Tech Transfer Central

Technology Transfer Tactics, September 2022


Technology Transfer Tactics, September 2022The following is a list of the articles that appear in the September 2022 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 16, No. 9, September 2022

  • Strategies for managing underperforming licensees: Enforcer, counselor, or both? It happens to every TTO once in a while. You licensed patented technology to a company that just isn’t making enough progress, so your original expectations for licensing revenue, attainment of milestones, and associated fees aren’t met.
  • Founders Pledge programs: An overlooked opportunity for TTO-directed giving? Founders Pledge programs, through which start-up founders sign commitments to “give back” to their alma maters following some future exit or other financial windfall, have been around for more than 20 years but appear to have experienced a “growth spurt” among U.S. universities since 2013, when UC Berkeley launched a program that has been modeled by many other institutions. In fact, Imperial College London just initiated a program it claims to be the first in the U.K., and universities in Australia and Canada have also joined the bandwagon.
  • Venture studio model gaining traction as nurturer of university start-ups. Universities have become rather prolific start-up factories, but too few of these new ventures end up scaling into thriving businesses. In a 2020 paper written by Brigham Young University professors and published in Nature Biotechnology, 40% of the most recently formed university-licensed start-ups from the Top 50 patent producing universities never grew or added jobs, yet remained “active” for long periods of time.
  • John Hopkins Inventor’s Guide — a best practice roadmap to resources for faculty. Most TTOs have online access to information or a written summary to help their inventors navigate the ins and outs of how to go about getting an invention commercialized, but John Hopkins University has really knocked it out of the park with their comprehensive “Inventor’s Guide.” And it’s not just a valuable educational resource, it’s also a way to increase the number of faculty working with the TTO to ultimately get more inventions commercialized and start-ups formed.
  • Matchmaking Program looks to boost start-up activity and economic development. When the Wichita Entrepreneurship Coalition (ICT-EC) was awarded a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration for its “Build to Scale” venture program, there were a few entities that benefited – including the Office of Tech Transfer and Commercialization at Wichita State University (WSU).

Posted September 14th, 2022

Technology Transfer Tactics, August 2022


The following is a list of the articles that appear in the August 2022 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 16, No. 8, August 2022

  • TTO satisfaction surveys can bring critical improvements in faculty service. Two tech transfer programs surveying the faculty they interact with to assess customer satisfaction and obtain valuable feedback are both reporting good results in gathering information that has helped them improve their operations, though they use very different survey instruments and approaches.
  • U-M Startup Pipeline report helps raise early-stage investment capital. In an effort to reach investors in a more targeted way, the University of Michigan’s Innovation Partnerships Ventures team has created the U-M Startup Pipeline, a quarterly report that is shared with nearly 800 investors (some international), including strategic corporations. The team has worked with Wellspring Sophia to curate the start-ups.
  • Study points to technology maturity level as key to successful licensing. A minimum technology maturity level may be necessary for successful commercialization in some situations, according to research that could influence how tech transfer programs prioritize and de-risk their IP.
  • Guest Commentary: Seven steps to increase patent inventorship equity. It’s no secret that women are underrepresented as patent inventors in the United States. Institutional structures and biases, including patent education gaps, status hierarchy, and monetary incentives, contribute to the gender patent gap. Unfair inventorship attribution decisions create cumulative disadvantages in employment, tenure, and status. TTOs can help do something about it.
  • Stanford’s retreats help TTO staff identify and address issues, each other. Many corporations regularly hold department and unit retreats for any number of reasons — from helping the members of the staff improve their communications and ability to work together, to addressing key issues of the day. So, if major companies find them valuable, why not university TTOs?
  • “Work from Purdue” program helps build start-up ecosystem. For universities launching start-ups in “flyover country,” without an ecosystem to support those new ventures, keeping the new companies in the area can be a tough proposition.

