Industry-Sponsored Research Week

New position at Rutgers is part of “reimagined” corporate engagement team


By David Schwartz
Published: October 20th, 2020

A detailed article on Rutgers’ new Director of Entrepreneurship Partnerships position appears in the October issue of University-Industry Engagement Advisor. For subscription information, click here.

The recently announced position of Director of Entrepreneurship Partnerships at Rutgers University comes as the university works to essentially recreate its Corporate Engagement Center (CEC) after determining that something was lacking in its overall structure, according to Sacha Patera, PhD, associate vice president and head of the CEC.

“We have created the Corporate Engagement Center completely from scratch,” she says, noting that this opportunity resulted in the creation of two “uncommon” positions. “We hired Kara Moore in the position of Director of Corporate Intelligence and Assessment — a strategy person for ‘all things data,’” says Patera. “We want to make as many data-driven decisions as possible, such as [those involving] tiering, how to best spend time with industry partners, understanding where the relationships stand, what we should focus on, and what they are interested in.

“The other component,” she continues, “is at the moment we do not have a centralized entrepreneurship initiative, although that could change under our new president. There’s been a lot of entrepreneurial activity, but it has not coalesced into a single place.”

In, effect, she explains, that activity exists in “many places but perhaps with not very efficient coordination. Because we report to both the Office of Research and the Rutgers University Foundation, and Pavita [Pavita Howe, the new director of entrepreneurship partnerships] had a role in the Office of Research where she created and launched a gap fund program for technology development, it seemed to make sense to have somebody who would be a liaison to all entrepreneurship programs on campus while being able to assist the foundation with alumni inquiries. So we created this position and felt that Pavita would be able to fill these roles seamlessly.”

Patera says there is little precedent available at other universities on which to model this new position. “We really had to consider the needs of our stakeholders,” she admits. “We only had one position; do I need a frontline officer, or someone able to attend to the entrepreneurship niche? It really is a niche, different from the other things CEC does. It’s not quite a development role, it’s not research, yet we’re the right place to host this because of where we report to. We have an institutional purview, and now we’ll be able to be in all conversations about entrepreneurship strategies … and as they develop, we will continue to be in those conversations because now we have this role.”

According to a recent Rutgers news release, the goal of the new position, which started last November, is to make the CEC “the place to go to get information about Rutgers entrepreneurial activity; to connect external partners with entrepreneurial people and programs within the university; and to also provide access to resources and make valuable connections for entrepreneurs, investors, alumni and other Rutgers supporters within that community.”

How does Howe plan to accomplish these objectives? First, she feels her background and experience position her well. She worked extensively with tech start-ups in California, directing marketing efforts and new product launches, as well as helping with pitches to Silicon Valley investors. After moving to New Jersey, she started an entrepreneurship consultancy, and became a mentor for one of the state’s first accelerators. About four years ago she joined Rutgers, and in the Tech Advance gap fund program she was involved in the funding of 50 projects totaling $3.8 million.

Like Patera, Howe saw “a real gap” in the university’s entrepreneurship efforts. “Since we do not have an obvious entrepreneurship center, people may not know where to go if they want to connect,” she observes. “People are eager to know what the students and faculty are doing; they are all doing good things but with a somewhat limited audience. That’s one advantage of being in a university-wide position and having a marketing background — and now knowing something about the university’s entrepreneurial activities it became clear that we really needed to be able to tie all this together.”

Individuals, organizations, alumni, investors, and entrepreneurs all want to connect for different reasons, she explains.

“Experienced alumni investors or entrepreneurs may want to give back as mentors or speakers, or being judges on panels,” she offers. “Faculty who are entrepreneurial are looking for mentors, collaborators, research funding, or co-founders. We also hear from all sorts of entrepreneurs — faculty, students, or alumni. Who do they go to? How do they get plugged in?”

The other new position in CEC will prove quite helpful in these efforts, she continues. “There are many alumni entrepreneurs, some of whom have done extremely well,” Howe notes. “Kara sends us news or announcements about start-ups, which may say the founder is an alum or a vice president who just got $20 million in funding or launched an IPO. We find a lot of these people. Also, there are younger alumni entrepreneurs who need pre-seed funding or help growing their start-ups, or other alumni who might be good mentors or connections for these entrepreneurs. There may also be some philanthropic contact points.”

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Missouri U of Science and Technology lands $300M gift, largest in state history


By David Schwartz
Published: October 20th, 2020

Missouri University of Science and Technology has received a $300M donation, the largest single gift in the history of Missouri higher education, from St. Louis businessman and Missouri S&T alum Fred Kummer and his wife June. The gift will fund a foundation they created to support several initiatives at the university. continue reading »

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Webinar tomorrow — Faculty Consulting Agreements: Mitigating COIs while Supporting Faculty Inventors


By David Schwartz
Published: October 20th, 2020

Tech transfer and corporate relations offices have seen a dramatic increase in faculty engagements with private sector entities, often involving a consulting or other direct agreement that provides the company with access to the innovator to further develop a technology or company.

