Industry-Sponsored Research Week
University-Industry Engagement Advisor

VA Tech pushes to take its industry engagement efforts international


By David Schwartz
Published: November 30th, 2021

A detailed article on Virginia Tech’s push for international industry collaborations appears in the November issue of University-Industry Engagement Advisor. For subscription information, click here. 

The Virginia Tech Office of Research and Innovation is making a concerted effort to take its corporate engagement efforts international. In fact, these efforts have gone so far as setting up Virginia Tech Centers in other nations, linking with local institutions to create and pursue collaborations with key industry partners.

That’s music to the ears of Daniel Sui, vice president for research and innovation, who came to his position about a year ago with the academic training and professional goals that made his hiring a natural fit.

“I’m a geographer by training,” he shares. “I’ve been in 35 different countries and have had a lot of international collaborations because of the work I do.”

It is part of the university’s strategic plan ambition, he continues, to become “a global land grant university, improving its visibility on the international stage. In order to do that, you have to conduct cutting-edge research with potentially broader impact,” he notes. “But to have that broader impact on all of the major changes facing humanity — climate change, terrorism, and so on — you could not do it if you concentrated just within the boundaries of the U.S. In my role it is almost an imperative; if you want your research to have a global impact, you’d better work closely with a global set of partners.”

Pursuing such collaborations, he concedes, is challenging. “In addition to cultural political differences, these days there is a growing national sentiment which puts additional stress on international research,” he comments. “Faculty are concerned, federal funding agencies have increasing sensitivity regarding research security — especially with IP involved. For me, as a researcher and in my duties, there is a very delicate balance I have to maintain. But moving forward at Virginia Tech our marching orders are to do whatever we can to facilitate international partnerships.”

And the benefits of success, he continues, are many. “When you have international partners you have additional intellectual scientific expertise, and you diversify the expertise in your team,” says Sui. “Then, there’s data sharing — if you do not have an international partner, you have a limited data set. And there is research infrastructure; some international partners have better facilities than others. All of this really improves the depth of your projects.”

Sui has a natural partner in Guru Ghosh, vice president for outreach and international affairs, who has been with the university for about 10 years and has seen significant growth on the international front, including in research and corporate partnership. His role includes spearheading implementation of the university’s International Strategic Plan.

“Our former president wanted us to operate in foreign countries, but you had to have legal entities there in order to garner investments from governments,” he notes. “One of the first was in Switzerland. We set up study abroad programs. Second, a large emphasis was placed in India; [the president] really challenged us to focus on research and commercialization, and to work with India. Many Indian universities have come to visit Virginia Tech and asked us to build similar research centers on their campuses.”

One such center focuses on frontier materials, where research involves a system to convert coal into graphite — a key material for the 21st century, according to Ghosh. One of the companies that Virginia Tech’s corporate legal entity in India is partnering with is Mahindra & Mahindra Limited, a multinational automotive manufacturing company. The partnership is active in Chennai, which Ghosh refers to as “the Detroit of India” for its focus on the auto industry.

“We started working with Mahindra Tractor and Mahindra Automobiles, setting up partnerships to help train their employees in cybersecurity and data analytics, and other autonomous systems.”

Chennai, he continues, offers many other potential industry partners. “Every major automobile manufacturer has a research or production center in Chennai, including Lamby, Daimler, Ford, GM, 315 South Korean companies and 500 Japanese companies — not just automobiles, but components manufacturing companies,” he says. “They are all potential partners.”

In early 2022, he reports, a Virginia Tech research presence will be established on the campus of IIT (Indian Institute of Technology)-Madras. “We’ll set up a research office there,” he says. “Lots of industry works with their faculty, and we look to partner with them as well.”

Click here to continue reading this article with a subscription to University-Industry Engagement Advisor. Already a subscriber? Click here to log in.

→ No CommentsPosted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

Culture of suspicion spawned by DOJ’s “China Initiative” may work against U.S. interests


By David Schwartz
Published: November 30th, 2021

The “China Initiative,” the Department of Justice’s ongoing effort to crack down on foreign espionage or improper involvement in U.S.-funded university research, appears to be having a chilling effect on Chinese-American scientists that could ultimately hurt U.S. technology competitiveness while helping China, according to a report in the New York Times.

