Industry-Sponsored Research Week
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Cornell creates new industry-friendly contract options to attract more partnerships


By David Schwartz
Published: December 18th, 2018

While an enthusiastic approach to forming partnerships with industry is a good start for a university seeking to expand in the area of corporate-sponsored research, the leaders of Cornell University’s efforts recognized that an “open for business” attitude was just that: a start. That’s why they created and recently launched a new initiative called GateWay to Partnership, which includes three distinct partnership options from which prospective partners can choose — each geared towards different types of relationships.

While the program is run through the university’s Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP), it was developed in close cooperation with the Center for Technology Licensing (CTL). “We’ve had a new Vice Provost of Research as of July 2017, and one of his major focuses is the engagement of industry, and diverse funding sources in general,” reports Mary-Margaret Klempa, director of OSP. In terms of increased sponsorship from industry, Klempa says, the first step was to look at the current situation and current revenue, and explore how the university could become more business-friendly and easier for industry partners to work with.

“A lot of our challenges involved getting stuck in negotiations on IP,” she says. “Previously, if we had IP terms that were not acceptable we’d work back and forth with [the licensing] team. It was very time consuming.”

This logically led to taking a close look at the sponsored research agreement templates and terms that were then being employed, and considering potential changes that could make them more business-friendly. This included discussions with the university’s General Counsel that ultimately led to the creation of two new contract options designed to lower the barriers that had been sticking points in many prior negotiations.

“In the past, there were restrictions on what could be negotiated given the non-profit status of universities,” says Alice Li, PhD, CLP, executive director of CTL. “In re-evaluating our situation with the university counsel, we learned new possibilities to design the program. [We] worked closely with our counsel’s office to ensure that the GateWay Program does not compromise the university’s nonprofit status, and relevant terms are built into the two new options.”

A detailed article outlining the new options in the Cornell GateWay Program appears in the December issue of Industry-Sponsored Research Management. To subscribe and access the full article, along with the publication’s entire archive of best practices and success strategies for building industry engagement and partnerships, CLICK HERE.

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Citations study shows greater impact when researchers collaborate with industry


By David Schwartz
Published: December 18th, 2018

A new analysis of research citations shows that the average number of citations a university research paper receives is progressively boosted by having collaborators, and the biggest positive impact occurs then the collaboration involved co-authors from industry and other non-academic partners. continue reading »

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Preparing University Start-Ups for Angel Investments: A Best Practice Webinar


By David Schwartz
Published: December 18th, 2018

A typical angel investor is approached by hundreds of companies seeking funding, and even the best ideas can get overlooked without a well-crafted pitch and the right preparation. University start-ups can jump to the head of the pack if they understand and leverage their advantages over other new ventures, while also preparing effectively for the due diligence process. And tech transfer professionals can play a pivotal role in helping their start-up teams secure critical early-stage cash while avoiding common mistakes during due diligence that can cause once-eager investors to put away their checkbooks.

That’s why Technology Transfer Tactics is sponsoring this critical program designed to help TTOs and their early-stage start-ups prepare themselves for fundraising from angel investors: Preparing University Start Ups for Angel Investments: A Best Practice Webinar.

Join Michael D. Stein, a seasoned angel investor/advisor and IP attorney with Baker Hostetler LLP, when he discusses the key factors angels typically consider when screening start-up opportunities, how to identify and address their sweet spots, and how to ace the due diligence process and get the funding needed to and plot a course for growth.

For complete details and to register, CLICK HERE.

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Marquette names first-ever VP for Corporate Engagement, opens new office


By David Schwartz
Published: December 18th, 2018

Marquette University has opened a new Office of Corporate Engagement and hired is first director. Dr. Maura Donovan, currently executive director of economic development at the University of Minnesota, will assume her the new role at Marquette on January 28. continue reading »

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Cambridge inks research partnership with Omeros Corp.


By David Schwartz
Published: December 18th, 2018

The University of Cambridge (UK) has entered a research collaboration with Omeros Corporation, and the two partners are establishing the Omeros Center at Cambridge for Complement and Inflammation Research (OC3IR), where their research will be conducted. continue reading »

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Survey of Sponsored Research Agreements between the Private Sector and Higher Education


By David Schwartz
Published: December 18th, 2018

The Survey of Sponsored Research Agreements between the Private Sector and Higher Education 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 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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Algoma University launches new research and innovation hub for industry collaboration


By David Schwartz
Published: December 18th, 2018

Ontario’s Algoma University announced the launch of its Experiential Learning Hub last week, designed to facilitate collaborative research among students, faculty and employers. continue reading »

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Registration for UIDP28 is now OPEN: Catalyzing Innovation Through Partnerships: Highlighting the Internal and External Players that Enable U-I Collaboration


By David Schwartz
Published: December 18th, 2018

UIDP28, UIPD’s semi-annual conference, will be held April 1-4, 2019 in Raleigh, NC, and is being hosted by NC State University in partnership with UNC-Chapel Hill and RTI International.

