Industry-Sponsored Research Week

UNH employs “sandpits” for targeted interactions with industry partners


By David Schwartz
Published: January 14th, 2020

When you hear the phrase “playing in the sandbox,” it often conjures up a vision of children amusing themselves together in a rather confined but enjoyable space. A number of universities — particularly in Asia and Europe — have loosely adapted this concept to a specific type of event they call “sandpits,” where academia, industry, and sometimes government can “play” together while addressing a key topic of the day.

The international University Industry Innovation Network (UIIN), for example, sponsored an AI sandpit in Sydney, Australia last February. “Sandpits are focused industry convening events that connect industry to lead academics based on particular areas of research,” UIIN explained in its promotion for the event. “It has shown to be an efficient, creative and high energy way of bringing researchers, businesspeople, and government representatives together into the same room to explore collaborations.”

The University of New Hampshire has clearly bought into the concept, running a series of biannual sandpits over the past several years. The latest sandpit, which focused on food and agriculture, took place on November 7. “When I came here (about six months ago) we had one geared around advanced manufacturing,” relates Marc Eichenberger, director of corporate engagement, who says the sandpits were originated at UNH by Marc Sedam, Associate Vice Provost for Innovation and New Ventures and Managing Director of UNHInnovation, after he learned about them from tech transfer veteran Dr. Kevin Cullen, former CEO of Innovations at the University of New South Wales and now  Vice President of Innovation and Economic Development at Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. “The main notion nvolves getting a bunch of university experts and researchers and mixing them up with industry people and government people so you can put them in a sandbox and they can ‘play,’” he says. “And they have to be from the same field.”

As an R1 university, he continues, UNH has “a whole lot of expertise in a number of areas, so we need to focus on bringing together university experts and relevant industry [to specifically zero in on one of them]. If we just did ‘everything’ and ‘anything’ it would be too complex.”

The subject areas, Eichenberger explains, are determined by, among other things, what businesses are important in New Hampshire. “For example, aerospace and defense had one, and then advanced manufacturing,” he notes. “It also depends on what’s going on in the sector, what expertise the university has, and if there’s enough interest in the region.”

Food and agriculture were a natural, he adds, because of UNH’s status as a land grant institution, and because of the technological revolution occurring in the industry. For example, he says, the sensor arena is growing to help identify fields where fertilizer is needed, and to address carbon impact. “There’s a whole slew of sensor tech data manipulation,” he says, “and AI to help determine how we grow and forest. Tractors now have sensors in the front indicating how much material has been released in the back when in the field. It’s very timely and exciting.”

A detailed article on UNH’s “sandpit” events appears in the December issue of University-Industry Engagement Advisor. For complete subscription details, click here.

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Author of study claiming no negative health impact from red meat failed to disclose industry funding


By David Schwartz
Published: January 14th, 2020

Guidelines published last fall in the prestigious Annals of Internal Medicine flew in the face prevailing scientific opinion, claiming there is no negative health impact from eating red or processed meat. After the guidelines were published, a number of nutrition and policy experts took issue with its methodology and claimed its authors, who have formed a group called NutriRECS, failed to disclose ties with AgriLife Research, an arm of Texas A&M University that is partially funded by the beef industry. continue reading »

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Webinar workshop this Thursday: Create a Winning Research Grant Budget and Maximize Available Award Dollars


By David Schwartz
Published: January 14th, 2020

Even though the technical and commercial review portions of every research grant proposal are important, grant reviewers understand that it’s the budget that moves your research from start to finish, and leaving money on the table can cause major problems for your project and its results.

Tech Transfer Central’s Distance Learning Division has partnered with federal grants and SBIR/STTR expert Kristen Parmelee, President of PCG, Inc., to bring you this workshop that will help you identify critical budgeting strategies and approaches based on NIH/NSF guidelines: Create a Winning Research Grant Budget and Maximize Available Award Dollars, scheduled for this Thursday, January 16, 2020. Attendees will learn expert tips and gain valuable insights into preparing a successful budget and budget narrative for your proposal. For complete details and to register, click here.

Also coming soon:

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U Michigan inks $10 million drug discovery partnership with Sun Pharma


By David Schwartz
Published: January 14th, 2020

The University of Michigan and Sun Pharma Advanced Research Company (SPARC) have launched a partnership to accelerate the development of potential new medicines for a wide range of diseases. Under the agreement, Sun Pharma will provide up to a total of $10 million in financial support and in-kind industry resources to move various promising drug-discovery research projects within the university toward the ultimate goal of new therapies for patients. continue reading »

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Tel Aviv U and ADAMA establish first-of-a-kind research and teaching center focused on crop protection technology


By David Schwartz
Published: January 14th, 2020

Tel Aviv University (TAU) and global crop protection company ADAMA Ltd. have launched a unique research and teaching program on active substance delivery and formulation, an innovation and growth driver in the worlds of agriculture and crop protection. The innovative, jointly developed study program will be taught at The ADAMA Center for Novel Crop Protection Delivery Systems at TAU. continue reading »

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Quantum computing companies partnering up with academia as IBM-Q Network rolls on


By David Schwartz
Published: January 14th, 2020

Toward the end of 2019, a flurry of announcements by some of the most prominent IT companies suggests that industry-academic collaborations will become increasingly competitive as the players jockey for position. The companies in question include some of the biggest in the industry, including IBM and Microsoft, as well as Amazon Web Services, a new entrant in the field. continue reading »

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2020 edition of Export Controls Compliance Practices Benchmarks for Higher Education released


By David Schwartz
Published: January 14th, 2020

The just-released 2020 edition of Export Controls Compliance Practices Benchmarks for Higher Education contains a wealth of data and in-depth analysis that’s become more critical than ever in light of intense scrutiny of foreign influence in research activity.