The Times chonicles several cases in which scientists of Chinese descent have been targeted by FBI investigators, with severe negative consequences on their lives and careers, without much evidence beyond what amounts to clerical errors in submitting disclosure forms – which are often confusing to begin with.

As a result of these types of cases, and what many Chinese-American scientists say is a culture of suspicion brough on by the DOJ crackdown, some top researchers are returning to China and bringing their technology know-how with them.

A recent study conducted by the University of Arizona surveyed scientists of both Chinese and non-Chinese descent, finding that half of the Chinese scientists surveyed — including some American citizens — felt they were being surveilled by the U.S. government.

It’s that climate that prompted nearly 2,000 academics from many top U.S. universities have signed open letters to Attorney General Merrick Garland expressing concerns that the initiative disproportionately targets researchers of Chinese descent and urging that the program be terminated.

“So much of our intellectual technological power is from immigrants,” said Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist at Stanford University and a former U.S. Secretary of Energy, who was one of those signing the letter. “We’re shooting ourselves not in the foot but in something close to the head.”

Many scientists have expressed frustration over what they say are shifting and overlapping disclosure guidelines from universities and funding agencies, which can result in FBI scrutiny. And some experts say the focus on college professors is misguided, and the real problems lie with bigger fish.

“I don’t think anybody doubts the Chinese government and C.C.P. are engaged in economic espionage and other malign behaviors,” said Michael German, a fellow at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice and a former F.B.I. agent. “So that’s where the U.S. government should focus its resources, instead of trying to grab easy statistical accomplishments by targeting college professors who have nothing to do with Chinese espionage.”

Source: The New York Times

Risk Assessment and Reporting Requirements for Foreign Research Relationships is a distance learning collection dedicated to improving your assessment strategies and compliance with reporting requirements. Click here for details.

→ No CommentsPosted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

Non-Monetary Metrics that Every TTO Should be Tracking: Measuring Your Collaborative Culture


By David Schwartz
Published: November 30th, 2021

Too many TTOs have tunnel vision when it comes to metrics, seeing only licenses, revenues, patents, start-ups and other “hard” measures as important to track. These are certainly important, but the singular focus on monetary metrics risks losing focus on many of the factors that underlie those more tangible results.

After all, these numbers don’t come out of thin air, but are built through a host of collaborative platforms and initiatives — and the surrounding culture — that nurture the commercialization outcomes getting so much attention from administrators.

The way these programs and cultural factors impact the bottom line is difficult to quantify, and their contributions often get lost in the shuffle. But one office that measures and showcases these non-monetary metrics is UNeMed, University of Nebraska Medical Center’s TTO. They’ve emphasized these functions as part of their collaborative culture and tied them to specific financial results.

To help you learn from their experience and successes, Tech Transfer Central has teamed up with UNeMed’s Michael Dixon, PhD, President & CEO, and Joe Runge, Business Development Manager, to present this detailed, strategy-filled webinar: Non-Monetary Metrics that Every TTO Should be Tracking: Measuring Your Collaborative Culture, schedule for December 16th. For complete program details or to register, click here.

Also coming soon:

→ No CommentsPosted under: University-Industry Engagement Week, Webinars

U Minnesota nursing school partners with Essentia Health to enhance skills, fill jobs pipeline


By David Schwartz
Published: November 30th, 2021

The University of Minnesota School of Nursing is partnering with Essentia Health, an integrated health system serving Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota, in a bid to create a nursing talent pipeline. The partners also see collaboration as vehicle for enhancing skills, creating a think-tank and incubator for creativity and innovation among nursing faculty, staff and students. continue reading »

→ No CommentsPosted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Healthcare Sector: From Idea to Funding to Launch


By David Schwartz
Published: November 30th, 2021

Many physicians, nurses, and other healthcare workers have valuable ideas for improving patient care, but the majority of these innovative ideas for new technologies never make it to market. Instead, many are sidetracked by the pressures of patient care and practice management or sabotaged by legal, financial and marketing complexities that are part of the innovation process.