Posted August 11th, 2022

Technology Transfer Tactics, July 2022


Technology Transfer Tactics, July 2022The following is a list of the articles that appear in the July 2022 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 16, No. 7, July 2022

  • TTOs face “impossible” challenge in making accurate financial projections. Okay, so you signed “X” number of licenses last year for a total of “X” dollars. How many will you sign this year, or next, and how much revenue with they produce? What about your start-ups? How many will be formed this year? How many will exit in, say, five years? What about upfront fees? Patent reimbursements?
  • Drive a collaborative culture with non-monetary TTO metrics. While metrics enable technology transfer offices to define and track progress toward performance goals, many of those metrics are very rigid, says Michael Dixon, PhD, president and CEO of UNeMed, the tech transfer and commercialization office for the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the University of Nebraska at Omaha. “It’s worth taking a step back and looking at the softer metrics that help us measure and then develop our collaborative culture.”
  • Drive for innovation education expected to boost tech transfer at Mass General Brigham. In most TTOs, commercialization training is typically offered only to those researchers, faculty, or clinicians who express an interest and have an idea for creating a product or company. While that’s fine, what if you could provide that same training to essentially the entire organization so everyone – particularly potential inventors and innovators – had a baseline knowledge of what it takes to bring an idea to the marketplace? At Mass General Brigham (MGB) Hospital, that’s exactly what is now happening, and leaders there hope it pays off in a significant boost to commercialization activity.
  • Avoiding pitfalls from ‘prophetic’ language in marketing summaries. Nearly everyone who’s seen or heard financial advertising is familiar with the phrase: “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.” Or in the stock market, it might be “read the prospectus before you invest.” In fact, these common cautions have become almost clichéd.
  • Pitch Prep helps Northwestern student start-up competition increase its value. While there’s nothing new about student start-up competitions, Northwestern University has figured out how to add a unique twist to theirs by offering semifinalists “Pitch Prep,” an intensive program designed to hone pitching skills and prepare student entrepreneurs for the rough and tumble world of start-up venture funding.

Posted July 13th, 2022

Technology Transfer Tactics, June 2022


Technology Transfer Tactics, June 2022The following is a list of the articles that appear in the June 2022 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 16, No. 6, June 2022

  • Rogue EIRs and mentors can bring trouble, need limits and guardrails. Entrepreneurs-in-residence and mentors play important roles in guiding university start-ups, but the same independent streak responsible for their success can sometimes lead them to do things that are contrary to the university’s policies or expectations. Experts say tech transfer programs need to establish guidelines and guardrails to keep EIRs in their lane.
  • Don’t let “dead equity” complicate a cap table and stymie start-up growth. “Dead equity” can be a major red flag when potential investors look at a university start-up’s cap table, prompting concerns about whether founders are still contributing to the company or just along for the ride.
  • $3 million infusion for gap funding promises a surge in Cornell’s innovation pipeline. Ignite, Cornell University’s gap funding series, will expand its innovation pipeline in the coming years using a $3 million annual infusion of funding from the provost’s office and a handsome donation from alum Peggy J. Koenig, chair of the private equity firm Abry Partners.
  • Emory TTO’s innovation awards: A centerpiece of campus culture-building. Earlier this spring, staffers at Emory University’s Office of Technology Transfer in Atlanta, GA, breathed a sigh of relief as they held the Annual Celebration of Technology and Innovation at the Emory Conference Center.
  • Harvard and VC partner on internships focused on underrepresented. Harvard University’s Office of Technology Development is going beyond its typical responsibilities to help boost diversity in innovation with a targeted internship program in partnership with a local VC.

