Tech Transfer eNews Blog

iEdison’s new utilization reporting coming due, and many TTOs are not ready


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 29th, 2023

A detailed article on the impending deadline and compliance challenges associated with the new iEdison utilization reporting requirements appears in the November issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe and access the complete article, or for further subscription details, click here.

The deadline for responding to the new utilization requirements in iEdison is quickly approaching, and technology transfer offices may well be sweating the details. NIST announced late last year that it was pausing notifications for reporting to upgrade the system. As of October 2023, entities using iEdison must provide utilization reporting for all federally funded research, and annually thereafter, for the preceding October 1 through September 30. Reports are not considered past due until January 1, 2024.

The Interagency Working Group for Bayh-Dole developed a standard set of questions to be asked of all agencies using iEdison. Officers are asked to select from three categories indicating the latest state of development of each funded initiative. Answers are available in a pull-down menu, and each following question is contingent on the question preceding it. The three categories are:

  • Not Licensed or Commercialized
  • Licensed
  • Commercialized

Those receiving federal funds should be ready to answer questions about the status of each grant, the gross amount of income received, the number of licenses or options recorded, names of products developed, and the names of the manufacturer of products as well as where products are manufactured. (For a complete listing of questions, click here.) When several universities share a grant, the lead institution is responsible for completing the information.

Large TTOs may have the systems in place to easily comply, but Nikki Borman, chief executive officer of Borman & Company, feels that it’s going to be difficult for the majority of universities. “As we look at all the new manufacturing mandates for licensing of federally funded technology, it necessitates reporting requirements [including] names of licensees, names of manufacturers, numbers of units sold, gross annual revenue — none of that is being tracked right now, or very few entities are tracking that,” she says.

Borman, a former technology transfer staffer at MIT, points to products like pharmaceuticals, which are often manufactured offshore. “That’s going to be a huge problem to go to licensees in these industries who have offshore manufacturers and have them be able to gather together information that they are probably not keeping to really fill in the Bayh-Dole requirements, and it’s also going to require a lot more manpower to do that,” says Borman.

She emphasizes that most offices are not going to have the staffing to collect the information. “It’s a new world of utilization reporting. It must be updated on an annual basis. It’s going to challenge technology transfer offices to allocate resources. I don’t think they have the bandwidth to do that. They certainly should have a greater focus on compliance, but I don’t think they … have the budget to do that unless you’re at a certain level.”

Borman notes that “universities have very specific and well-maintained budgets, and not only will getting more staff be a challenge, but finding help with the know-how to assist with the new reporting requirement will make it even more difficult. “It’s hard to get people who know this stuff,” she says.

The struggle to comply may also impact relationships with licensees, who may need to be hounded for information, Borman believes. “It’s also going to rub the wrong way in their relationships with industry both foreign and domestic,” she predicts.

Then there is the learning curve that will come from the new iEdison interface. “It’s complex,” says Borman. “It’s not quite actually working as it should be yet. I was the finance and systems person at MIT, but I was also in Big Four consulting, and I saw this kind of thing writ large in a number of other areas, so I see this happening again. It’s not going to be a small kind of change; this is a huge change.”

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UCalgary start-up aims to commercialize non-opioid medication for chronic pain


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 29th, 2023

A start-up from the University of Calgary aims to commercialize pain therapies that avoid the harmful side effects of opioids.

University start-up Zymedyne Therapeutics is collaborating with UCalgary researcher Ketul Patel to develop a first-of-its-kind, non-addictive medication based on a small molecule that targets a newly discovered pathway for chronic pain relief, rather than relying on opioid receptors in the brain. Patel’s compound acts on a different target — T-Type calcium channels — providing a non-opioid-dependent avenue for effectively mitigating pain.

“So far we haven’t observed any drug tolerance, which is the major drawback of opioids,” says Patel, who was recently awarded the prestigious Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation in the Postdoctoral category.

Zymedyne has received investment through UCeed, which provides funding, training, mentorship and other avenues of support for UCalgary start-ups.

The start-up has filed two U.S. provisional patents on its therapeutics and is expecting to launch clinical trials within the next few years. Zymedyne also plans to partner with pharma companies to help bring the drugs to market, providing a safe and effective alternative for the millions of people across the globe who suffer from chronic pain.

Source: UCalgary News

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Don’t miss tomorrow’s webinar – Generative AI Use in TTOs: Realizing the Potential and Mitigating the Pitfalls


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 29th, 2023

Generative artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT offer enormous potential to tech transfer and other commercialization offices in terms of efficiency, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness. AI can automate preparatory tasks, freeing up staff for more strategic, creative, and high-value activities.

AI tools can also aid in decision-making by:

  • Summarizing results from public sources: patent databases, scientific literature, and news.
  • Helping populate forms and databases, saving considerable time and resources. 
  • Generating content for promotion and marketing.
  • Identifying potential licensees and partners

However, there are risks associated with AI, including potential issues with data privacy and security, biases in AI algorithms, AI “hallucinations,” and others. That’s why knowing how to realize the potential of AI for TTO cost savings and efficiency while mitigating these risks is critical. 