The guidebook Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Healthcare Sector: From Idea to Funding to Launch offers proven strategies and real-world guidance for turning these new ideas into real-world products, patents, and profits. It combines clinical skills and business savvy with step-by-step guidance for moving beyond the generation of an idea to the creation of a business plan, the development of a proposal, and testing and evaluating a product.

Authored by Luis Pareras, MD, PhD, MBA, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Barcelona Medical Association, this 462-page reference provides a clear road map for nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit among clinical innovators and applying proven business principles to fast-track new ideas into the marketplace. Click here for more information.

→ No CommentsPosted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

Ontario launches ‘accelerator on steroids’ for electric vehicle tech with industry partners


By David Schwartz
Published: November 30th, 2021

Windsor, Ontario is looking to become the “automobility capital of Canada” as a new research hub with industry partners in the mix seeks to help build the country’s electric vehicle research activity and launch new ventures around the technology. continue reading »

→ No CommentsPosted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

UIDP Contracting Forum early registration ends December 6


By David Schwartz
Published: November 30th, 2021

Join your colleagues Jan. 26-27, 2022, at SkySong, the Arizona State University Scottsdale Innovation Center, for UIDP’s Contracting Forum.

By bringing together both industry and university perspectives, the event offers in-depth learning and networking that is unmatched by any other event. Co-chairs Gaylene Anderson of  Boerhinger Ingelheim and Jarrett Ellis with the Georgia Tech Research Corporation worked  with a stellar 21-member steering committee to craft an event featuring up-to-the-minute best practices for some of the thorniest issues in university-industry contracting.

The event will focus on intermediate and advanced topics during sessions across two days. (Click Here for speakers, agenda, and event details.) These sessions will not be recorded or available virtually, so plan to be there to get the most out of incredible discussions and networking with your peers.

Speakers and sessions include:

  • Foreground IP: Gaylene Anderson, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Andrew Watson, Mayo Clinic
  • Service Agreements and Work for Hire: Rajni Aneja, Cornell University, and Robin Beach, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Background Intellectual Property: Cristine Cooper-Trenbeath, Apple; Erin Hall, MIT
  • Hot Topics in Contracting: Jarrett Ellis, Georgia Tech Research Corporation, and Laura Nielsen, General Motors
  • Export Control and Foreign Influence: Kathy Gentry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Lynda Wolter and Greg Smith, Huron Consulting Group

Register for the UIDP Contracting Forum

→ No CommentsPosted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

Corporate Affiliates Program at Texas A&M speaks industry’s language


By David Schwartz
Published: November 22nd, 2021

A detailed article on TAMU AgriLife’s Corporate Affiliates Program appears in the November issue of University-Industry Engagement Advisor. For subscription information, click here. 

The Texas A&M AgriLife Corporate Affiliates Program (CAP), set to officially launch in 2022, is already actively soliciting industry partners for the initiative, which it anticipates will “foster and create relationships between Texas A&M AgriLife faculty and graduate students with our incredible industry peers consistent with our land grant mission,” says Patrick Stover, PhD, vice chancellor of Texas A&M AgriLife, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research. 

Stover says he hopes these relationships will accelerate scientific discovery and agricultural solutions to address some of the most challenging and complex issues facing agriculture, food, and health both in the United States and globally.”

The program came about through meetings between Stover, industry partners, and AgriLife’s external advisory board, says Heather Hirsch, program manager and CAP lead. “He saw the need to be able to engage with AgriLife at a very high level, because we are somewhat complicated in terms of how to navigate our ecosystem,” she explains. “There was a need to be able to provide people a doorway and a conduit.”

Hirsch hesitates to call the program “brand new,” but rather a transformation of prior corporate engagement efforts. “For us, it’s just a new way to think about relationships, and packaging that for the companies — to speak more in their terms and language,” she says. “We’d been doing some things on a fragmented basis; we just pulled it all together.”