Posted June 15th, 2022

Technology Transfer Tactics, May 2022


Technology Transfer Tactics, May 2022The following is a list of the articles that appear in the May 2022 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 16, No. 5, May 2022

  • NFTs and NILs hit tech transfer: Some opportunity, some hype. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) commodities are driving a digital marketplace of everything from art to memes and athlete images, and now university tech transfer programs are getting involved with promoting their institutions and athletes — and their trademarks and other IP. It’s a brave new world and the trailblazers are finding out what it takes to work in this arena.
  • Treat those ‘undercooked’ disclosures with TLC and reap benefits later. Tech transfer pros are expert in handling disclosures and navigating them through the various paths to commercialization. But what about innovations whose disclosures clearly indicate they are not yet ‘ready for prime time’ — what’s the best way to handle them?
  • AUTM 2022 coverage: In royalty distribution matters, expect the unexpected. Listening to a group of tech transfer operations staff filling a small conference room at the recent AUTM annual meeting in New Orleans for a session on royalty distribution, you might wonder whether these professionals had degrees in law, business, math, science, accounting, or military strategy — or all of the above.
  • WiSys creates a VentureHome for entrepreneurs at smaller campuses. WiSys VentureHome. It may sound like a new GPS system, but it’s actually a natural extension of a core principle known as “the Wisconsin Idea” — shared by the University of Wisconsin (UW) System and WiSys — that what happens on UW campuses should enhance people’s lives beyond the boundaries of the campus.
  • ‘Dare to Discover’ campaign at U Iowa creates buzz for research and tech transfer. TTOs looking for a new and impactful way to boost their brand in the community and generate goodwill among their early career researchers may want to take a page — or a banner — from the University of Iowa’s “Dare to Discover” campaign.
  • OIG clarifies anti-kickback rules for MD inventors with start-up equity. A recent advisory opinion from the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) represents good news for physician inventors and the start-ups in which they have received ownership interests.

Posted May 16th, 2022

Technology Transfer Tactics, April 2022


The following is a list of the articles that appear in the April 2022 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 16, No. 4, April 2022

  • Ohio State’s scoring system guides TTO in identifying and mitigating risk. A detailed risk management tracking and scoring system, like the one implemented at The Ohio State University two years ago, “is an essential activity for any TTO,” asserts Kevin Taylor, associate vice president for technology commercialization there. The OSU system, used not only to measure risk but also to show the path towards mitigation of those risks, “has been invaluable,” he says. “It has empowered us, empowered the institution, and built confidence in our ability to manage risk.”
  • Two new university venture funds look to change the start-up landscape. The University of Washington, a public, PAC-12 research ‘powerhouse,’ has about 60,000 total students with campuses in Bothell, Seattle, and Tacoma. Concordia University is a faith-based school owned by the Lutheran Church located in Mequon, WI, with about 5,000 enrolled students. And yet these schools, so totally unalike, have both started venture funds within the past year to help start-ups cross the legendary “Valley of Death” that claims so many of them before they get a chance to grow.
  • How U Missouri’s TTO focuses on improvement. When Lisa Lorenzen moved to the University of Missouri nearly three years ago from a similar job at Iowa State University, she brought a wealth of experience that she was determined to put to good use.
  • UMSL’s DEI accelerator is ‘beacon of hope’ for under-represented founders. TTOs have become heavily focused on incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) principles into their organizations, looking to move the needle on inventorship and entrepreneurship among under-represented populations. But how the talk about DEI gets translated into practice is still a work in progress for many universities.
  • CU Boulder winds up hyper-accelerator program, shares lessons learned. Earlier this year, officials at the University of Colorado Boulder announced seven teams that completed its Pandemic Hyper-Accelerator for Science and Technology (PHAST) program, which was designed to leverage state and federal funding made available to identify and fund start-ups that address the economic, health, and safety risks caused by the pandemic.