To address the benefits of AI tools as well as the potential risks, we’re partnering in this timely program with Joe Runge, JD, MS, Associate Director of the UNeTech Institute, Mary Albertson, CLP, RTTP, Director of Georgia Tech’s Office of Technology Licensing, and Dvorah Graeser, PhD, founder of RocketSmart.io and KISSPatent. These early adopters will share their experiences with implementing ChatGPT in this enlightening one-hour webinar: Generative AI Use in TTOs: Realizing the Potential and Mitigating the Pitfalls, scheduled for tomorrow, November 30th.

This program will discuss in detail how each office has used AI-enabled programs and ChatGPT while addressing key challenges you may face when implementing these tools within your office.

For complete details or to register, click here.

Also coming soon:

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Baylor U wins licensing dispute against Hemotek


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 29th, 2023

Baylor University has won a licensing dispute against health tech company Hemotek.

The dispute is related to the research, development, manufacture and commercialization of an oxygenating compound marketed by Hemotek as “Ox66.” Baylor signed a licensing agreement with the company in 2013, under which Kemotek would receive an exclusive license to inventions arising out of Baylor inventions developed using Ox66, subject to certain conditions, including the requirement that Hemotek commercialize or actively attempt to commercialize the inventions at issue.

After eight years without successful commercialization, in 2021 Baylor terminated the licenses to nine patents resulting from its research. Hemotek responded by filing an arbitration alleging that the termination was improper. Hemotek asserted claims for declaratory relief and breach of contract against Baylor and sought to recover damages in addition to attorney’s fees and costs. The university then counterclaimed for declaratory relief and its attorneys’ fees and costs.

Following the merits hearing, the arbitration panel ruled unanimously in Baylor’s favor, holding that it properly terminated the licenses and awarding the university over $1.3 million in fees and costs. On November 8, 2023, the Collin County District Court entered a final judgment confirming the award.

Source: Norton Rose Fulbright

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IP and Royalty Audits for Tech Transfer Offices


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 29th, 2023

IP audits and royalty audits are essential to properly manage your university’s IP portfolio, and to ensure you’re not only pursuing assets with high potential but also addressing existing licensee activity. Making sure your IP is moving forward — and your licensees are meeting their obligations — is a critical function of any well-run TTO.

Regular and systematic review processes and procedures are absolute musts. Without them, you could be losing out on significant revenue opportunities, overlooking litigation risks, missing critical deadlines and filing requirements, and letting significant royalty dollars slip away.  

That’s why our Distance Learning Division has curated this collection of distance learning programs. IP and Royalty Audits for Tech Transfer Offices features three strategy-filled sessions that provide a detailed roadmap for assessing your IP portfolio for risks and opportunities, and assessing licensee compliance with development and payment obligations.

For complete program and faculty details, or to order, click here.  

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Independent review offers recommendations to improve university start-up ecosystem in UK


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 29th, 2023

An independent review of university start-ups commissioned by the UK government has put forward a set of recommendations to accelerate the country’s university start-up ecosystem.

According to the authors, the recommendations aim to help guide the UK towards a “desired end state” in which universities partner with their local start-up ecosystems to prioritize the rapid creation of new ventures, and researchers are encouraged and better equipped to bring their innovations to market largely as a result of their university’s entrepreneurship culture and resources.

The review examines some of the most successful university start-up ecosystems in the world to identify best practices and discover opportunities for the UK to improve its own ecosystem.

Among the most controversial issues address by the authors are the spin-out deal terms between founders, investors and universities, which has been a topic of hot debate in the UK where university equity stakes are generally larger than in the U.S. According to the review, while spinouts can occasionally provide a revenue source for universities, it is generally a modest and unpredictable amount, and therefore start-ups should not be treated as a central revenue source—essentially implying that universities should keep less of the revenue generated by start-ups, as many UK entrepreneurs have argued.

“It is important that some of the licensing revenue from a spin-out is returned to academic IP inventors and departments to incentivize academics to commercialize their research, and to help the university support the next generation of spin-outs,” the review states.

Here are the key recommendations put forth by the authors to help advance the UK’s start-up ecosystem:

