Allied Minds partners with MITRE to license and fund start-ups out of federal labs


By David Schwartz
Published: April 2nd, 2014

Allied Minds, Inc., a Boston-based tech transfer firm that targets U.S. universities and federal labs, has partnered with the MITRE Corporation, a nonprofit organization currently operating six federal research centers, to help make government-sponsored innovations more accessible for outside licensing and commercialization. The collaboration will initially focus on technologies in cyber and mobile security, with the overarching goal of developing an efficient tech transfer vehicle to increase the availability of MITRE’s intellectual property and foster start-up creation.

continue reading »

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Yale startup turns properties of party drug “Special K” into novel treatment for depression


By David Schwartz
Published: April 2nd, 2014

A Yale-based biotech start-up is turning what it learned from studying a well-known party drug into a potential breakthrough treatment for severe depression and anxiety.
continue reading »

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Just published: Best Practices at Top University Business Incubators


By David Schwartz
Published: April 2nd, 2014

A well-run incubation program can have a long-lasting impact on both university start-up activity as well as the regional economy. The best university incubators are hotbeds of talent that produce a wave of successful companies to drive and sustain growth for the research enterprise as well as in terms of job growth and other critical economic benefits. But not all incubators produce stellar results. By studying and understanding the elements that go into operating the best-of-the-best university incubators, you can take critical steps to ensure your efforts attain similar long-term results for the university as well as the region.

That’s why we developed this unique, detailed reference: Best Practices at Top University Business Incubators – Cases and Insights 2014. Inside this all new, one-of-a-kind report, you’ll find detailed success stories and best practices from the top performing university incubators worldwide. This 70-page report features 12 in-depth studies detailing key strategies and insights from the world’s top university incubation managers. Each case study provides expert guidance broken down into four essential areas: business model, operational budget, incubator management, and deal flow and talent. For complete details, CLICK HERE.

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Purdue start-up developing more efficient way to make bioproducts


By David Schwartz
Published: April 2nd, 2014

Researchers at Purdue University aim to commercialize a process that could change the way biofuels and other bio-based products are made. Led by Mahdi Abu-Omar, the R.B. Wetherill Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and associate director of Purdue’s DOE-funded Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels (C3Bio), the start-up Spero Energy Inc. is mainly focused on novel ways to convert lignin in wood biomass and waste into liquid chemical products. continue reading »

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Purdue researchers develop computer chip with human-like ability to identify objects and images


By David Schwartz
Published: April 2nd, 2014

Also at Purdue, researchers are developing a computer chip that would enable smartphones and other devices to identify objects much like the human brain does. A start-up around the technology has just been launched. continue reading »

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What inventors need to know before describing an invention for a patent application


By David Schwartz
Published: April 2nd, 2014

In his recent blog post, patent attorney and founder of IPWatchdog Gene Quinn offers inventors some strong advice for when defining their inventions as part of the patent application process. continue reading »

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Comings and goings


By David Schwartz
Published: April 2nd, 2014

• University of Toledo Innovation Enterprises (UTIE), the school’s tech transfer arm, has named Rhonda Wingfield as the interim chief executive officer. In her previous role at UT as director of budget and planning, Wingfield has overseen UTIE’s finances since about 2010, according to the university. Now she plans to split her energy 50/50 between her current role and her new role at UTIE. One of her goals is to implement further elements of UTIE’s reorganization, including new committees to oversee and assist start-ups focused on renewable energy or information technologies. “We have a lot of companies on the cusp of doing something great,” says Wingfield. She succeeds Rick Stansley, also a former UT Board of Trustees chairman, who served as both CEO and board chairman until his resignation last month under a cloud of criticism. According to UT President Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, UTIE’s search for a permanent CEO will start in the next month or so, and will take about six months. Until then, he says, Wingfield is an ideal replacement, with natural leadership potential and a familiarity with UTIE’s portfolio. “She is a person of great integrity,” Jacobs says. Source: The Blade

• Mount Sinai Innovation Partners (MSIP), the tech transfer arm of Mount Sinai Hospital, has appointed research and technology veteran Erik Lium, PhD, to be Vice President and Executive Director. Lium more recently served as Assistant Vice Chancellor for Innovation, Technology and Alliances at the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF), where he led the school’s efforts to create public-private research partnerships, increase outside licensing, and boost university-based entrepreneurship. “Erik is a nationally recognized leader in innovation, public-private partnerships, technology transfer and commercialization,” says Scott L. Friedman, MD, Fishberg Professor of Medicine and Dean for Therapeutic Discovery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “I’m confident,” Friedman adds, “that under his leadership, MSIP’s role as a vital component of our institutional innovation agenda will expand.” Source: Digital Journal

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Study finds that industry-sponsored research is less exclusive, more beneficial than assumed


By David Schwartz
Published: March 26th, 2014

A new analysis from the University of California (UC)-Berkeley has come to a surprising conclusion: that collaborations between industry and academia lead to more innovative patents and licenses than federally sponsored research projects do.

Led by Brian Wright, UC-Berkeley professor of agricultural and resource economics, the analysis is based on two decades of records from the UC system. “There are two potential interpretations of the report,” says Joshua Rosenbloom, program director for Science of Science and Innovation Policy (SciSIP). “One is optimistic: corporate funding leads to research that is more likely to be commercialized and this greater focus is good. The second reading is that corporate funding shifts the focus of research away from basic science.”

Rosenbloom refers to the line of thinking that corporate-sponsored research is more tailored to one company’s needs rather than to the benefit of the general public, and that government-sponsored research is more geared toward basic research and innovations that target society at large.

But the UC study concludes that industry-sponsored inventions had the highest number of “forward citations” in their patent applications, the most widely used marker of patent’s quality and importance. More specifically, each industry collaboration generated an average of 12.8 forward citations, while government-sponsored inventions earned an average of 5.6 citations per application.

“This,” the study concludes, “runs counter to the expectation that corporate-sponsored inventions have narrow applications, and so create … few benefits for others.”

The UC authors also examined the notion that, because private companies often get first access to new university innovations stemming from sponsored research, they tend to tie up these discoveries in a way that restricts access to a broader audience. The study shows that corporations are no more likely to tie up research; in fact, there are fewer exclusive industry licenses than exclusive federal licenses, in terms of percentages.

“We didn’t expect these results,” says Wright. “We thought companies would be interested in applied research that was closer to being products, and thus more likely to be licensed exclusively and less cited than federally funded counterparts. But that did not turn out to be the case.”

Stephen Merrill, executive director of Science, Technology and Economic Policy at the National Academies and co-author of the UC report, comments, “Industry-funded research need not be locked up by corporate sponsors if both the sponsored research office and the tech transfer office take care in protecting and marketing the results.”

Source: EurekAlert!

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