Posted April 15th, 2022

Technology Transfer Tactics, March 2022


Technology Transfer Tactics, March 2022The following is a list of the articles that appear in the March 2022 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 16, No. 3, March 2022

  • ‘Great Resignation’ hits TTOs with staff shortages, changes to recruiting. Like employers all over the country, tech transfer programs are struggling with staffing shortages caused by what some have called the Great Resignation, the recent trend in which people are leaving their jobs in search of better lifestyles and more money, with employers finding it difficult to replace them.
  • AUTM 2022: Heard in the Halls. The 2022 AUTM annual meeting in New Orleans marked the first time many tech transfer professionals could schmooze in person since the pandemic shut down most if not all face-to-face events, and there was a clear sense of relief among the more than 1,000 attendees gathered there just as Mardis Gras was about to kick into high gear.
  • USF opens up its shelves of available IP to local entrepreneurs. Every research institution has intellectual property that is not being developed or marketed for one reason or another, and it can sit on a shelf for many years and in time lose any value it may have once held. But the University of South Florida is doing something about it.
  • Baylor partners with VC to boost commercialization. In another instance of the growing trend of university TTOs collaborating with third parties to enhance their commercialization efforts, Baylor University and VC firm Waco Ventures (WAVE) are partnering in what they call the Lab-to-Market Collaborative (L2M). The collaboration has already been involved in the launch of three start-ups.
  • Commercialization Engine at Notre Dame grows start-ups with internal de-risking. The Innovation, De-Risking, and Enterprise Acceleration (IDEA) Center at The University of Notre Dame isn’t your typical technology transfer office. In addition to student entrepreneurship programs and competitions and an innovation lab, it offers the Commercialization Engine.
  • Use of LinkedIn helps transform tech portal into marketing resource. Existing and potential industry partners of Yeda Technology Transfer of Weizmann Institute in Israel recently received a LinkedIn message from Yeda’s marketing team inviting them to join its Members portal. Many TTOs use portals to provide a doorway to interested parties, but thanks to an innovative method at Yeda, the typically passive portal approach becomes active marketing as these potential industry partners are identified and contacted more swiftly and with much greater volume than ever before.

Posted March 17th, 2022

Technology Transfer Tactics, February 2022


The following is a list of the articles that appear in the February 2022 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 16, No. 2, February 2022

  • UMB New Venture Group’s model succeeds in boosting region’s start-up ecosystem. For TTOs in less than vibrant regions of the country for venture capital investments, getting across the Valley of Death can be treacherous, and often deadly without adequate funding. And that’s particularly true for biotech start-ups and others with a long development timeline dependent on significant financial backing, even in the early stages.
  • Standing to sue can be roadblock to pursuing patent infringement claims. License agreements may not always include an adequate transfer of rights that allows the licensee standing to pursue a patent infringement case without joining the university itself in the suit, and a recent court decision shows how important that can be in protecting your IP.
  • Column: As venture deal terms narrow, TTOs should focus on investor quality. Universities — via their tech transfer offices — often receive equity as partial consideration for technologies they license to start-ups. Most of these ventures will raise multiple rounds of financing. As relatively small, junior shareholders, TTOs typically are deal term “takers” with limited ability to impact the deal terms of follow-on rounds. A recent survey of venture deal terms strongly suggests that in most cases this is not a liability, as the remarkable commonality of deal terms reflects limited negotiability in any case.
  • How one university established a way of monitoring IP leakage. Leakage of intellectual property is not usually considered a major issue for most universities, but the prospect of its consequences is compelling enough that many may wonder about it and ponder how to deal with it.
  • NJIT targets entrepreneur gap with a series of diversity-focused programs. While most university TTOs have an ample supply of viable technologies in their intellectual property portfolio to power numerous start-ups, finding entrepreneurial leads often keeps start-up development from reaching its full potential.