The UIDP28 program includes workshops, short talks, plenary talks, interactive breakout sessions, and extensive networking time to maximize the value of participation. With an emphasis on strategic and tactical issues affecting academic-corporate engagement, the UIDP28 program will provide effective approaches for helping you do your day job better. You’ll hear from experts on university-industry partnerships in the Research Triangle region and learn how university-industry-government relationships are shaping the future on a global scale.  

 For more details and to register, CLICK HERE.

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MIT report recommends against cutting research ties with Saudi Arabia


By David Schwartz
Published: December 11th, 2018

An MIT review of the school’s ties to Saudi Arabia has concluded that it should not break with the kingdom following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

MIT has no “compelling case” to cut ties with Saudi Arabia in the wake of the killing, which has drawn international outrage, but it is unlikely to pursue more work in the kingdom, according a to a report released by the school last week.

University President L. Rafael Reif asked Associate Provost Lester in October to conduct a reassessment of MIT’s engagements with Saudi Arabia following the murder. MIT is one of many U.S. universities that accept funding from the Saudi government and industry, but it has stood out for its close relationship with the country’s national oil company and other government-owned institutions.

Lester criticized Saudi Arabia’s role in the killing, along with its “repressive policies” in other areas, but he said none of the institutions MIT works with had any role in Khashoggi’s death. Cutting ties would curb important research, he said, but would have little or no impact on the Saudi regime’s policies or practices.

“These organizations are supporting important research and activities at MIT on terms that honor our principles and comply with our policies,” he said in the report. “They are also providing critical resources to support the education of outstanding Saudi students and women scientists and engineers, who will surely be in the vanguard of social change in that country.”

Lester added, however, that the killing will likely scuttle any expansion of the school’s work in Saudi Arabia, which some at MIT felt could help steer the kingdom toward more progressive policies. “The Khashoggi murder has deflated many of those hopes,” Lester wrote.

The report also revealed what Lester called a “disturbing” connection between the Khashoggi murder and a campus visit made by Prince Mohammed bin Salman in March, when his entourage included Maher Mutreb, who was later identified by the U.S. government as one of 17 Saudis who organized and carried out the killing. “This individual had engaged with members of the MIT community at that time — an unwelcome and unsettling intrusion into our space, even though evident only in retrospect,” Lester wrote.

The report was based on input from students, faculty and alumni, along with outside experts on Saudi Arabia. It now goes to President Reif, who will make a final decision on whether to maintain ties to the kingdom.

Despite the recommendation, Lester noted that individual researchers who want to back out of projects with the kingdom can do so, and the school will help arrange it without disrupting the work.

The report didn’t detail how much MIT receives from Saudi sources, but it said 52% has covered “sponsored research” over the last three years. Research deals have primarily involved state-owned institutions like oil giant Saudi Aramco and SABIC, a national chemical company, as well as the research center King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology (KACST). Another 44% of the Saudi support received by the school came in the form of philanthropic giving. 

Several other schools also defended their work with the country, including the University of California, Berkeley, which has a $6 million contract to develop nanomaterials that can be used to support renewable energy.

In an interview with the MIT student newspaper The Tech, Lester said: “We’ve had for many years — decades even — collaborations with good people in Saudi Arabia who are trying to do good things. … What this report says is that we should not walk away from these people despite the actions of people in their government.”

He pointed out the positive contributions of both the research sponsorships and the philanthropic gifts. Private and corporate gifts from Saudi sources have supported work to alleviate poverty, make food and water more securely available, educate marginalized populations, and improve public health. Gifts have also has also allowed MIT to grow the Ibn Khaldun Fellowship Program for Saudi Arabian Women. The program has been supported by gifts from Saudi Aramco and KACST.

 “The argument for being open to continued engagement is based on a weighing of benefits and costs and risks,” Lester told MIT News. “The benefits are to MIT, to our faculty, to our students, and also potentially to Saudi society and even the global community — for example, a number of the research projects MIT is conducting with Saudi support are related to water and energy, with the ultimate goal of protecting the environment.”

Still, some on campus are urging MIT to cut its ties with the Saudis. A letter signed by more than 20 political science graduate students addressed to President Reif stated: “We recognize that the funding MIT receives from Saudi Arabia has been channeled towards serious and noble research projects here at MIT. We understand that if MIT were to speak out against human rights violations in Saudi Arabia, there may be financial retaliation. However, a renowned institution like MIT must not be threatened into silence.”

Sources: The Tech, U.S. News & World Report and MIT News

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TOMORROW: Preventing Tax Compliance Nightmares in University Tech Transfer and Industry-Sponsored Research


By David Schwartz
Published: December 11th, 2018

Commercialization activity being managed in university tech transfer, corporate engagement, and sponsored research offices runs a significant risk of running afoul of tax exemption statutes — and that can create a compliance nightmare for your university and severe headaches for you.

