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Industry-Sponsored Research Management

Harvard start-up strikes multi-million-dollar deal with Chinese distributor for wearable education technology


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: May 24th, 2017

A Harvard University start-up has signed a multi-million-dollar deal with a leading Chinese import and export company to commercialize a wearable education technology. continue reading »

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Comings and goings


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: May 24th, 2017

The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Washington (UW) has chosen angel investor, start-up mentor, and former Cisco acquisitions manager Rob Adams to serve as its next director. At Cisco, Adams worked on due diligence related to 73 tech acquisitions over the course of 18 years. Since then, he has served as an angel investor and advisor to start-ups in Seattle and the Bay Area, as well as a consultant to VC and private equity clients.

“Our priority for this position was to find someone who is well connected in the Seattle entrepreneurial ecosystem, who loves working with students and who can continue to expand entrepreneurship across the University of Washington,” says James Jiambalvo, dean of the UW Foster School of Business. “Rob’s that person.”

“I’m grateful for this chance to build on the exceptional foundation that is the Buerk Center,” says Adams. “I’ll do my best to continue and expand on that work, as entrepreneurship becomes increasingly important for students’ future successes, regardless of their chosen careers.”

Source: Foster Blog

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How to use peer review to guide TTO performance improvement


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: May 17th, 2017

We’re all familiar with the warning: Be careful what you wish for. And that can certainly be true if you seek to learn the “absolute truth” about your TTO’s performance. But that is the aim of a peer review assessment process discussed in a panel session at the AUTM 2017 Annual Meeting last month.

Peer review is “typically absolute,” observed Ashley J. Stevens, D.Phil. (Oxon), CLP, RTTP, principal of Focus IP Group. In other words, he explained, it asks the question: “Is this office doing a good job?” as opposed to: “Are we doing the best we can with the [stuff] we get?” In short, it “looks at every aspect of an office’s performance.”

Why might a peer review be considered? There could be discontent in the ecosystem, said Stevens, or there might be a new director of research (“probably a very bad sign,” he observed), or it could be a routine, system-wide procedure. For example, his fellow panelist, Ruth Herzog, PhD, of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), noted that her institution conducts a peer review every five years.

Stevens pointed out that there are three options for the process: self-evaluation, local evaluation, and international evaluation.

A self-evaluation is often requested by management “to assure the TTO is state of the art, or if it needs to change,” Stevens said. These are led by the director, and can be “incredibly difficult,” he declared, because from the TTO’s point of view “if we thought things could be done any better we’d have already changed it.” What’s more, he added, they probably don’t recommend anything radical, except more resources, which management “really doesn’t want to hear.” In some cases, an internal peer review could be done pre-emptively to identify systemic problems.

In a local evaluation, management retains local consultants, with the benefit of providing results in a regional context. A similar evaluation done with international consultants loses the local context but gains a global one, so your choice should be based on which peers you wish to be compared against.

Stevens emphasized the importance of benchmarking as part of the peer review process. You need “a standardized set of data, or the willingness of your peer group to provide data not otherwise collected,” he explained. “You must benchmark against comparable institutions.”

Stevens suggested benchmarking in “3D” – disclosures, deals, and dollars. The peer group should be comparable in research volume, type of institution (public, private, teaching hospital) and the type of research conducted. The ecosystems should also be comparable – i.e., innovation hub, rust belt, cornfields, emerging economy.

It’s also important, he added, to benchmark variables that are under your control, such as disclosures per million dollars of research funding, increases year on year, patents, reimbursement, expenditures per disclosure, and expenditures per issued patent. The same applies to staff — for example, disclosures per FTE and caseload.

Other variables under your control, Stevens continued, include number of deals executed and license success rate, total number of active licenses, and startups (number, number based locally, number securing funding, number with full-time employees).

Just as important, warned Stevens, is that you “avoid variables that are not under your control like the plague.”

Take, for example, income. “Today’s income generally results from deals done by your predecessor — or theirs,” he noted. The same goes for “big hits.” These are random, said Stevens, and if you are tempted to take credit, you should remember that patents expire. “An amazing number of directors retire the year the big patent expires,” he observed.

“What you do control is current deal value – up-fronts, milestones, equity,” he concluded. A detailed article on conducting peer review assessments appears in the April issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe and access the full article, as well as the publication’s 10-year archive of proven best practices and success strategies for TTOs, CLICK HERE.

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How TTOs can improve the quality of invention disclosures


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: May 17th, 2017

In her recent article, Rebecca Stoughton, vice president of technology transfer support firm Fuentek, discusses improving the quality of invention disclosures as a means of improving  commercialization. continue reading »

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Stanford’s Katharine Ku to lead program on research agreements with philanthropic organizations


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: May 17th, 2017

Our Distance Learning Division is pleased to announce Katharine Ku of Stanford University as the program leader for Cultivating, Negotiating, and Managing Research Agreements with Philanthropic Organizations, scheduled for June 14. Katharine has years of first-hand experience dealing with research agreements involving non-profits, and she is ready to present this practical session that will take a detailed look at specific issues to consider before entering into a partnering deal.

For complete details and to register, CLICK HERE.