Simultaneous with this trend is the ever-present need for universities to maintain integrity in research, particularly with regard to conflicts of interest. This overlap — of consulting engagements with the university’s COI concerns — requires careful management and oversight.  Policies and procedures should provide clear structure and implementation, from the actual agreements to effective conflict of interest management frameworks. 

While these potential conflicts are often managed by academic units, TTOs and corporate relations offices typically have a unique relationship with both parties of the agreement and must take steps to understand these agreements while coordinating and conveying policies, procedures, and mission clarity to faculty inventors and to the companies it engages with to avoid common issues and pitfalls.

That’s why Tech Transfer Central has tapped a leading attorney expert for this important webinar: Faculty Consulting Agreements: Mitigating COIs while Supporting Faculty Inventors, scheduled for tomorrow, October 21st.

For complete program and faculty details or to register, click here.

Also coming soon:

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Ohio State and Honda mark two decades of partnership success


By David Schwartz
Published: October 20th, 2020

The Ohio State University and automaker Honda and are celebrating the 20-year anniversary of their first formal partnership agreement, which stemmed from their joint involvement in the Transportation Research Center (TRC) in East Liberty. continue reading »

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Effective Models of University-Industry Engagement: Case Studies in Success


By David Schwartz
Published: October 20th, 2020

Industry’s reliance on university collaborations for R&D is no longer just a trend — it has become more like a seismic shift. Innovation-starved corporations are eagerly seeking out university partners, but only those universities that have embraced this shift and prepared their campuses for a new level of integrated industry engagement will reap the benefits.

As part of its mission to support holistic industry engagement and assist universities in attracting more corporate partners, University-Industry Engagement Advisor has produced a distance learning collection featuring four leading universities that have used innovative strategies and proven programs to achieve robust relationships with corporate partners. Kansas State University, Brown University, the University of Georgia, and the University at Buffalo are prime examples of how to foster welcoming and comprehensive industry engagement initiatives that result in research funding, job creation, philanthropic funding, talent pipeline development, and economic development.

Effective Models of University-Industry Engagement: Case Studies in Success features the details behind each of these programs in four in-depth presentations. The collection comes complete with the original program materials and includes on-demand video as well as transcripts — so you can listen and share them with your entire staff at your convenience.

For complete details on this valuable collection, click here.

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Proveris Scientific collaborating with Australian universities on improved measurement of pharmaceutical aerosols


By David Schwartz
Published: October 20th, 2020

Two Australian universities are partnering with Proveris Scientific Corp., a leading provider of instrumentation and services focused on aerosol and spray products, on a project to develop a new generation of technologies for improving the measurement of pharmaceutical aerosols. continue reading »

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Funding Opportunity: The Trinity Challenge


By David Schwartz
Published: October 20th, 2020

A collection of 22 major corporations, foundations, and universities have launched The Trinity Challenge, a global coalition that aims to prevent the massive devastation seen with the COVID-19 pandemic from ever happening again. The initiative has announced the opening of its application portal for research submissions that will share in a £10m fund designed to enable research teams to scale up their ideas. continue reading »

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UIDP-Columbia Mailman free webinar: Keeping the Workforce Healthy, Safe, and Engaged


By David Schwartz
Published: October 20th, 2020

At this free webinar, scheduled for October 28th from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm, you’ll hear from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health experts who work with employer leadership to:  

  • Help determine evidence-based employee health guidelines and protocols to prevent infection;
  • Identify and address emerging workforce risks as the pandemic progresses into the winter months;
  • Use data tools tailored to the county level to produce forecasting insight and inform risk management strategy;
  • Help human resources professionals create strategies to handle new challenges in the COVID-19 climate; and
  • Address pandemic-related stress and other worker mental health issues through capacity building and training.

For details and to register, click here.

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Micro-internships proving an attractive alternative in the COVID era


By David Schwartz
Published: October 12th, 2020

A detailed article on the growing use of micro-internships appears in the October issue of University-Industry Engagement Advisor. For subscription information, click here.

Micro-internships can hardly be called “new,” but there’s no doubt they have become even more attractive since the advent of COVID-19. University leaders actively engaged with employers have shown increased interest as many traditional internships have been withdrawn by companies.

“In our current situation, with everything being virtual, beginning in the summer a lot of students who had opportunities saw them pulled back,” says Maureen Johnson of Wayne State University Career Services. “A lot of students out there said, ‘What do I do now?’ They reached out to me for other avenues they could pursue — even just volunteering. This [the micro-internship concept] is just perfect.”

“COVID was obviously the main driver,” adds Cheryl Brooks, PhD, associate provost for career & professional development at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. “We obviously had to move to remote; students currently on internships were brought back in April, with safety as a primary concern. So, we looked for what experience was out there that students could do remotely. Second, because everyone was looking for internships, they became very competitive to get. I thought: What’s like ‘half’ an internship? That would be a project.”

