Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Johns Hopkins creates new role to usher life science technologies forward


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 6th, 2021

A detailed article on the new Director of Life Science Technology Development position recently created by Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures appears in the December issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe and access the full article, as well as the publication’s 13+ year archive of best practices and success strategies for TTOs, click here.

In a large, busy tech transfer office like Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures (JHTV), which handles 500 invention disclosures a year, making sure promising assets get the attention they deserve is a significant challenge — and it’s a potentially life-saving challenge when it comes to life sciences innovations. To ensure none of those potential life-savers languish unattended, the university created a new director of life science technology development position and hired Patrick Ho to fill that role.

Ho and his team, including business analysts Valerie Kinchen, PhD, and Michael Wormald, PhD, serve as internal strategists who perform in-depth analysis on promising but early-stage technologies. This trio brings a unique skillset to JHTV’s staff, fulfilling a critical need to provide a coherent JHTV message to the campus community and serve as internal and external contact points. They also play a critical role as the people responsible for identifying high-impact and high-value projects.

Ho points out that his two team members are instrumental because they earned PhD degrees from Johns Hopkins University (JHU). “They know the ecosystem extremely well, and that is very key to our success when we are reaching out to faculty,” he says. Kinchen and Wormald not only graduated from JHU, but also completed internships in JHTV’s commercialization program. As part of Ho’s team, they serve as project managers.

Project management is key to what Ho’s team delivers to the university, and, as Ho points out, project management can “bleed” into strategy. The project managers are an integral part of ensuring that projects move forward, identifying any sticking points and removing obstacles. Ho describes one instance: “There was a project where the investor faced a hurdle finding CROs (contract research organizations) that could do B cell library screening for antibodies. We identified those candidate companies, and that led to good things to help move the project forward.”

To help in technology development, Ho’s team extends its services to many aspects of technology transfer. They may help with e-filing or educating high-profile, early-stage VIP investigators. “We are everywhere over the map,” he says. “Part of my background is having a broad background in IP, being on the bench, doing business development, so I feel very comfortable not just in each respective space, but I also understand how each space affects the others. And so I think that is another element that we are hopefully adding value for JHTV and Johns Hopkins.”

Ho notes that “a lot of hands touch projects, and sometimes there are too many ‘chefs in the kitchen,’ and sometimes there are not enough. Finding the right balance depends on the technology and the time of the technology.” He offers a restaurant analogy: “If you are in a restaurant and it is in the morning, and that is not when your clients come in, having more than one chef is not a good thing. However, during dinner, when you have lots of reservations, then you can’t handle it, [and] the more chefs the better. Technology is like that. You have to be very nimble and flexible.”

Part of Ho’s role is to speed up the technology development process by identifying high-value, high impact tech opportunities. But how those opportunities get to market is not the primary concern. Instead of focusing on a specific path to commercialization, they zero in on what each innovator needs to move their innovation forward and help them on an individual basis. “We have that bandwidth and power to help spear it through, whether it is IP support, whether it is developing strategy, whether it is developing a relationship with the faculty, or whether it is business development.”

Ho points out that some projects may not be high-profile but involve nascent technology that has exceptional potential — someday. “Developing technology is no trivial matter,” he reflects. “It requires time. Sometimes, developing technology is like producing a good bottle of wine. You need time to think about it, ponder it, explore it before the moment of clarity kicks in for the faculty and the technology transfer office and for its external partners too.”

Some of these projects “could be years out,” adds Ho, “but [we still need] eyes on that project, either fully engaged or at some level being able to step in and step out, waiting for data to happen.” Ho’s team not only watches as these projects inch forward, they can advocate for them within JHTV to keep them from falling off the radar.

In addition to JHU’s commercialization pipeline, Ho is also nurturing the university’s research pipeline. When Ho sees potential in early-stage research, he identifies resources and fills in the gaps. If needed, his team writes research plans or investigates how to get corporate sponsorship. “In a true sense of the word, [we are doing] technology development, but [we are also doing] business development, coordinating funding strategies, negotiations, and everything else.”

