Industry-Sponsored Research Week
University-Industry Engagement Advisor

Universities find a fertile source of industry partnerships: Their own start-ups


By David Schwartz
Published: June 18th, 2019

Start-ups are often thought of by many as seekers of financing; after all, lacking resources is part of the classic picture of companies in their early stages of development. That’s why it may come as a surprise that a number of universities are finding their own start-ups as excellent sources of funds for research — true industry partners, even as they are seeking to solidify their own futures.

How can both things be true? Because, in their search for support of their own continued research, start-ups apply for and often receive SBIR and other grants, or perhaps even Series A funding, which can not only finance their continued progress, but can also be directed — whether for their own use or that of other researchers — back to the university that helped launch them.

“We do, in fact, target virtually all of our start-up companies that make it past a certain point to be sponsors of research in the university,” says Ian Biggs, senior associate director for start-ups with the University of Georgia’s Innovation Gateway.

“The rationale, at the 30,000-foot level, is economic development,” adds Paul Roben, associate vice chancellor for innovation and technology commercialization at the University of California San Diego, which has been working with start-ups as research sponsors for a number of years. “Why does the university engage in any of this stuff? The economic and social development agenda, the creation of companies and jobs, so the region continues to thrive.”

“Industry sponsored research is definitely a priority at CU Boulder and other universities in Colorado,” says Brynmor Rees, assistant vice chancellor for research and innovation, and managing director of Venture Partners at CU Boulder. “We’ve observed, looking at industry-sponsored funding over the last five years, that on average 25% of it comes from our own start-ups.”

Getting start-ups involved in sponsored research often serves the self-interest of the young companies, and that’s a point industry engagement professionals should make to start-up leaders early on. “First of all, it is in their best interests,” says Roben. “They have generally been born from some research here. It comes down to a patent or licensing program to breathe life into a company, but typically that is not the end of the story. Research continues, it still has value, and we want them to have access to research so they can continue to develop products. A company does not usually make it on a single product.”

What’s more, he adds, “when you’re a small company you need credibility if you do not have — or even if you do have — a stellar management team that has raised money before and exited. You can still get access to key opinion leaders in the technology from our faculty.”

A detailed article on targeting university start-ups in industry engagement efforts appears in the June issue of University-Industry Engagement Advisor. For subscription information, CLICK HERE.

Get the full story and dozens more like it – including the entire archive of back issues – with a subscription to University-Industry Engagement Advisor. CLICK HERE for more details!

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GSK and U of California sign $67M research deal around pioneering CRISPR technology


By David Schwartz
Published: June 18th, 2019

Pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline SK has struck a research deal with the pioneers of the CRISPR gene editing technology at the University of California in its quest for new drug therapies. continue reading »

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Saving Time and Increasing Productivity with iEdison: Reassessing the Subject Invention Requirement and Minimizing Reporting Errors


By David Schwartz
Published: June 18th, 2019

Reporting inventions in iEdison can be a clunky, time-sucking task that is riddled with compliance hurdles, error notifications and reporting requirements. Many universities have made it policy and procedure to report all inventions into iEdison upon disclosure to the TTO. But that’s not necessary or even wise to do. Not all inventions are backed by federal funds, and not all disclosures can be fully vetted to meet the subject invention requirement. This causes major strife for the reporting officer or patent coordinator because — as research office and tech transfer staff know all too well — correcting reporting errors is an absolute nightmare in iEdison.

That’s why Tech Transfer Central, in partnership with iEdison expert Tyson Benson, associate with Harness Dickey, has scheduled this critically important compliance webinar: Saving Time and Increasing Productivity with iEdison: Reassessing the Subject Invention Requirement and Minimizing Reporting Errors. Join us on July 30 when Mr. Benson will discuss how to save time and reduce errors with iEdison, including an in-depth review of what a subject invention is and what really needs to be reported. For complete details or to register, CLICK HERE.

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Canada government commits $73 million to foster industry-university collaborations


By David Schwartz
Published: June 18th, 2019

Canada’s government is putting up CAN$73 million (US$54 million) to promote university-industry engagement. continue reading »

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Monash U students create new glass bottle design in partnership with manufacturer


By David Schwartz
Published: June 18th, 2019

A new glass bottle called “Millie” will soon be hitting store shelves, a result of a collaboration between glass container manufacturer O-I Glass, the Australian Beverage Council, brand agency Voice, and Australia’s Monash University. Beverage and snack company Emma & Tom will be using the bottle for a new premium juice product aimed at the export market. continue reading »

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Best Practices in Material Transfer Agreement Management


By David Schwartz
Published: June 18th, 2019

Your university spends untold dollars and hours on negotiating terms and processing hundreds, maybe even thousands of MTAs every year. And since MTAs can have serious ramifications in terms of rights to resulting inventions, for future licensing agreements, and for publication rights, it’s not a process you should be taking lightly or rushing through.

That’s why we’ve created Best Practices in Material Transfer Agreement Management. This highly-rated distance learning collection includes two practical programs that deliver specific strategies to help you manage your agreements, your time, and your IP. Here are more details on the two-program collection:

1. Material Transfer Agreement Management: Negotiation Strategies to Strengthen Legal Protection and Gain Efficiency — The way MTAs are negotiated and managed can have a huge impact on your organization’s productivity, since the volume and processing time can combine to overwhelm an already overworked staff. You gain solid guidance from two experts at the University of Iowa who have successfully addressed the MTA challenge, and are ready to share their strategies with you.