“We signed up for a [micro-internship] program three years ago, but not with the same urgency [we have now],” states Yolanda Seabrooks, Career Pathways Initiative project manager at Morgan State University. “We had it in a suite of things we offered students, but we did not have a coordinated strategy. With COVID and the loss of internships, they became a larger priority to share with the university community.”

“I was very lucky to have been part of a SoACE (Southern Association of Colleges and Employers) webinar on micro-internships in the fall of 2019,” recalls Elery K. Rojas, MBA, career specialist-internships for employer engagement at Florida International University. “As soon as the session ended, I signed up to have an info session with Jeffrey Moss (founder and CEO of ParkerDewey, the pioneer and leading firm in micro-internships), and then I was able to schedule a leadership meeting with him. We were fascinated with the untapped potential for our students. I quickly created a plan to start the ParkerDewey and Micro-internship soft launch for Spring 2021 on January 6th 2020, and with COVID hitting in March in Miami I was able to push the full launch of the program.”

According to Moss, during the COVID crisis micro-internships have become even more desirable for companies and universities whose brands are not extremely well known. “There are massive companies I never heard of and that college students have not heard of or do not apply to,” he notes. “If I’m a junior thinking of an internship, am I going to ‘take a chance’ on a start-up? Probably not. But if I am the same junior and I have the opportunity to do a project, yeah, I’ll work on that and see what I like.”

And for lesser known schools, he continues, the situation actually gets worse when companies start thinking more about budget and paring back on their focus schools. “All of a sudden, smaller colleges or schools that do not have a large number of alumni already working at companies have a disadvantage,” he points out.

Moss adds, however, that COVID has yielded a geographic silver lining. “Now, the budget for travel is not on the table,” he observes. “This can open up the funnel and you can start accessing students all over country. Yes, there’s history, where recruitment has been done, and what your ‘feeder schools’ are — but this micro model becomes a solution for that. ‘Let’s recruit at schools where we do not necessarily recruit.’”

The Parker-Dewey model, created about five years ago and now encompassing formal partnerships with about 400 universities and colleges, involves “engaging highly motivated college students to do a great job as freelancers — not just to earn money but to demonstrate their skills and to learn about the company. The company can get better work quality and help it compete more effectively.”

A micro-internship, he explains, will typically take a college student anywhere from 10 to 40 hours to complete and is usually due a few days to a few weeks after the project is assigned. “You may need someone to help you research and draft an article you need next week, or you may need someone to create a social media calendar,” says Moss. “These are short-term professional projects, 100% paid and paid fairly — on the average you’ll see $350-$400.” The company defines the project, and the student gets 90% of the fee. The remaining 10% is retained by Parker-Dewey to cover its cost. There are no additional fees if the company subsequently decides to hire the student.

“This does not replace the summer internship,” says Moss. “Think of summer internships as engagements and full-time employment as marriages; these are dates — you explore one another.”

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Penn State partners with Deloitte Foundation to support leadership development


By David Schwartz
Published: October 12th, 2020

Penn State has landed a commitment with long-time partner The Deloitte Foundation to match contributions from Deloitte professionals supporting the university’s Leadership Development Center, which will now be known as the Deloitte Foundation Leadership Development Center through the 2024-25 academic term. continue reading »

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The Status of VC and Angel Funding for University Start-ups During the Pandemic: Overcoming Current Challenges and Preparing for the Future


By David Schwartz
Published: October 12th, 2020

In the COVID-19 era, securing VC and angel funding for university start-ups is more of a challenge than ever for most ventures. For some, however, the technology needs associated with the pandemic have actually increased investor interest, but many university-based start-ups have been stalled to clear the way for emergency projects. At the same time, there’s plenty of money on the sidelines, but will it be deployed – and when, and to what sectors? 

In all the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and the struggling economy, it’s hard to know what the prospects are for funding, and how to proceed with your university’s start-up plans.

Tech Transfer Central’s Distance Learning Division has teamed up with Bryn Rees, assistant vice chancellor of research & innovation and managing director of Venture Partners for the University of Colorado Boulder, and Kirsten Leute, Partner in charge of University Relations with Osage University Partners (OUP), to bring you this critical webinar: The Status of VC and Angel Funding for University Start-ups During the Pandemic: Overcoming Current Challenges and Preparing for the Future, scheduled for this Thursday, October 15. We’ll cut through the confusion to provide you with supporting data and guidance on what to expect from angel and VC investors now and in the coming months as conditions change.

For complete details or to register, click here.

Also coming soon:

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Cork universities snag €8.7M for iEd Hub to work with industry on preparing students for pharma careers


By David Schwartz
Published: October 12th, 2020

University College Cork (UCC), Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), and nine industry partners have secured €8.7M in funding for the iEd Hub program, which helps graduates prepare for and find work in the pharmaceutical and medical goods sectors. continue reading »

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