ALSO COMING SOON:

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U of Minnesota researchers develop electronic “skin” to make robots more sensitive


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: May 17th, 2017

Researchers at the University of Minnesota (UMN) have created a method to print stretchable, electronic “skin” that could help robots feel their environment more sensitively. continue reading »

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Duke fosters connections between students and alumni to boost entrepreneurship


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: May 17th, 2017

At Duke University, students and alumni are connecting with each other to boost entrepreneurship and innovation. continue reading »

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The Bridge Network launched, establishing Ireland’s largest tech transfer consortium


By Jason Norris
Published: May 17th, 2017

A new consortium called The Bridge Network has been launched at University College Cork (UCC). The network is comprised of TTOs from four institutions – UCC, Teagasc (the country’s Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Cork Institute of Technology, and Institute of Technology Tralee. The members boast a combined research revenue of €145 million. continue reading »

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2017 edition of Survey of Sponsored Research Agreements released


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: May 17th, 2017

The new 2017 edition of the Survey of Sponsored Research Agreements between the Private Sector and Higher Education is now available and includes 150 pages of key data and trends based on extensive survey results from major research universities and their agreements with private sector entities.

This one-of-a-kind resource provides a rich set of benchmarks and data to compare against your own sponsored research activity. It’s jam-packed with over 180 easy-to-scan charts and figures displaying critical data you can’t find in any other publication. The just-released report provides an in-depth look into key data so you can compare your practices and see how you stack up against other organizations — and use the data to point you to areas for improvement. For complete details, CLICK HERE >>

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How tech entrepreneurs can “feed” their start-ups for optimal growth


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: May 17th, 2017

In his recent blog post, startup mentor Martin Zwilling offers entrepreneurs seven ways to spark a breakthrough in their company’s growth. continue reading »

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Comings and goings


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: May 17th, 2017

Dalhousie University (Dal) in Nova Scotia has selected Jeff Larsen, a law and investment professional with experience in both private and public sectors, to lead the school’s start-up activity. Larsen has worked to support innovation at Dal since January 2016. In his new role, he will oversee the school’s Norman Newman Centre for Entrepreneurship, as well as its new Creative Destruction Lab Atlantic. Larsen says his overall goal is to accelerate all things related to innovation and entrepreneurship at Dal.

“Dalhousie plays an important role in developing the talent and generating the ideas and research that are critical to unlocking these opportunities,” Larsen comments. “We can have a significant impact through strong innovation and entrepreneurship programs, as well as partnering and collaborating with the entrepreneurs, mentors, incubators, accelerators and companies in the ecosystem.” His new role at Dal begins July 1st.

Source: The Chronicle Herald

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Social responsibility clauses in university IP licenses remain rare


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: May 10th, 2017

Social responsibility efforts seem to fit well with the TTO mission to serve the public good, but despite a number of efforts to promote IP license clauses focused on social responsibility, few deals actually contain these provisions.

Among the more prominent attempts to move the needle on social responsibility is the AUTM Nine Points to Consider, whose Point 9 urges universities to “construct licensing arrangements in ways that ensure … underprivileged populations have low- or no-cost access to [licensed] medical innovations.” The principles outlined in the Nine Points were signed onto by more than 100 universities.

AUTM has also put out a Global Health Toolkit featuring a wide variety of sample terms and clauses that can or have been used in licensing efforts. The clauses included in the toolkit carve out special rules the licensee agrees to follow in countries considered undeveloped, such as agreement not to sue for infringement, mandatory sublicensing to allow low-cost distribution, reasonable costs for needy countries, mandatory development of IP, royalty waivers, and mandatory donation.

Another effort came with the 2013 accreditation standards of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), emphasizing the need for universities to show commitment to corporate social responsibility. The standards state that schools must “address, engage, and respond to current and emerging corporate social responsibility issues (e.g., diversity, sustainable development, environmental sustainability, and globalization of economic activity across cultures) through its policies, procedures, curricula, research, and/or outreach activities.”

With some notable exceptions, however, universities generally are not incorporating socially responsible licensing terms, says Ruben M. Mancha, PhD, assistant professor in the Technology, Operations and Information Management Division of the F. W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College. He is the lead author of a 2016 study that assessed the prevalence of social responsibility efforts in tech transfer.

Reviewing the top 10 AUTM-reported universities in terms of federal research expenditures, Mancha and his colleagues found little evidence that TTOs consider social responsibility a priority. One of the more prominent exceptions can be found at the University of California Berkeley’s Office of Intellectual Property & Industry Research Alliances (IPIRA), which includes corporate social responsibility agreements in some licensing contracts as part of Berkeley’s Socially Responsible Licensing Program.

Assistant Vice Chancellor Carol Mimura, PhD, outlined the process in a 2010 memo to TTO staff. In it, she urges licensing staff, “Please remember that even before discussing contract terms we should discuss with all parties (including inventors and authors of creative works) not patenting or not patenting in certain geographies, patent pools, technology trusts, commons (such as for software), open source licenses, and other incentives to achieving the goal of social impact, access and affordability through our initiatives.” She also offers many examples of contract terms and clauses that could accompany those efforts.

A detailed article on social responsibility clauses in IP licensing, including links to key source documents, appears in the April issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe and access the full article, as well as the publication’s rich 10-year archive of best practices and expert guidance for TTOs, CLICK HERE.

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