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Break down barriers to tap alumni funding for commercialization


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: October 17th, 2018

With so many divisions of the university seeking funding from alumni, the competition can get testy as department leaders stake out their claims and resist incursions from others. TTO leaders may find that they are limited in the use of alumni lists, and the idea of a fundraising campaign for a start-up would be non-starter on many campuses.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Some universities are finding ways to break through the barriers that traditionally keep them away from the funding sources most treasured by the alumni relations and development offices.

At the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Center for Innovation (PCI), the working relationship with development and alumni relations has improved over the past decade as all parties recognized how they could benefit by working together, says Laurie Actman, chief marketing, communications and program officer for the Penn Center.

Engagement with industry events and showcases is a key strategy for highlighting the university’s technology and start-ups. The center promotes university technology at events like the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco and the South by Southwest conference in Austin, TX. The university hosts a thought leadership program at each conference featuring innovative faculty members.

“Development found out we were doing this and started to invite their list of folks in San Francisco that they wanted to engage with, and they’ve started to come to that conference and participate with us,” Actman says. “I wouldn’t say they co-plan it with us, but we coordinate with them in advance and they’re very supportive of what we’re doing. They use it as a leverage point to showcase what is innovative and interesting in terms of their development and what is happening at Penn.”

At South by Southwest, Penn’s alumni relations office put Actman in touch with the alumni club in Austin, which is very active and includes a number of investors and start-up participants. She worked with them to put together a pitch session for the companies and faculty Penn had brought to the event. “Now development is starting to work with us on that also. They’re seeing ways they can leverage our activities in ways that are useful for them, which we’re happy for them to do,” Actman says.

That kind of relationship doesn’t always come easy, Actman notes. Departments promoting university technology and seeking alumni contributions typically report to different leaders at the university, so there is no natural coordination of their common interests, she says.

Development has its own goals and budget, and they don’t necessarily align with those of the TTO, Actman says. There may be more overlap than is obvious at first glance, but goals and measures of success are defined differently in each department, she says. It may be necessary to sit down with counterparts in the other department and purposefully search for common ground and areas in which efforts can be combined.

A good start would be having the TTO director meet with the development director to discuss alignment opportunities, Actman says. “You need to build trust and create a relationship. But my experience has been that people consider it good for everyone when we can work together and benefit the university, which might mean helping each other accomplish goals rather than focusing exclusively on our own,” Actman says.

“The biggest challenge will be goal alignment,” Actman adds. “If you can find that goal alignment, you should be able to develop a productive and constructive collaboration. Your planning timelines may be different, but it is an opportunity worth pursuing.”

A detailed article on strategies for tapping into alumni for tech transfer funding efforts appears in the September issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe and access the full article, along with the publication’s 11-year archive of best practices and success strategies for TTOs, CLICK HERE.

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FastTrack program helps Cornell start-ups rapidly complete license agreements


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: October 17th, 2018

The Center for Technology Licensing (CTL) at Cornell University has launched a program that helps faculty start-ups quickly and easily execute a license agreement and get their start-ups off the ground. continue reading »

The Streamline Your Agreements Distance Learning Combo gives you two sessions – one on express licensing and one on ready-to-sign licenses – so you can boost deal flow and reduce friction in your commercialization efforts.

For complete details, CLICK HERE.

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Preparing “Diagnose & Treat” Patent Claims to be Valid and Enforceable


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: October 17th, 2018

Ever since the landmark Mayo v. Prometheus Supreme Court decision in 2012, it’s been a barren patent landscape for “diagnose and treat” method claims. But with several recent court decisions and USPTO guidance, there’s new room to maneuver in this complex area of patent practice — and new hope for universities and medical research institutions to patent their diagnostic methods, potentially opening a valuable new source of licensing revenues.

But challenges remain, and expert claims drafting guidance will be necessary to ensure these innovations are both patent eligible and enforceable. That’s why Technology Transfer Tactics’ Distance Learning Division has teamed up with patent experts from Amster, Rothstein & Ebenstein, LLP — who have carefully studied the current state of the law and are leading the charge to apply it — to present this important, cutting edge webinar: Preparing “Diagnose & Treat” Patent Claims to be Valid and Enforceable, scheduled for October 24th. For complete program details and to register, CLICK HERE.

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U of Alabama professors create device to prevent hot-car deaths among children and pets


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: October 17th, 2018

Two professors at the University of Alabama (UA) have developed a monitor to help prevent injuries and deaths among children and pets who are accidentally left in hot cars. continue reading »

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U of Guelph researcher developing the first vaccine against traveler’s diarrhea


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: October 17th, 2018

A researcher at the University of Guelph (U of G) in Canada is developing a first-of-its-kind vaccine to fight traveler’s diarrhea. continue reading »

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U of Kentucky and XLerateHealth get federal funding to launch regional biotech accelerator


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: October 17th, 2018

The University of Kentucky (UK) and regional partners have received a federal grant that could potentially amount to $3.5 million over three year to launch a biotech accelerator. continue reading »

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Equity Terms and Distribution in University Start-Ups: A Best Practice Collection


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: October 17th, 2018

Striking the right balance when structuring equity deals with faculty start-ups is a delicate challenge that requires a full understanding of the financial levers involved. Each party will be impacted as the new venture gains value while taking on new partners — and a more complex cap table. And when founder’s equity must be divided at the outset, it’s even tougher to sort out an agreement that works for all — and for the health of the company — over the long term.

