Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Tech transfer veterans apply their lessons learned to build Baptist Health Innovations


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 30th, 2022

A detailed article on the rapid growth and success of the research commercialization efforts at Baptist Health Innovations appears in the November issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe and access the complete article, or for further subscription details, click here.

Baptist Health South Florida is waist-deep in the process of transforming from its roots as a community hospital to an academic medical center with the addition of translational research and innovation functions, and one the organization’s first moves to ramp up its commercialization activity was bringing on board two seasoned professionals: Mark Coticchia and Nila Bhakuni, who have long and respected careers in technology transfer. The two are now three years into building Baptist Health Innovations, using many of the lessons learned from their extensive experience in other TTOs.

Baptist Health is the largest healthcare organization in the South Florida region, with 12 hospitals, more than 26,000 employees, 4,000 physicians, 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning four counties.

Coticchia, corporate vice president for innovation, was hired right before the COVID pandemic hit. He arrived with four decades of experience in early-stage venture development, sourcing, vetting, and investing in new technologies and companies. Before Baptist, he was the first chief innovation officer at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. And before that, he was vice president of research for a decade at Case Western Reserve University, preceded by more than 20 years working at Carnegie Mellon, where he was the head of technology management and new ventures. “I’ve learned a lot along the way,” Coticchia says, “and that helped shape our approach at Baptist Health Innovations.”

Bhakuni, a mechanical engineer with an MBA, worked with Coticchia at Carnegie Mellon. Since then, she has had progressive responsibility in technology transfer at CMU and Harvard. She also led technology transfer programs at Rice University, Dartmouth, and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. She reconnected with Coticchia at Baptist Health in March 2020.

The pair have installed the infrastructure for success in the form of staff, policies, and procedures, and the results are showing. They’ve already completed hundreds of transactions, including dozens of licensing deals, many broad co-development collaborations with Fortune 500 companies, and they recently consummated key university affiliation agreements. They’ve made noteworthy investments in an early-stage VC fund — supporting two of their licensees — and produced their first venture-backed spinoff company.

They’ve also invested in staff training on innovation, while quickly bringing in millions in licensing revenues and philanthropic support. And importantly, they’ve made a positive impact on Baptist Health’s organizational culture. “We’ve taken our lessons from academia and applied them to hospitals which lend themselves to application development,” said Coticchia.

Among the keys Coticchia outlined that he and Bhakuni used to achieve their goals is the created of a generous IP policy that really incentivizes the health system’s researchers and clinicians. There was no existing policy at Baptist Health when they came on board, so they had a clean slate to work from. “Having a strong IP policy was critical to our effort to develop a greater capability to enact licenses and even start companies,” Coticchia says. “It’s the cornerstone of all tech management programs.”

The policy stipulates that inventors receive a 50% share of net revenue proceeds from their IP. That’s compared to about a third of institutions offering 33%, with most others topping out at 40%, making the revenue sharing among the most generous in the country.

“I believe it’s important to be generous not only with the inventors but also the units where those inventors come from … and the institution quickly embraced it as a means to encourage innovation,” Coticchia says. “Getting the 50% incentivizes our employees to work with us. We take on the risk and share equally in the reward. That’s a pretty good deal. Because of that incentive, many folks have come out of the woodwork with their ideas.”

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Penn researchers develop universal mRNA vaccine against the flu


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 30th, 2022

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) are developing an experimental mRNA-based vaccine against all known strains of the influenza virus. continue reading »

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Staffing Your TTO: Managing turnover, “quiet quitting,” remote work and other HR challenges


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 30th, 2022

You’ve heard the buzzwords “quiet quitting” and “Great Resignation,” and your TTO may have been one of many affected by the dramatic increase in turnover they refer to. How can your office best address these worrisome trends, maintain a full staff, manage an increasingly virtual staff, and keep your commercialization activity flowing?

No one is immune — university tech transfer offices across the country are experiencing turnover, staffing shortages, and recruitment challenges like never before. A perfect storm has erupted creating difficult conditions for keeping and attracting staff, and scores of TTOs are suffering under the weight of too-few-hands while struggling to train the new staff they’ve hired to fill the gaps. And the remote work challenge comes as the icing on the cake, potentially stripping away the office’s sense of camaraderie and the ability to “drop-in” for a quick chat on important items.

But there are creative ways aimed at retaining your current staff, recruiting top candidates for open positions, and addressing HR issues head on. That’s why we’ve lined up a stellar team of presenters from MIT, UPenn, and U Michigan to discuss their staffing and HR challenges – and offer their key strategies and tactics for overcoming those challenges. Join us on December 14th

for this practical round table-style webinar featuring MIT’s Lesley Millar-Nicholson and Marieta Hurtado, Penn’s Micheal Poisel, and U Michigan’s Kelly Sexton.

For complete details and to register, click here.

Also coming soon:

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U of Minnesota teams with state to launch $34.5M start-up fund


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 30th, 2022

The University of Minnesota (UMN) is teaming up with the state’s Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to launch a fund for promising early-stage start-ups.