  1. Accelerate towards innovation-friendly university policies that all parties, including investors, should adhere to where they are underpinned by guidance co-developed between investors, founders, and universities.
  2. More data and transparency on spin-outs through a national register of spin-outs, and universities publishing more information about their typical deal terms.
  3. HEIF [the UK’s Higher Education Innovation Fund] should be used to reduce the need for universities to cover the costs of technology transfer offices (TTOs) from spin-out income.
  4. Create shared TTOs to help build scale and critical mass in the spin-out space for smaller research universities.
  5. Government should increase funding for proof-of-concept funds to develop confidence in the concept prior to spinning-out.
  6.  In developing the ‘engagement & impact’ and ‘people & culture’ elements of REF 2028, the four Higher Education Funding Bodies should ensure that the guidance and criteria strongly emphasize the importance of research commercialization, spin-outs, and social ventures as a form of research impact
  7. Founders need access to support from individuals and organizations with experience of operating successful high-tech start-ups, regardless of the region founders are based in or sector they operate in.
  8. UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) should ensure that all PhD students they fund have a voluntary option of attending high-quality entrepreneurship training and increase the opportunities for them to undertake internships in local spinouts, venture capital firms or TTOs.
  9. Recognizing the important role that university-affiliated funds have played in helping spin-outs from some regions access financing, universities considering working with new affiliated investment funds should continue to ensure they are still able to attract a wider set of investors and encourage competition when agreeing such deals.
  10. Promote ongoing reforms to support scale-up capital, such as changes to pension regulations, and encourage the government to accelerate these efforts.
  11. Government should improve the provision of funds to enable movement or porosity between academia and industry.

Source: GOV UK

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Emory students and researchers develop mobile phone diagnostic for COVID-19


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 29th, 2023

A team of students and researchers at Emory University has developed a technology that could enable the detection of COVID-19 via mobile phone.

The technology involves rolling DNA motors that can carry and move small particles around on a surface. In the lab of Emory chemistry professor Khalid Salaita, the research team created a system that freezes the motor when a virus is present. To detect such a small movement, the team developed a microscope based on an unlikely device — a laser pointer cat toy.

Graduate student Kevin Yehl believed a plastic lens would suffice for a microscope, so he picked up the toy from a local CVS, disassembled it, extracted the lens and taped it to his phone camera. The home-built setup worked, detecting moving particles just like a microscope.

The team developed that initial model into a mobile COVID-19 diagnostic tool with real-world commercial potential. Emory’s Office of Technology Transfer assisted the team in filing a full patent for the technology and created a commercial evaluation report to help guide it to the marketplace.

“This [project] has really taken a life of its own,” Yehl says. “It has been very successful and that’s just really gratifying. I think it goes to show what vision, creativity and hard work can produce.”

Source: Emory Office of Technology Transfer

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U of Basel drug delivery start-up acquired by Boehringer Ingelheim for over $500M


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 29th, 2023

A University of Basel start-up is being acquired by German pharma company Boehringer Ingelheim for its novel drug delivery technology.

Founded in 2015 by University of Basel researcher Simon Ittig, T3 Pharmaceuticals has developed a method to use live bacteria as a vessel for delivering therapeutic proteins to cancer cells and the tumor microenvironment. The start-up’s main product, T3-Y058-739, is currently being tested in a Phase I clinical trial.

Boehringer Ingelheim will spend up to 450 million Swiss francs (over $513M US) on the acquisition.

“It’s a motivating example for young researchers at the University of Basel,” Torsten Schwede, vice president for research at the university, says of the acquisition. “Simon Ittig has proven that you can be successful with a university start-up if you consistently pursue an idea.”

Source: University of Basel

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Download the 2023-24 Directory of Life Science VCs


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 29th, 2023

The 2023-24 Directory of Life Science VCs is now available for immediate download. This time-saving source of contact information on life science VC firms can be incorporated immediately into your outreach and fundraising activities.

With 60 new entries and 380 firms in total, all directory listings include the firm website, contact information, and a brief summary of the firm’s investment profile.

It comes to you immediately in both printable digital format and as an Excel spreadsheet that can be used to create mailing lists, your own contact database, merge letters, and e-mails. You can click on links to find out more details about each firm and use the quick descriptions to narrow your VC contacts to those that match your start-up or project.

For complete details, click here.

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Uniseed doubles its research partners to support more university spinouts


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 29th, 2023

Uniseed, a venture fund backed by Australian universities, has doubled its research partners from five to 10 in its efforts to support more start-ups formed around university technologies.

Uniseed’s new partners include Monash University, the University of Newcastle, the University of Technology Sydney, Western Sydney University and Macquarie University. Collectively, the new partners spend around $7.7 billion AUD a year on research, accounting for roughly 60% of the total spent by Australian research institutions.

The partners will match the remaining commitments of Uniseed’s existing members, providing an additional $6.75 million to the Uniseed Fund-3, which will increase the fund size to $56.75 million.

According to Uniseed CEO Peter Devine, the expansion demonstrates the important role the fund can play in backing tech start-ups.

“Where previously we had the ability to support 42% of spin outsfrom research organizations in Australia, our partners will now cover more than half of all commercial research output generated by Australian institutions,” says Devine.

Source: Startup Daily

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USC start-up offers platform to help other university start-ups hire students


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 29th, 2023

A start-up from the University of Southern California (USC) has developed a platform for other entrepreneurs to help them find talented employees, providing students with job opportunities in the process.

Unistart is a free, centralized database of user-submitted start-ups from USC and other universities, allowing student and alumni entrepreneurs to connect with job-seeking students.

USC alums Jerry Teng and Marcel Miro co-founded the business with business major Ethan Lippman to address the lack of entrepreneurship resources at the university.