This one-of-a-kind resource provides a rich set of benchmarks and data to compare against your own practices and procedures regarding compliance with U.S. export control regulations and related strictures. You’ll find detailed data on staffing, budgets, data protection, legal costs, compliance training, and risk assessment, along with invaluable peer advice. This 92-page study is jam-packed with dozens of easy to scan charts and figures displaying critical data you can’t find in any other publication. 

For complete details and to order, click here.

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UC-Irvine and Diomics Corp. announce sponsored research agreement focused on islet transplants


By David Schwartz
Published: January 14th, 2020

The University of California, Irvine (UCI) and Diomics Corporation have entered a sponsored research agreement that aims to improve islet transplantation for patients living with type 1 diabetes. The program will be run in the lab of Dr. Jonathan Lakey, director of UCI’s Clinical Islet Program. continue reading »

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Boston Children’s Hospital enters collaboration for pre-clinical study of molecule targeting Sturge Weber syndrome


By David Schwartz
Published: January 14th, 2020

Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) has signed a sponsored research agreement with IDEAYA Biosciences, Inc., an oncology-focused precision medicine company, for preclinical evaluation of the role of protein kinase C (PKC) in Sturge Weber syndrome (SWS), a rare neurocutaneous disorder characterized by capillary malformations and associated with mutations in GNAQ. continue reading »

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Hat tip from UIDP to ASU’s “Panch” Panchanathan for nomination to lead NSF


By David Schwartz
Published: January 14th, 2020

UIDP congratulates Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan of Arizona State University on his nomination to lead the National Science Foundation — a well-deserved honor for this strong supporter of university-industry partnerships. UIDP will host its Contracting Forum on the Arizona State campus Jan. 28-29, 2020. Registration closes January 17. Join us there! For details, click here.

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Industry advisory councils create new opportunities for engagement


By David Schwartz
Published: January 7th, 2020

Having an advisory council consisting of industry leaders has long been seen as a benefit to industry engagement efforts and a key strategy in securing and nurturing partnerships. But the standard model of a single council covering the entire university is giving way to new structures that are more targeted to specific focus areas or departments.

Proponents say taking the more targeted approach with multiple councils can be more effective in strengthening ties with faculty and fostering their collaborations with companies. But observers say there is no one “right” way to go, and there are plenty of variations.

Australia’s Monash University, for example, follows the more traditional one university/one council approach. Texas A&M has two separate councils in engineering alone — one for the College of Engineering, and a newer group created in 2014 that advises the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) — the research arm of engineering for the university that focuses on research, workforce development and tech transfer.

At Duquesne University, advisory councils are even more targeted, with many of the university departments having their own advisory council. “This concept was suggested by the Dean, who wanted more structured, systemized help for those faculty and students in those majors,” says Valerie Williams, assistant professor of practice in accounting and director of both the Accounting Honors Institute and Accounting Mentorship Program.

“What councils have done for each of the functional areas is created a closer link between council members and faculty,” adds Kathleen Hartzel, PhD, chair of the accounting department. “You can easily send out an e-mail, pick up the phone and call. The relationships are much tighter.”

The Monash Industry Council of Advisers (MICA) includes chairpersons and CEOs from leading national and international corporations. “MICA will play an integral role in leading Monash University’s industry engagement strategy and provide the University with essential advice and counsel to Monash as we move to build much stronger ties and relationships with industry,” claims the university website.

“We wanted to represent the broadest take on industry,” adds Ken Sloan, deputy vice-chancellor and vice president at Monash, who notes that his school’s industry advisory council had been running for about two years when he assumed his position. “We’re not just looking at it from the profit sector; some members are from not-for-profit and government-funded industry. We also wanted to make sure there was some inside representation on the entrepreneurial side — people who have been CEOs of new ventures or of companies that work to establish new ventures.” At least some of the members, he adds, are always alumni.

At Duquesne, “to support the accounting program, the council includes members of the administration and accounting faculty and a diverse group of accounting professionals from both corporate and accounting firms including Big 4 firms, regional and smaller firms,” sayss Tom Garbe, executive in residence and former senior vice president at PNC Bank. “Over the years the council has worked on strategic plans, both for the accounting program and the school of business.” Garbe was involved with the council for many years before he retired and was appointed as a member of the restructured council in 2019.

“Our council is made up of industry – they do not have to be alumni — and it is set up truly as an advisory council,” says Cindy Lawley, PhD, assistant vice chancellor for academic and outreach programs and assistant dean for engineering academies at Texas A&M. “We have three subcommittees who work directly with industry. Throughout the year we look for new initiatives and try to stay relevant to what’s out there — what type of students they hire and new technologies. A lot of the focus is what are the needs of industry, what is the future, and how should we adapt — what should we teach our students? And a lot of it is forecasting.”

A detailed article on making effective use of industry advisory councils appears in the December issue of University-Industry Engagement Advisor. For complete subscription details, CLICK HERE.

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Two more research institutions caught up in federal crackdown on foreign influence


By David Schwartz
Published: January 7th, 2020

The turmoil surrounding the federal government’s crackdown on foreign influence in U.S. research activity continues, as the Justice Department reached a $5.5. million settlement with a Michigan research institute, and a Florida cancer center announced sudden resignations of its CEO, a VP, and four researchers. Both developments are related to misdeeds involving the Chinese government. continue reading »

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