The $34.5 million fund will be operated by UMN and will focus specifically on Minnesota-based start-ups developing technologies related to life sciences, food and agriculture, climate issues, software, and advanced manufacturing. The university will conduct due diligence on the companies and will provide accepted start-ups with access to its various entrepreneurial resources. The funding and the venture development work is for start-ups statewide, regardless of any UMN affiliation.

“At the university, our mission is about serving all Minnesotans,” says Myron Frans, senior vice president for finance and operations at UMN. “We are honored to combine our broad and deep expertise in investing and our efforts to spark new businesses and growth via our nation-leading Technology Commercialization team and growing Corporate Engagement Center. These programs provide us with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest in our long-term future by supporting Minnesota start-ups and helping them grow.”

DEED commissioner Steve Grove comments, “The venture capital funding that Minnesota has secured is critical for entrepreneurs across the state. Make no mistake — Minnesota is a state of innovation, and this funding will accelerate the development of the next crop of game-changing businesses in our market. We appreciate the University of Minnesota’s continued leadership and partnership in this critical area — we’re fortunate to have such a forward-thinking institution in our state.”

Source: University of Minnesota News and Events

The Tech Transfer Operations Video Toolkit is an instant library of 20 detailed distance learning programs addressing everything from budgeting, productivity, and data management to staffing, risk mitigation, auditing, MTA management, and more. The guidance contained in the toolkit’s programs can make a critical difference in your TTO’s efficiency and performance, and it’s priced at less than $25 per program. Even better, every session can be shared freely with staff and viewed repeatedly, making The Tech Transfer Operations Video Toolkit about the most cost-effective investment you can make. For complete details on this just-released resource, click here.

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U of Arizona researchers look to commercialize Alzheimer’s treatment for patients with Down syndrome


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 30th, 2022

Researchers at the University of Arizona (UA) aim to commercialize a drug for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease in patients with Down syndrome. continue reading »

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Survey of Best Practices in Pursuit of NIH SBIR & STTR Grants


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 30th, 2022

This benchmark report from Tech Transfer Central partner Primary Research Group provides a rich set of best practices and data to compare against your own strategies in pursuing NIH SBIR and STTR grants. In Survey of Best Practices in Pursuit of NIH SBIR & STTR Grants, you’ll find detailed data and dozens of easy to scan charts and figures displaying critical data you can’t find anywhere else, including:

  • Number of grants applied for and won by STTR and SBIR
  • Mean levels of funding and ranges
  • Subcontracting as a percentage of total funding
  • Percent of Phase 1 grant recipients that move to Phase 2 and Phase 3
  • Volume of applicants and grants
  • Staff time and use of consultants
  • Percentage of grants won by university spinouts
  • Advice and role models from exemplary programs
  • Use of grant discovery software and databases
  • And much more

For complete details and to order, click here.

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Blue Water Vaccines licenses Chlamydia vaccine candidate from UT Health San Antonio


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 30th, 2022

Blue Water Vaccines (BWV) has signed an exclusive global license agreement with University of Texas (UT) Health San Antonio to commercialize a novel oral vaccine candidate for Chlamydia. continue reading »

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Rice University start-up raises $76M to commercialize novel decarbonization technology


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 30th, 2022

A Rice University start-up has raised $76 million to commercialize a technology designed to reduce carbon emissions in chemical manufacturing and hydrogen production. continue reading »

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Data Licensing, Protection and Policy for Universities


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 30th, 2022

When it comes to data and its monetization, things are different – and more complex – than with the intellectual property TTOs, licensing professionals, and IP attorneys typically deal with. Laws and regulations relating to consent and privacy must be navigated, along with issues related to the rights of the licensee and how royalties are distributed. And while virtually all institutions have patent policies in place covering ownership and handling of patentable inventions, data policies are still very mixed and sometimes completely absent. As more and more institutions monetize their data, the importance of a well-considered institutional data policy has become critical.

That’s why we’ve produced the distance learning collection Data Licensing, Protection and Policy for Universities, featuring two outstanding programs that combined will give you a clear roadmap for how to nail down data policies, address the tricky issues related to privacy, effectively protect your data-driven innovations, and license your valuable data to third parties while steering clear of legal potholes.

The collection includes our digital package (on-demand video and transcript), along with all program materials prepared by our expert panelists. You can share it throughout your organization! For complete details, click here.

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Ukrainian university launches the country’s first university-backed start-up fund


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 30th, 2022

Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) has launched the country’s first start-up fund to be managed by a private university. continue reading »

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Oxford start-up raises £16.6M to commercialize novel immunotherapy platform


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 30th, 2022

An Oxford University start-up has raised £16.6 million to commercialize novel immunotherapies against cancer. continue reading »

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DiagnaMed Holdings licenses virtual reality diagnostic tech from U of Kansas


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 30th, 2022

DiagnaMed Holdings, a company that develops AI-driven diagnostics and therapeutics for brain health, has signed an exclusive global license agreement with the University of Kansas (KU) to commercialize a novel technology for the diagnosis and monitoring of neurodegenerative diseases. continue reading »

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