What’s worse, these compliance threats are getting more numerous and more complex as commercial ventures and initiatives multiply and take new forms — for instance, companies that open on-campus labs, start-ups that use tax-exempt buildings and services, revenue from start-up equity, and industry partnerships that rely on campus resources. Non-compliance can result in fines, reputational damage, and even loss of non-profit status.

That’s why Technology Transfer Tactics, in partnership with Industry-Sponsored Research Management, is sponsoring this critical webinar: Preventing Tax Compliance Nightmares in University Tech Transfer and Industry-Sponsored Research. This session, scheduled for tomorrow, December 12, will address common tax issues associated with university research commercialization efforts, offering practical guidance from a seasoned university tax director, including a real-world case study of tax challenges faced by a major research institution.

You will leave this program with a thorough understanding of the tax issues that affect technology transfer and other research commercialization activities — and gain a full appreciation for the impact these issues can have on an institution when not managed appropriately. Plus, you’ll take home compliance guidance and strategies you can use to ensure you steer clear of common tax problems and complications. For complete details and to register, CLICK HERE.

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Humana, U Houston partner on new med school in bid to boost population health


By David Schwartz
Published: December 11th, 2018

It may not be all that unique for a medical school and a corporation to collaborate, but this one’s a little different; you see, this medical school has not even opened yet (the inaugural class will begin study in the fall of 2020).

Humana Inc. and the University of Houston have begun a “long-term strategic partnership,” which includes a $15 million donation from Humana to help cover the new school’s start-up and operating costs. Humana will also be involved in the training of physicians at the soon-to-open University of Houston College of Medicine.

The key to the partnership is a shared vision of healthcare between Humana and UH. “I’m not aware of [many] health insurance company/medical school partnerships; there’s some distinctiveness to that,” asserts Stephen J. Spann, MD, founding dean of the UH College of Medicine. “One really great feature of this partnership is the alignment of the mission and goals of the two entities. While Humana is identified as a health or insurance company, they’re really focused on finding better ways to take care of people — populations of people — and creating a higher quality of care at a lower cost. Our big focus is training doctors, providing high value care and training healthcare teams to provide integrated care. That’s one of the real missions and goals of Humana.”

“Humana has an interest in helping advance the science of primary care,” adds Tray Cockerell, the insurer’s director of strategic relationships. “The University of Houston College of Medicine is a perfect opportunity for us to be on the ground floor with a partner that is establishing a school focused on population health, health equity, and providing care to the underserved population in Houston, TX, and beyond.”

Cockerell also feels strongly that this partnership is unique, in large part because the new med school’s focus is so closely aligned with Humana’s need for physicians in the region. “UH’s College of Medicine mission is to develop a medical school that will help meet a clearly identified need for more and better primary care physicians (PCPs) in the state of Texas,” he says. “Today, Texas has 71 PCPs per 100,000 people — which ranks an alarming 47th out of 50 states. Their distinctive focus on preparing primary care doctors with a better understanding of community health disparities will differentiate them from all other medical schools in Texas and from most institutions across the United States.”

Like most significant partnerships, this one took some ‘seed-planting.’ “Our advancement team met some of the folks at Humana two to three years ago, as we were just beginning to plan a medical school,” Spann recalls. “We had some early conversations, and in the relatively recent past a team of Humana leadership came down to talk with us in person about our plans for the school, our vision and mission, and the kind of training program we were envisioning — and they became very interested in what we’re doing. They saw some alignment in the kind of training program we’re developing and the kind of physicians they feel we need for the future.

How will Humana’s $15-million gift be applied to the new medical school? Spann says that $5 million went to five endowed chairs in medicine, nursing, pharmacy, social work, and optometry, “which I think recognizes the importance to Humana of team-based care,” he says. “They’re not just interested in a medical school and training doctors, but in creating an integrated healthcare team.”

The other $10 million, he says, will support start-up costs of the medical school. “A significant amount of that money will be spent in the development and opening of the ‘Humana Integrated Health System Sciences Institute,’” says Spann. “That will really focus on the training, education, research and even patient care service emphasizing improving the value of healthcare.” The institute, he notes, will be part of the medical school.

Does he anticipate additional financial relationships going forward? “I think that’s yet to be determined; hopefully it will be a long-term partnership and collaboration. We’ll see how it evolves,” says Spann.

A detailed article on the UH-Humana partnership appears in the November issue of Industry-Sponsored Research Management. To subscribe and access the full article, along with the publication’s entire archive of case studies, best practices, and success strategies for building long-term industry partnerships and engagement, CLICK HERE.

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ExxonMobil sponsors Clemson’s next-gen sustainable concept vehicle


By David Schwartz
Published: December 11th, 2018

ExxonMobil is sponsoring a group of graduate automotive engineering students in the university’s flagship Deep Orange program who are seeking to develop a next-generation sustainable concept vehicle. continue reading »

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