2. Managing Material Transfer Agreements: Key Practices for Saving Time and Money — The Vanderbilt University TTO’s home-grown MTAShare automated MTA management system enables an extremely streamlined process, slashing both paperwork and many hours of staff time associated with processing material transfer agreements. Alan Bentley, assistant vice chancellor for technology transfer in the Vanderbilt Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization (CTTC), leads this session and shares exactly how the university tackled its MTA workload, culminating in this time- and money-saving automated solution.

For complete details on this valuable collection or to order, CLICK HERE.

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Auburn U partners with Tyson Foods to build stand-alone solar-powered poultry house


By David Schwartz
Published: June 18th, 2019

Auburn University’s National Poultry Technology Center (NPTC) and poultry producer Tyson Foods have opened the largest stand-alone, solar-powered poultry house to be operated completely off the electricity grid. The 54-foot by 500-foot poultry house can hold up to 36,000 broilers. continue reading »

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Montreal research center partners with Samsung on new AI Lab


By David Schwartz
Published: June 18th, 2019

Samsung recently opened an Artificial Intelligence (AI) lab in Montreal in a partnership with Mila, a research center specializing in deep learning, including more specifically language modeling, machine translation, object recognition, and generative models. continue reading »

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With Amazon HQ2 coming, Virginia Tech gears up for innovation


By David Schwartz
Published: June 18th, 2019

As Amazon prepares to build its massive new HQ2 near campus, Virginia Tech is breaking ground too, on its $1 billion Innovation Campus in Alexandria that was part of the package used by the state to lure the online behemoth. continue reading »

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U of British Columbia inks three-year graphene research agreement


By David Schwartz
Published: June 18th, 2019

The University of British Columbia and ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. have signed of a memorandum of understanding for a research collaboration under which ZEN will contribute a minimum of $300,000 over three years to support graphene research and application development. continue reading »

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Opportunity Zone development helps Purdue attract industry partners


By David Schwartz
Published: June 11th, 2019

Universities looking to draw companies and start-ups to their regions may be overlooking a government tax incentive program that, coupled with the perks and talent pipeline available on campus, can become a strong economic development and industry engagement magnet.

You may have heard of Opportunity Zones, which are typically associated with revitalization efforts in poor neighborhoods, but most universities don’t recognize their potential for campus economic development. Purdue University and few other schools have, and Purdue’s efforts are now paying off.

David A. Broecker, chief innovation and collaboration officer for the Purdue Research Foundation, is hoping the new 200-acre-plus “Opportunity Zone” on Purdue’s campus will be a major draw for industry. It will feature Discovery Park District, a new ‘city’ that includes not only office and research space, but retail and residential projects as well. This unique environment, he says, can lead to new innovation centers sponsored by major corporations, an increase in the number of start-ups based on university IP, and increased engagement on a number of levels among current industry partners.

Opportunity Zones were created by the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 and are meant to encourage private investment in underdeveloped communities through tax incentives. Under the law, investors can defer tax on any prior gains invested in a Qualified Opportunity Fund (QOF), which is set up specifically to invest in Opportunity Zone projects. Depending on how long the investment is held, capital gains can be reduced by 10%-15%.

Broecker points out that an “OZ” on a university campus is fairly unique. “Of the more than 8,700 OZs in the U.S., only about three dozen are on university campuses,” he says. Other university-based Opportunity Zones include Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Illinois State University, Liberty University, and California State University, Northridge.

Broecker has been heading up a “road show” to major investment houses and banks, highlighting the advantages of the Opportunity Zone investments. The incentives could make a significant difference for start-ups. “Let’s say you have a million-dollar pre-money valuation, and someone puts in half a million dollars,” Broecker posits. “If you exit at $10 million, capital gains would be $9 million. My understanding is under this model the gains would be tax free.”

A few details are missing from this explanation — here are the capital gains rules for OZ investments:

  • Investors get a temporary deferral of taxable income for capital gains reinvested in an Opportunity Fund. The deferred gain must be recognized on the earlier of the date on which the opportunity zone investment is disposed of or December 31, 2026.
  • Investors can recognize a step-up in basis for capital gains reinvested in an Opportunity Fund, and the benefit is bigger the longer the investment is held. The basis is increased by 10% if it’s held for at least five years, and by an additional 5% if held for at least seven years, thereby excluding up to 15% of the original gain from taxation.
  • A permanent exclusion from capital gains tax capital gains from the sale of the OZ investments applies only if the investment is held for 10 years.

A detailed article on Purdue’s use of the Opportunity Zone legislation to build out its Discovery Park District appears in the May issue of University-Industry Engagement Advisor. For subscription information, CLICK HERE.

Don’t miss another issue of University-Industry Engagement Advisor. CLICK HERE for subscription details and a $100 savings!

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Insights on university-industry engagement outside major metro areas


By David Schwartz
Published: June 11th, 2019

Writing on her consulting firm’s blog, Laura Schoppe, founder and president of Fuentek, LLC, provided a summary of some key ideas offered at UIDP’s recently held “U-I Engagement Outside Major Metropolitan Areas” workshop held at the University of Arkansas. continue reading »

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