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2021 could be a banner year for digital healthcare start-ups


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 6th, 2021

Digital healthcare start-ups are likely to see a number of positive trends in the new year, according to some investors and experts — a trend that TTOs should take note of. continue reading »

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Reinforcing University IP Policies to Protect Data Ownership & Monetization


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 6th, 2021

In recent years, data output among research institutions has expanded exponentially. 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 Tech Transfer Central’s Distance Learning Division has teamed up with two attorneys from Amster, Rothstein and Ebenstein, LLP, along with data licensing experts from both MIT and Duke University, to bring you this critical presentation: Reinforcing University IP Policies to Protect Data Ownership & Monetization, scheduled for January 26th.

Register today to learn how to examine your existing IP policies for all types of data coverage, identify gaps that need reinforcing, and gain a solid understanding of the controlling federal regulations as well as potential liabilities. Our world-class panel will also cover licensing and royalty distribution issues, along with risks and best practices related to data storage, retention, and access. For complete details and to register, click here.

Also coming soon:

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University of Missouri system settles patent lawsuit against former professor


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 6th, 2021

The University of Missouri system has reached a confidential settlement with a former professor it accused of stealing and selling student research. continue reading »

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UCLA researchers develop mitochondria transfer device to potentially treat major diseases


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 6th, 2021

Researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) have developed a novel device that transfers isolated mitochondria and their associated mitochondrial DNA into mammalian cells to potentially treat a range of debilitating diseases. continue reading »

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U of Toronto start-up uses iPhone camera to measure foot sizes for online shoe shoppers


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 6th, 2021

A University of Toronto (UT) start-up has turned the iPhone’s facial recognition camera into a feet-sizing tool for people looking to buy new shoes online. continue reading »

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The Guide to Commercializing Mobile Apps on Campus


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 6th, 2021

For university TTOs, mobile apps present a tremendous opportunity for new revenues as well as new relationships with the hundreds of students and faculty creating apps on campus. But the fast-moving mobile app market is a different animal with its own unique challenges and complexities — as well as unfamiliar legal issues that can derail your efforts and lead to time-consuming, costly litigation.

The Guide to Commercializing Mobile Apps on Campus — a 4-session distance learning collection — is designed to help you tap into the massive apps marketplace as a way to enhance TTO revenue and better serve your student and faculty app developers. Along with over 4 hours of solid advice and takeaways, you’ll receive 50 pages of program materials created by the session leaders. For complete details, click here.

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Department of Homeland Security to launch accelerator for federally funded technologies


By Jason Norris
Published: January 6th, 2021

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is launching a new program this week to boost the commercialization of federally funded homeland security technologies.

The Homeland Security Startup Studio will form teams of entrepreneurs and match them with S&T-funded technologies to assess their commercial potential and explore launching companies around them. The program may eventually include technologies from other agencies and laboratories.

“The goals of the Homeland Security Startup Studio are to build the foundational entrepreneurial knowledge and skill sets for teams to quickly assess the potential for DHS and commercial use cases and to build startups and spin off companies quickly so they can successfully license technology and directly impact the security posture of the U.S.” says Megan Mahle, director of S&T’s Office of Industry Partnerships.

The program was formed in partnership with FedTech, a startup accelerator that focuses on technologies from mission-driven organizations such as the Department of Defense, NASA, Department of Energy, federal laboratories and universities.

The launch event for the Homeland Security Startup Studio will be on January 7.

Source: DHS

World Benchmark Report 2019/2020: Data, Insights, and Best Practices from Business Incubators and Accelerators is the fifth edition of this gold-standard benchmark study, featuring details on 364 incubators and accelerators from 84 countries. Click here for details.

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Ohio State U researchers develop AI method to discover new uses for existing drugs


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 6th, 2021

Researchers at Ohio State University (OSU) have developed a machine-learning technology to identify existing medications that could be repurposed to treat diseases for which they are not prescribed. continue reading »

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Sebia licenses multiple myeloma test from Netherlands universities


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 6th, 2021

Sebia, a leader in diagnostics and monitoring devices for multiple myeloma (MM), has entered into a license agreement with Erasmus University Medical Center and Radboud University Medical Center to advance a novel test for the disease. continue reading »

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Ohio IP Promise forges ahead after successful first year of statewide tech transfer collaboration


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: December 23rd, 2020

A detailed article on the progress and results of the Ohio IP Promise initiative appears in the December issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe and access the full article, click here.