“[Teng] was trying to get into entrepreneurship at USC, but it’s a who’s who kind of game,” says Lippman. “You have to know people that are involved in the clubs and the clubs are a bit hard to get into… So he runs into the problem of ‘he wants to learn more about USC start-ups, but he has nowhere to go.’”

The Unistart database now has more than 1,500 start-ups from 10 different universities, including 200 start-ups founded by USC students and alumni.

Andrei Stenmark, USC senior and founder of a laundry delivery app called WAFL, says Unistart was a major help for his business. “It was much harder than I thought it was to find good people. I probably went through nine different employees in three months,” Stenmark says. “I’ve used [Unistart] for some social media stuff. I’ve used them to find brand ambassadors recently. They’re insanely helpful.”

Aidan Bunch, a developer for Unistart who recently added his own start-up, Vertix Fellows, to the database, says he has already seen the benefits. “A lot of people use the site,” he says. “We put up a job posting and we’ve been able to source at least a couple candidates for the two days that it has been on there.”

According to Lippman, Unistart is working on an investor outreach feature to help start-ups find investors and vice-versa. “We have jobs, we have start-up data and we have capital,” Lippman says. “Bringing investors on the platforms is our endgame goal.”

Source: Daily Trojan

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Student Innovation: Tapping Into the Gold Mine of On-Campus Talent


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 29th, 2023

Universities around the world are introducing the principles of entrepreneurship and innovation to their student bodies by providing a focal point for research, education, outreach, mentorship, legal support, access to funding, and project-based learning. These programs can help universities recruit fresh talent and emerging leaders to explore complex business challenges.

Our  Distance Learning Division has combined two outstanding programs that focus solely on student-focused innovation and business development, and how your university can create an ecosystem of experiential learning to foster start up creation.

Student Innovation: Tapping Into the Gold Mine of On-Campus Talent is a valuable two-session collection featuring two fascinating case studies of student innovation strategies in action. Program One focuses on the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign’s iVenture Accelerators, which Program Two spotlights the USC Stevens Center for Innovation. These practical, how-to programs will provide proven ideas and strategies for building out the student innovation ecosystem, and ultimately getting more start-ups launched and more students engaged with your office.

For complete details, click here.

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Joint spinout from McGill and BXVentures looks to commercialize novel renewable energy tech


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 29th, 2023

A new joint spinout from McGill University and start-up accelerator BXVentures aims to commercialize a technology that uses metal fuels to create renewable energy.

FeX Energy has developed a method to burn metal powders to produce high-temperature heat, which can be used to generate electricity. The metal powders can be endlessly replenished and made reusable by adding basic chemicals, while generating a higher energy density compared to other renewable sources, with no carbon emissions and without the use of hazardous chemicals.

FeX Energy was launched through a partnership between McGill University and BXVentures focused on commercializing cleantech projects from McGill’s research labs. BXVentures will provide FeX Energy with operational support, entrepreneurial mentorship, climate tech expertise, and other resources to help ensure the start-up’s commercial success.

“FeX Energy is a first demonstration and a great example of the deployment and commercialization capabilities of BXVentures Canada applied to cleantech innovation developed by McGill University,” says Marc Guilbert, co-founder and CEO of BXVentures Canada. “As we kick off our partnership with McGill, this is a great opportunity to provide the business-building resources necessary to accelerate the rollout and impact of FeX Energy’s ground-breaking energy system.”

Source: betakit

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Imperial College London leads initiative to turn early-stage AI researchers into successful entrepreneurs


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 29th, 2023

Imperial College London (ICL) is leading a new accelerator project to help early-career AI researchers launch start-ups around their innovations.

The AI SuperConnector will provide researchers with entrepreneurship training and guidance while addressing the unique challenges inherent in the fast-moving area of AI, such as regulatory frameworks and ethical concerns around its use.

“It will combine the fundamentals of entrepreneurship, such as business planning, financing, marketing, and management with foundational knowledge of AI and its applications,” says Simon Hepworth, director of Imperial Enterprise. “The participants will benefit from case studies of successful AI start-ups from all the partner universities to demonstrate how to apply AI in a business context.”

ICL has partnered with the University of York, the University of Leeds and the University of Liverpool to launch the six-month accelerator, with nearly £1.5 million in support from the Research England Connecting Capability Fund.

“The AI SuperConnector will transform today’s researchers at the forefront of AI discovery into tomorrow’s start-up and scale-up leaders,” adds Hepworth. “These researchers will already be experts in state-of-the-art AI and its application to societal challenges, but thanks to the AI SuperConnector they will become conversant in commercialization and comfortable in ecosystems that span multiple business sectors.”

Source: Science|Business

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U Cambridge initiative attracts 100 tech leaders to support university start-ups


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 29th, 2023

A new entrepreneurship initiative at the University of Cambridge has attracted 100 leading tech founders, investors and operators to join in its mission of accelerating university start-ups with a focus on diversity and inclusion.