Posted February 14th, 2022

Technology Transfer Tactics, January 2022


The following is a list of the articles that appear in the January 2022 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 16, No. 1, January 2022

  • As rules improve, TTOs may want to take another look at crowdfunding their start-ups. Equity crowdfunding first emerged as an option for start-ups when the SEC permitted this form of online fundraising in 2016, but university tech transfer programs and their start-ups have not pursued the option with much fervor. That could change now that the limit on crowdfunding amounts has been increased, and as start-ups report success with crowdfunding not just as a way to draw in cash, but as a bridge to investors who can more directly invest in the company later on.
  • TTOs share new resolutions and revisit old ones for 2022. As the New Year ticked by, TTT spoke with a handful of tech transfer leaders about their resolutions and strategic goals for 2022, and we also checked in with several we interviewed in 2020 to see how they’ve done in the intervening years, and what’s changed about their plans and wishes. Here’s what they had to say.
  • Columbia program takes in non-university ventures to boost impact, grow ecosystem. A new program at Columbia University is calling on the resources of its technology transfer office and others across the university to help launch promising start-ups from outside the university and tap into the school’s considerable expertise in venture creation, as well as its specialized research equipment.
  • UC Riverside’s “Angel Summit” works to build out the local investor ecosystem. Situated on about 1,200 acres on the eastern edge of its namesake city, Riverside is one of the 10 campuses of the University of California system, which combined represents one of the biggest tech transfer operations in the world. However, one thing it has lacked is local angel investors.
  • “Commercialization Counselor” aims to foster innovation culture. Typically, a faculty member would start interacting with their technology transfer office when they have an invention ready for disclosure. But depending on the faculty member’s awareness of the commercialization process and the TTO itself, their first contact may be too early, too late, or just right. It’s that “too late” possibility that presents real problems.

Posted January 17th, 2022

Technology Transfer Tactics, December 2021


Technology Transfer Tactics, December 2021The following is a list of the articles that appear in the December 2021 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 15, No. 12, December 2021

  • TTOs grapple with new DOE domestic manufacturing rules, some will avoid projects. The Department of Energy’s new policy requiring inventions resulting from DOE-funded R&D to be “substantially manufactured” in the United States has tech transfer leaders studying how to comply, and some are determining that the burden is too great. Those programs are deciding to decline licensing of DOE-funded inventions altogether.
  • U Memphis hires post-docs full-time to start businesses using university IP. Their website calls the Patents2Products program “A New Frontier for Entrepreneurship” — and perhaps it is. The program, which is a partnership between the University of Memphis and Epicenter, a non-profit entrepreneurship hub in the greater Memphis area, hires post-doc fellows on a full-time basis to start businesses using patented IP developed at the university.
  • Grant funding for TTO operations and programs: An overlooked resource. Federal grants are the lifeblood of university research, and TTOs also benefit from the innovations that spring from that funding. But tech transfer offices can benefit more directly by applying for and gaining grant funds to pay for their own internal projects or initiatives, as several TTOs are proving. And as federal agencies have become keen to support innovation and entrepreneurship, ignoring these opportunities may amount to a significant missed opportunity.
  • McGill gap fund uses unique phased approach to support full innovation lifecycle. McGill University in Montreal, Canada, — celebrating its 200th anniversary this year — is taking a decidedly new path to funding its promising technologies and start-ups. Seeking a more effective way to cross the Valley of Death while supporting innovation throughout a technology’s commercialization journey, the university’s TTO created the McGill Innovation Fund (MIF).
  • AI-powered tool lets TTOs expand mentor networks, boost alumni connections. University TTOs looking to expand their expert and mentor networks — and then connect those networks with appropriate start-ups or projects — can spend many hours e-mailing, calling, and engaging in other forms of outreach. It’s a part of the job that can often be left on the back burner when staffing is tight and more pressing work often leaves it sitting on the “to-do” list.
  • Venture Analyst programs employ grad students as a force multiplier. TTOs facing the perennial dilemma of understaffing may want to take a close look at what the Washington Research Foundation (WRF) is doing to assist in evaluating its large portfolio of potential investments in university start-ups.