Equity Terms and Distribution in University Start-Ups: A Best Practice Collection, produced by Technology Transfer Tactics’ Distance Learning Division, provides over 3 hours of instruction on how to best draft equity and dilution clauses with the long-term in mind. We have partnered with top IP licensing experts to help you draft agreements that walk this tightrope effectively, protect your university’s and your faculty’s interests, and prevent investor turn-offs that can doom the start-up’s prospects at critical stages of growth. For complete program details, CLICK HERE.

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UConn licenses novel therapeutic antibody to Biohaven Pharmaceuticals


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: October 17th, 2018

Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding Company and the University of Connecticut (UConn) have entered into a license agreement to commercialize a new therapeutic antibody. continue reading »

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Max Planck Society inks license for immunotherapy technology based on the measles virus


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: October 17th, 2018

Themis Bioscience, a developer of therapies for infectious diseases and cancer, has entered into a license agreement with Max Planck Innovation GmbH, the tech transfer arm of the Max Planck Society research center in Germany, to commercialize an innovation that uses a modified measles virus to provide immunotherapy solutions. continue reading »

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MIT researchers develop method to quickly harvest 2-D materials for electronics


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: October 17th, 2018

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have created a method to rapidly harvest 2-D materials for use in electronics. continue reading »

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Comings and goings


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: October 17th, 2018

•  Tech transfer veteran DJ Nag has joined IPwe, Inc. a new company that’s combining blockchain, artificial intelligence, data mining, and predictive analytics technologies to reduce friction in patent transactions. Nag will serve as the firm’s global head for the academic and non-profit sector. Nag has served in leadership position with several TTOs, most recently The Ohio State University.

“We are excited to have DJ join the IPwe team to further develop strategic relationships with universities and research labs worldwide. DJ has earned the respect of the global technology transfer community and will be instrumental to help drive IPwe’s efforts to further access this critical market,” said Erich Spangenberg, the company’s CEO.

“IPwe offers universities and research institutions a better way to analyze and transact. Utilizing the AI tools, the Global Patent Registry and IPwe Platform that IPwe makes available to universities free of charge, tech transfer offices have the ability to complete more licensing transactions at a lower cost and with fewer resources. For most tech transfer offices, the mission is to promote technological adoption, create jobs and to generate a potential return — IPwe helps with this mission,” Nag said.

Source: The Virginian-Pilot

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•  The US Air Force Science and Technology Management Division has chosen its former chief Joseph Gordon to serve as director of the division’s tech transfer program. In his new role, Gordon will work to expand the program’s range to include technology transition.

The new Technology Transfer and Transition (T3) program will feature a web page and updated platforms for the transfer and transition of Air Force technologies. The goal of revamping the program is to accelerate the delivery of new innovations to the warfighter.

“I look forward to seeing the programs grow with updated policies and procedures,” says Gordon, “and seeing how T3 will operate in the future.”

Source: ExecutiveGov

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Dartmouth and licensee file infringement suit against major customer over vitamin patent


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: October 10th, 2018

California-based nutraceutical company ChromaDex and the Trustees of Dartmouth College have filed a patent infringement complaint against vitamin manufacturer Elysium Health.

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, the complaint alleges that Elysium is misrepresenting its products and using intellectual property from Dartmouth and ChromaDex without proper compensation.

The dispute surrounds patented formulations invented by Dartmouth professor Charles Brenner, who discovered that a form of the B3 vitamin found in milk called nicotinamide riboside (NR) could have nutritional and therapeutic value for humans. Dartmouth licensed the patents to ChromaDex, which began supplying the vitamin to other companies as well as selling its own supplement called TruNiagen.

One of the companies ChromaDex sold to was Elysium Health. In one of the companies’ earlier disputes, ChromaDex claimed that Elysium made a $3 million order but refused to pay for it after delivery, prompting a first suit by ChromaDex for the value of the shipment. The suit was later amended, claiming Elysium also misappropriated trade secrets it obtained by hiring two former employees of ChromaDex.

The current suit over patent infringement was prompted when ChromaDex obtained evidence that Elysium had long planned to harm the company, according to ChromaDex CEO Rob Fried.

“They had identified a new way of making [NR], and they put it on the market and marketed it as research tested and safety tested when any such work was done on the ChromaDex product,” says Fried. “We now believe that we have evidence that supports the idea that this was planned by [Elysium] from the beginning. So that is why we decided now to finally sue [Elysium] for patent infringement.”

Fried says the suit is intended to protect the interests of ChromaDex shareholders and prevent further abuse of its intellectual property, as well as to protect the integrity of university patents in general.

In response to the suit, Elysium vice president of communications Whitney Crystal comments, “Elysium Health is confident that it does not infringe any valid claim of the patents described in ChromaDex’s most recent baseless lawsuit and trusts that the court will arrive at the same conclusion.”

Source: The Dartmouth

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