The “Founders at the University of Cambridge” program is supporting a cohort of entrepreneurs that is 49% female, with more than a quarter coming from Black, Asian, minority and ethnic backgrounds.

The 100 experts joining the initiative will provide mentorship and guidance to the entrepreneurs in the cohort. The experts come from companies including Google, Stripe, Graphcore, FiveAI, Superhuman and Balderton Capital.

“This group has unrivaled experience building, scaling and supporting world-changing tech companies, which will be invaluable to help unlock the potential of our new generation of founders building companies that will solve humanity’s growing challenges,” says Gerard Grech, managing director of Founders at the University of Cambridge.

Stan Boland, co-founder of Five AI and one of the experts joining the initiative, says that the mentorship he received as an early-stage entrepreneur was instrumental in helping him achieve success.

“That’s why I’m looking forward to giving back as part of Founders at the University of Cambridge,” Boland says. “I can’t wait to get started helping a new generation of founders of tech companies to help unlock their full potential.”

Source: Tech EU

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Faculty consulting can force TTOs into difficult decisions on asserting IP ownership


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 15th, 2023

A detailed article on faculty consulting, the sticky IP issues it can raise, and the policies and practices of TTOs in asserting IP ownership in certain situations appears in the November issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe and access the complete article, or for further subscription details, click here.

Faculty consulting with companies to help them design or improve products, or otherwise develop ideas that might become commercially viable, is common and can be a significant revenue stream for faculty members. World class experts in technology or medicine are frequently called upon by corporations, but how does a TTO handle these side deals that do not involve university licenses and formal agreements with the university?

The answer varies widely among even the most prestigious tech transfer programs, with different views on how to balance the potential revenue involved against the risk of alienating faculty who might go elsewhere to find a more lenient consulting policy.

These faculty are employed by the university and must operate under its IP rules, but the lines can get blurry, especially when something is commercialized at least in part from a consulting relationship. If the work theoretically is based on their work in the university, the university could assert total or joint IP ownership. The question becomes more difficult as the amount of money in question increases, as some arrangements could have faculty members making millions while the university is left empty handed.

These arrangements also raise conflict of interest concerns when the faculty acts in favor of the company at the risk of harm to the university, such as signing a royalty deal for IP that should go to the university, or conducting research that benefits the company instead of the university, or using grad students for work that benefits the company.

Some university TTOs take a hard stand on faculty consulting agreements, and others prefer a more hands-off approach to keep faculty content. Even some of those who take an aggressive approach may find they have to ease up when faculty bristle at attempts to complain.

Emory University in Atlanta tries to accommodate faculty while still making a strong stand against any faculty consulting that would violate its IP policies or unfairly leave the university out of potential revenue streams. Like most universities, Emory allows its faculty to consult, with the understanding that it should not take up more than 20% of their time, essentially one day a week, explains Todd Sherer, associate vice president for research and executive director in Emory’s Office of Technology Transfer.

“We feel like it’s part of our academic duty and our commitment to society to make our faculty available to help others. And we also then say that we understand that if we’re going to allow faculty to consult, we probably need to let them or let the company own the intellectual property that comes out of that,” he says. “Because if we don’t do that, then they’re not going to be asked to consult very often. Companies are going to require that if they pay them to consult, [the company will own] the IP that comes out of that work.”

That does not negate the researcher’s obligations to assign everything to the university that is supported by the university, Sherer notes. However, Sherer and his colleagues have long suspected in certain cases — a small percentage of the time — faculty may be consulting over an idea they have that sprang from their research and rightfully should be pursued for the university. There is no good way to know whether that has occurred, he says.

In response to that concern, Emory in 2010 prohibited faculty from having a side royalty deal (a policy that would be rescinded a decade later). If they wanted to consult for companies, the respective school needed to see the consulting agreement and advise them on it, but the school did not sign it.

“We made it clear in a memo I sent to the deans that even though we’re here to handle the university’s IP, we are granting you the authority to negotiate away or allow the university’s IP rights to be usurped through consulting agreements, and you can handle that locally,” Sherer says. “Secondly, we said that you can only allow it in contracts and in situations where faculty understand that any sort of other arrangement is prohibited, such as having a royalty deal. That was what made us different than the rest of the country, prohibiting the side deal.”

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Blackbird Laboratories launches to support life science innovation in Baltimore


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 15th, 2023

A new Baltimore-based life sciences accelerator aims to boost the commercialization of medical technologies emerging from universities and research institutions.

Blackbird Laboratories will identify promising therapeutics and other health-related innovations developed at its partner institutions, which include Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland-Baltimore, and the Lieber Institute for Brain Development.

The accelerator will provide funding, program management, and strategic scientific and business input from its team of life science professionals, with the goal of bridging the gap between innovative academic research and industry.

The accelerator is backed by a $100 million founding grant from the Stephen and Renee Bisciotti Foundation, a charitable organization founded by Baltimore Ravens owner Stephen Bisciotti.