One of the sure signs that a new initiative has proven successful in its initial stages is how rapidly and how strongly it moves ahead into new areas of growth. Based on that standard, the Ohio IP Promise program has passed with flying colors.

Launched in 2019, the program, operated jointly by InnovateOhio and the Ohio Department of Higher Education, involved all of the state’s R-1 universities working together to boost tech transfer opportunities in the region and to help local talent to “stay at home.” They adopted guiding principles that included:

  • providing flexibility or choices to potential partners for accessing university IP or sponsoring research;
  • being transparent about what the commercialization process will involve and what the terms are up front;
  • providing simple and fair guidelines for start-up creation;
  • communicating licensing processes in a clear and prominent way on university websites;
  • making it easy for all stakeholders — including businesses, entrepreneurs and investors — to engage with clearly defined entry points.
  • eliminating impediments that can slow the pace of commercialization.

Each school agreed, for example, to post on its research website step-by-step instructions for how interested partners can go through the commercialization process at the institution, as well as standard option and licensing agreement templates that let both inventors and potential licensees know what their options are with regard to licensing terms.

Now, just one year after its inception, Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted noted that the program has:

  • Enabled the University of Cincinnati to generate a record 400% percent increase in start-ups spun out of UC intellectual property last year and a 1,000% increase this year.
  • The Ohio State University now has more than 100 active start-up companies in its portfolio, with the IP Promise making a direct and positive impact by encouraging transparency, speed, and ease of engagement.

At the same time, he shared plans for these additional initiative in the IP Promise program:

  • Establish a statewide inter-institutional agreement, to be used when two or more institutions jointly own an invention and wish to work together to commercialize it;
  • Establish a collection of institutional entrepreneurial resources; and
  • Establish agreement among members to use consistent non-financial starting terms.

The program will also begin to track five benchmarks to further measure the initiative’s success in promoting innovation: number of invention disclosures, the number of technologies licensed, number of start-ups launched, the total amount of portfolio funding, and the net promoter score to measure stakeholder satisfaction. They will be updated annually using five-year moving averages.

“It’s been fantastic,” says Geoffrey Pinski, director of the University of Cincinnati Technology Accelerator for Commercialization (UCTAC). “Before it started, we were pretty much doing the same things — tiers, express licenses, simplified processes — and many of those things became ‘Promise.’ We’ve already launched 20 start-ups this fiscal year. We’ve seen a record number of disclosures.”

 “We actually saw an impact very early on — and I would even argue before the program was announced,” adds Kevin Taylor, associate vice president of technology commercialization at The Ohio State University. “It served as a catalyst for universities to come together in a new, more robust way. We had always come together, but this meant we really had to collaborate.”

As the announcement of IP Promise approached, he explains, the universities had already begun working together on “how we embody principles at our universities in our unique ways,” so that “with the launch things had already changed. We had essentially updated websites, made sure we had template agreements online, talked about process, and had guidelines,” says Taylor. “It was already actually beneficial to our customers — faculty, staff, students, and external stakeholders.”

“The program has worked well and, more importantly, is the founding framework on which future initiatives and success will be built,” notes Joseph Jankowski, chief innovation officer at Case Western Reserve University. “This was well-established at its inception — the ‘Promise’ was not a one-time fix, but rather a collaborative commitment by Ohio’s research universities to continual improvement and growth of relationships with existing and future Ohio commercial entities. Its collective endorsement and enactment by our universities served as a signal that we will evolve our offerings and approach to business with regard to intellectual property access and enterprise-creation.”

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Purdue start-up raises $53M to advance its novel approach to immunotherapy


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: December 23rd, 2020

A Purdue University start-up has secured $53M in Series A financing to advance its highly precise approach to fighting cancer through immunotherapy. continue reading »

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