Posted December 13th, 2021

Technology Transfer Tactics, November 2021


Technology Transfer Tactics, November 2021The following is a list of the articles that appear in the November 2021 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 15, No. 11, November 2021

  • Start-up board positions must be filled carefully and used appropriately. University leaders have long debated whether it is a good idea to have representation on the board of faculty start-up companies, but for those that favor taking a seat, there are still questions about how to structure that position. Some may want the board seat to be a full voting member, while others may go with an observer seat in which the person does not actively participate.
  • Fred Hutch used this roadmap to dramatically improve its tech transfer results. When Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center spun off Juno Therapeutics, which has become a big player in cell therapy and diagnostics after its acquisition by Celgene and later by Bristol Myers Squibb, they might have assumed that success would lead to a surge of interest among VCs and other partners looking for more innovations.
  • Purdue’s link to Boomerang Ventures illustrates value of third-party help for TTOs. There has been a trend developing recently wherein university TTOs — even large ones — work with outside parties to realize commercialization goals by adding expertise or resources they may not have in-house. A case in point: The newly announced partnership between the Purdue Research Foundation’s (PRF) Purdue Foundry and its Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) and Boomerang Ventures.
  • A fresh take on summer school boosts SUNY’s commercialization pipeline. In popular culture, summer school remains stereotyped as a place for playing catch-up. However, the Albany, NY-based SUNY Research Foundation, which serves The State University of New York and its 64-campus system, is turning that stereotype on its head — even amid a pandemic — via the SUNY Startup Summer School (S4).
  • VCU’s new TTO newsletter sets a high standard in marketing innovations. Virginia Commonwealth University tech transfer office’s new publication, Launchpad, is a textbook example of a TTO creating a high-quality vehicle to publicize the university’s tech talent and commercialization prowess.
  • AUTM, universities support U Michigan in IP assignment dispute. AUTM and a group of prominent universities have filed an amici curiae brief in the case of Omni MedSci, Inc. v. Apple Inc., which addresses how tech transfer programs use general statements in their bylaws and contracts about the assignment of intellectual property rights, and how that relates to specific assignments made for individual inventions.

Posted November 16th, 2021

Technology Transfer Tactics, October 2021


Technology Transfer Tactics, October 2021The following is a list of the articles that appear in the October 2021 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 15, No. 10, October 2021

  • TTOs continue to adapt to shifting realities of the pandemic. As COVID vaccines became available in early 2021, optimism grew. But, as the Delta variant took hold in the summer of 2021 and now extends into the fall, we wondered how technology transfer offices were handling the resurgence of the virus, how their operations were adjusting, and what they expect in the coming months. We asked 12 TTOs across the country how they were doing.
  • In wake of Omni v. Apple, it’s time to review your IP assignment language again. Tech transfer programs relying on general statements in their bylaws and contracts about the assignment of intellectual property rights may need to reassess whether they are sufficient in light of a recent ruling from a Federal Circuit court. After going through a similar shift after the landmark Stanford v. Roche case a full decade ago, TTOs may want to revisit that assignment language once again.
  • IP attorney’s challenge: Is your TTO developing metrics that matter? There’s certainly a place for traditional TTO metrics like licensing revenues and number of invention disclosures, patent applications, start-ups and issued patents. But they’re not really providing actionable information on whether the office is meeting its goals and optimizing performance in terms of portfolio management, claims IP attorney Tony Gangemi, a partner in Murtha Cullina’s Business & Finance Department and chair of its Intellectual Property Practice Group.
  • U Alaska’s Ambassador Program embeds tech transfer into campus culture. We’ve all heard of student ambassadors, but what about tech transfer ambassadors? At the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) — where a tiny TTO staff needed a way to extend its reach within a limited budget — the concept has taken off and has become woven into its overall culture. The school’s program taps students, faculty and staff as Ambassadors, whose charge is to promote innovation and entrepreneurship as well as raise awareness of the Office of Intellectual Property and Commercialization (OIPC). And it’s working — the ambassadors are not only making more people aware, but their efforts have significantly increased disclosures.

Posted October 15th, 2021