“We are thrilled to launch Blackbird Labs, a next-generation life sciences accelerator with a vision to develop new technologies and therapies emerging from premier research institutions here in Baltimore and across the country,” says Matt Tremblay, CEO of Blackbird Labs. “We look forward to utilizing our collective expertise in academic translation, company creation, and drug development and leveraging our academic partnerships to lay the groundwork for the biotech companies of the future.”

Sources: Cision and The Daily Record

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Generative AI Use in TTOs: Realizing the Potential and Mitigating the Pitfalls


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 15th, 2023

Generative artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT offer enormous potential to tech transfer and other commercialization offices in terms of efficiency, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness. AI can automate preparatory tasks, freeing up staff for more strategic, creative, and high-value activities.

AI tools can also aid in decision-making by:

  • Summarizing results from public sources: patent databases, scientific literature, and news.
  • Helping populate forms and databases, saving considerable time and resources. 
  • Generating content for promotion and marketing.

However, there are risks associated with AI, including potential issues with data privacy and security, biases in AI algorithms, AI “hallucinations,” and others. That’s why knowing how to realize the potential of AI for TTO cost savings and efficiency while mitigating these risks is critical. 

To address the benefits of AI tools as well as the potential risks, we’re partnering in this timely program with Joe Runge, JD, MS, Associate Director of the UNeTech Institute, Mary Albertson, CLP, RTTP, Director of the Office of Technology Licensing at Georgia Institute of Technology, and Dvorah Graeser, PhD, founder of RocketSmart.io and KISSPatent. These early adopters will share their experiences with implementing ChatGPT in this enlightening one-hour webinar: Generative AI Use in TTOs: Realizing the Potential and Mitigating the Pitfalls, scheduled for November 30th.

This program will discuss in detail how each office has used AI-enabled programs and ChatGPT while addressing key challenges you may face when implementing these tools within your office.

For complete details or to register, click here.

Also coming soon:

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UGA and Innosol Health sign option agreement to commercialize oral thin film strip for athletes


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 15th, 2023

The University of Georgia (UGA) Research Foundation and Innosol Health have entered into an option agreement to commercialize an oral thin film strip that enhances exercise performance in athletes.

Developed by UGA researcher Jamie A. Cooper, the patented strip leverages cutting-edge delivery mechanisms to provide users with a quick and efficient energy boost. The technology could revolutionize the way athletes harness energy on the go and during competitive events.

Under the terms of the agreement, Innosol will have the exclusive option to license the strip patent.

“We are excited about the potential of this performance energy oral thin film strip patent and the opportunity to work with Dr. Cooper,” says Michael Kuhbock, president of Innosol. “We believe that this patented technology will revolutionize the way athletes manage and boost their energy levels in a competitive environment.”

Cooper comments, “I am pleased to collaborate with Innosol, a company known for its dedication to delivering high-quality healthcare solutions. Our performance energy oral thin film strip patent has the potential to transform the energy enhancement market, and together with Innosol, we are committed to bringing this innovation to consumers around the world.”

Source: Cision

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Northeast Ohio Medical University and Bounce Innovation Hub launch joint commercialization venture


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 15th, 2023

Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) and Bounce Innovation Hub, an Akron-based nonprofit that helps start-ups and small businesses, are launching a joint venture to develop and commercialize new medical technologies.

The joint venture will be called Kinetic and will provide guidance and support in the various stages of the commercialization process, including ideation, development, intellectual property protection, prototyping, regulatory compliance, market strategy and fundraising.

The new company will focus on medical technologies and therapeutics aimed at improving patient outcomes and advancing the field of practice.

“With our collaborations among nationally ranked health systems, NEOMED has been able to accelerate positive change across medical education, practice and discovery,” says John Langell, president of NEOMED. “Yet many areas of the medical industry, like innovation and commercialization, are largely untapped.”

Jessica Sublett, president and CEO of Bounce Innovation Hub, adds, “Northeast Ohio needed a comprehensive support infrastructure that aligns services, facilities and networks for healthcare start-ups. In NEOMED, we found a willing partner that also wanted to fuel the commercialization of new innovations to solve real world problems. Kinetic fills this current void, ensuring that innovators and their new technologies have the resources and expertise they need to not only survive, but thrive.”

Sources: The Pulse and Tribune Chronicle

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


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 15th, 2023

Many physicians and 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.

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UAMS BioVentures gets $3M to support health tech entrepreneurs from economically disadvantaged backgrounds


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 15th, 2023

BioVentures, the tech transfer office of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), has received a nearly $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce to support health tech entrepreneurs from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

The four-year $2,999,997 grant comes from the Capital Readiness Program, launched by the Minority Business Development Agency to help underserved entrepreneurs grow and scale their businesses.

The funding will support BioVentures and the Arkansas Collaborative for Technological and Innovative Venture Equality (ACTIVE), a statewide start-up incubator focused on socially and economically disadvantaged founders aiming to develop health-related companies in Arkansas.