“It” involves quite a number of programs and components. As outlined on its website, CAP programs and services fall under three main categories: “Collaborate,” “Innovate,” and “Recruit.”

Under “Collaborate,” AgriLife notes the following components offered to its corporate affiliates:

  • Biannual member’s meeting.
  • Joint proposal opportunities.
  • Industry partner event hosting for Texas A&M AgriLife events or participation in existing ones.
  • Texas A&M AgriLife liaison expertise to help navigate the university ecosystem and make connections.

The biannual member’s meeting, next slated for April 2022, enables members to network with faculty, collaborate on emerging topics, and interact with student talent. “Anyone can become a member,” says Hirsch, noting that it is a fee-based, yearly commitment. “A large company with 101 or more employees pay $6,000 a year; those with fewer employees, $2,000 per year,” she shares. “We wanted to keep the fee for smaller companies less, as we did not want to exclude some commodity, or production-oriented groups.”

The fee, she explains, pays for the program to sponsor networking events and put on the meetings. As for the liaisons, she continues, “CAP is all about a relationship with AgriLife, which means involving people. Each company will have a person to help them navigate, rather than go to the website, to get to the right place.” These individuals, she adds, “have infinite knowledge of AgriLife, so the companies are not given the run-around, or sitting on the other end of the computer, mindlessly surfing.”

Click here to continue reading this article with a subscription to University-Industry Engagement Advisor. Already a subscriber? Click here to log in.

Cultivate Winning University-Industry Relationships Through Corporate Affiliate Programs is a practical distance learning program featuring the University of Washington’s Todd Cleland, PhD, focused on how to structure, manage and grow various types of corporate affiliate programs. Click here for details.

→ No CommentsPosted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

UT-Dallas forms new hub for engagement with retail industry


By David Schwartz
Published: November 22nd, 2021

The University of Texas’ Naveen Jindal School of Management has formed a new center that aims to become a hub of connections between students and faculty and the retail industry. continue reading »

→ No CommentsPosted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

Returning Intellectual Property to the Inventor: How, Why, When…Then What?


By David Schwartz
Published: November 22nd, 2021

Once an invention is disclosed, the path to commercialization begins. Critical assessments then determine whether the technology has a market, a market need, and can be patented or otherwise IP-protected, and down the road it goes…

In some cases those assessments return with too many negatives, and in other cases the innovation stalls as it hits bumps in the road. There may be too little interest among licensees or investors, difficulty in scaling up, competition and regulatory risks, and many other challenges that can be too difficult to overcome despite the TTO’s best efforts.

Rather than having the case files simply gather dust, the intellectual property can be — and in many cases should be — released back to the inventor. But that also has its challenges. For one, you must be very clear on restrictions and rights when doing so because there are many players and factors to consider. There’s also the valuable relationship with the inventor, which should be preserved and even strengthened. A delicate touch is necessary to communicate why the IP is being released, what led to the decision, and what the rights of the university, funding sources, and faculty are in relation to the innovation.

To address these issues, Tech Transfer Central’s Distance Learning Division has teamed with Magdalena K. Morgan, PhD, Director of Licensing at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Innovation Gateway, for this insightful distance learning program: Returning Intellectual Property to the Inventor: How, Why, When…Then What?, schedule for January 13, 2022. 

For complete program details or to register, click here.  

Also coming soon:

→ No CommentsPosted under: University-Industry Engagement Week, Webinars

Ben-Gurion U and Fujitsu to conduct joint research on AI and machine learning 


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 22nd, 2021

Fujitsu Limited and BGN Technologies, the tech transfer arm of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), have signed a three-year joint research agreement to develop artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. continue reading »

→ No CommentsPosted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

U New Brunswick creates advisory board of business leaders to support industry engagement


By David Schwartz
Published: November 22nd, 2021

As part of its ongoing drive to support industry innovation, the University of New Brunswick has assembled a high-powered group of business industry leaders to provide insight to its Research & Innovation Partnerships group. continue reading »

→ No CommentsPosted under: University-Industry Engagement Week