“The Capital Readiness Program grant is a game changer for BioVentures and ACTIVE,” says Kevin Sexton, president of BioVentures. “This initiative could double the number of health technology companies in Arkansas, and those new additions would be from socially and economically disadvantaged businesses.”

Shuk-Mei Ho, vice chancellor for Research and Innovation at UAMS, adds that small businesses make up a significant portion of the state’s economy yet often face funding and support challenges, in addition to the challenge of biases based on gender, race, disability, veteran status and other factors.

“BioVentures has unique expertise and a track record of supporting start-ups and fostering innovation,” Ho says. “By working with our many partners on the grant, we have a great opportunity to accelerate health tech innovation and drive economic growth across Arkansas communities.”

Source: UAMS News

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New accelerator at Florida Atlantic University will help businesses engage with government agencies


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 15th, 2023

The Innovation and Business Development program at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) has been chosen as the regional administrator for the Florida APEX Accelerator, a newly established federal network that aims to expand the number of U.S. businesses capable of collaborating with government agencies.

The APEX Accelerator will provide companies with the knowledge, resources and networks required to scale, innovate and contribute to the country’s industrial base and Florida’s economy. Notably, the program helps companies draft government contract proposals and connect with agencies that could benefit from their technologies or services.

FAU’s Innovation and Business Development program is part of the university’s Division of Research and helps guide university technologies through the commercialization process.

“The APEX Accelerator represents part of the continuing effort of the FAU Division of Research to enhance business development in our local community, which starts at the technology transfer level so that life-changing discoveries in the laboratory can be translated to real-world applications” says Gregg Fields, interim vice president for research at FAU.

The next phase of the APEX Accelerator is to establish a network of defense proposal labs where companies can participate as cohorts to learn the various steps of constructing government contracts and grant proposals from business consultants with extensive experience in the sector.

“Our goal is to put these enhanced business development tools into the hands of as many qualified businesses as possible,” says Sandra D. Marin Ruiz, assistant vice president of FAU’s Business Development and Innovation program and regional director of the new accelerator. “The APEX Accelerator is an opportunity for the innovators in our region to access capital through government contracts and also grants for developing new intellectual property and access to market. These resources are not exclusive to FAU. They are here for the whole community.”

Source: FAU Newsdesk

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EDA awards grants to 60 organizations across the U.S. to boost innovation and entrepreneurship


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 15th, 2023

The US Economic Development Administration (EDA) has awarded grants to 60 organizations across the country to support innovation, entrepreneurship and economic growth.

Totaling $53 million, the “Build to Scale” grants aim to accelerate technology commercialization by increasing access to business assistance and start-up capital. Industries targeted by the program include agriculture technology, bioscience, advanced manufacturing, health technology and others.

The awardees include nonprofits, universities, government agencies and other organizations that place a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is Investing in America to help create entrepreneurial ecosystems across the country and put quality, 21st century job opportunities in people’s backyards,” says Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “The ‘Build to Scale’ program will unlock innovation potential in regions all over the nation, improving our economic competitiveness now, and for decades to come.”

Alejandra Y. Castillo, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, comments, “EDA is proud to partner with this year’s ‘Build to Scale’ grantees as they fuel regional innovation hubs and technology-based economic development strategies throughout the U.S. Investing in scalable start-ups and expanding access entrepreneurial capital will yield good-paying jobs, economic resiliency, and equitable growth in communities throughout America.”

Source (including full list of grantees): EDA

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SBIR and STTR Step-by-Step: A How-To Guide for Preparing Winning NIH and NSF Proposals


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 15th, 2023

For many university start-ups, obtaining the non-dilutive funding available through the NIH and NSF SBIR/STTR programs is a critical bridge to the future, allowing continuing development and setting the stage for future investments and scale-up. But all SBIR/STTR proposals are not created equal, and faculty innovators, start-up founders, TTO staff, and sponsored research managers must understand how to ensure their applications stand apart from the herd.

That’s why we’ve produced SBIR and STTR Step-by-Step: A How-To Guide for Preparing Winning NIH and NSF Proposals, a two-session distance learning collection filled with clear and proven guidance from an expert with a long track record of crafting successful applications.

Our program leader, Sonia Vohnout, President & Founder of OppsSpot, LLC, reviews step-by-step how to apply and write compelling proposals for submission to the NIH and NSF. Focusing on the NIH and NSF application process, respectively, each program covers strategies for telling your innovation’s story, capitalizing on your strategic partnerships, clearly identifying your customer market, and structuring your proposal to capture the reviewer’s full attention. Both programs also provide detailed guidance on:

  • The submission process step-by-step, section by section
  • How to clearly explain and justify your project’s fundability
  • Providing evidence of value via letters of support, spotlighting team members with crucial skillsets
  • Best practices for using graphs, data and photos to help articulate your story and mission
  • Critical submission deadlines and other requirements

For complete details or to order, click here.

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Johns Hopkins licenses novel lupus nephritis biomarkers to Exagen


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 15th, 2023

Johns Hopkins University (JHU) and Exagen, a leading provider of autoimmune testing solutions, have signed an exclusive license agreement to develop and commercialize novel patented biomarkers for therapeutic management of patients with lupus nephritis.

The biomarkers were discovered in the lab of JHU researchers Michelle Petri and Andrea Fava. Through the license agreement, Exagen plans to develop the biomarkers into assays to aid diagnostic and treatment decisions by providing unique clinical insight into a specific patient’s lupus nephritis in a non-invasive manner.

“We are very excited to accelerate the development of these highly innovative biomarkers for lupus nephritis patient management,” says John Aballi, Exagen president and CEO.

“Exagen has a strong track record of serving clinicians in the autoimmune space,” Aballi adds. “Having the opportunity to work with this exceptional team further reinforces our commitment to developing novel technology in this space.”

Source: Yahoo! Finance

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U of Cincinnati sees continued growth in innovation and commercialization


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 15th, 2023

The University of Cincinnati (UC) has been steadily growing as a hub for innovation and technology commercialization, a recent report shows.

In 2018-2022 at UC, invention disclosures rose 51%, patent filings rose 62% and issued patents rose 94% compared to the previous five years. This shift coincides with the 2018 launch of the Office of Innovation, housed in UC’s 1819 Innovation Hub.

“The work UC has done investing in our office and increasing our budget is absolutely significant,” says Geoffrey Pinski, assistant vice president for tech transfer at UC. “Now we’re seeing a more focused hiring approach, not only recruiting the best and the brightest, but recruiting those that are focused on commercialization, that have an interest in the process.”

A growing number of UC faculty have formed research and development partnerships with companies including Procter & Gamble and GE Aerospace.

“We often have expertise they don’t have,” Pinski says. “We have scientists that are looking at many problems from multiple different perspectives than their engineers, who are focused on their product line only. It’s truly a diversity of thought that provides that balance.”

Going forward, Pinski sees the university investing heavily in digital innovation and national security research, as well as expanding its leukemia research.

Source: UC News

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The University-Industry Engagement Book of Best Practices now available


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 15th, 2023

The University-Industry Engagement Book of Best Practices is a 326-page resource that’s chock-full of how-to strategies and case studies covering the most crucial responsibilities of corporate relations and industry engagement professionals. The rich collection of best practices offers success strategies and expert guidance focused exclusively on building, managing, and expanding corporate partnerships for your university.

The University-Industry Engagement Book of Best Practices is packed with over 80 detailed articles filled with tips, tactics, ideas, expert guidance, charts and graphs, and nuts-and-bolts solutions in 9 critical areas: Contracting; Partnership Development and Stewardship; Industry Advisory Boards; Office Structure and Integration; Talent Pipeline Development; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Faculty Outreach and Engagement; Alumni Outreach and Engagement; and Economic Development.

For complete details and to view the full table of contents, click here.

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Caltech start-up gets FDA approval for noninvasive device that can detect signs of heart failure


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 15th, 2023

A Caltech start-up recently received FDA approval for a technology that could improve the way heart failure is diagnosed.

Ventric Health aims to commercialize a device known as Vivio that can noninvasively detect signs of heart failure.

Based on research conducted by Caltech professor and Ventric co-founder Mory Gharib, the technology involves a wearable arm cuff that monitors a patient’s pulse, paired with a machine-learning algorithm that detects pulse characteristics associated with heart failure.

Now that Ventric has obtained FDA clearance to sell Vivio, Gharib says the start-up aims to deploy the devices to healthcare groups and medical centers, where they can be used to routinely monitor incoming patients’ heart health.

Gharib credits Caltech for providing commercialization support to his team, as well as to other innovative faculty members and students at the university.

“We don’t just keep inventions at home sitting on the shelf,” Gharib says. “We are trying to get them out into the world and to have a societal impact.”

Source: Caltech

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Purdue researchers develop noninvasive devices to measure uric acid levels in sweat


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 15th, 2023

Researchers at Purdue University have developed noninvasive medical devices to improve the monitoring and treatment of a range of physiological and psychological conditions.

The wearable devices use sensors known as EPICS to provide repeated monitoring of uric acid (UA) levels in human sweat over long periods of time.

“Variation in UA concentration could indicate physiological diseases such as gout, hyperuricemia and hypertension, as well as psychological conditions such as anxiety and depression,” says Wenzhou Wu, associate professor at Purdue and head of the research team behind the technology.

The EPICS have higher sensitivity and better wearability than current wearable sensors that measure UA levels in sweat. They also serve as a less invasive, more rapid method than testing UA levels in blood.

“The intrusive nature of collecting blood and the delay between sample collection and analysis are major hindrances, especially to personalized remote treatments like flare-up prevention and just-in-time nutrition control,” Wu says. “Monitoring UA levels in sweat samples has the advantages of being noninvasive and offering real-time results.”

Wu disclosed the technology to the Purdue Innovates Office of Technology Commercialization, which has applied for a patent. The office is currently seeking industry partners to develop and commercialize the technology.

Source: Purdue Research Foundation News

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