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September 10, 2023 | Tom Ballard

LaunchTN announces new pilot program to accelerate tech transfer

The Tennessee Technology Advancement Consortium targets three of the state's six locally governed public universities.

Launch Tennessee (LaunchTN) announced Friday a new collaboration to create the Tennessee Technology Advancement Consortium (TTAC), a group focused on the commercialization of university-based innovations across the Volunteer State.

The consortium — the first of its kind in Tennessee — is a pilot project that will initially work to provide commercialization and technology transfer support to three of the six locally governed public institutions of higher education that used to be part of the Tennessee Board of Regents before they were granted independence under the “FOCUS Act of 2016.”

Modeled, in part, after the success of Kentucky Commercialization Ventures, which describes its role as bringing “guidance, opportunities, and programs to higher education institutions across the state without dedicated tech transfer resources,” the initial pilot project in the Volunteer State involves the three locally governed institutions — The University of Memphis, Tennessee State University, and Tennessee Tech University — working with the University of Tennessee Research Foundation, Vanderbilt University’s Center for Technology Transfer & Commercialization, and Jennifer Skjellum, a Commercialization Counselor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC).

Over the past three years, she has helped accelerate commercialization activities at UTC which, like the three pilot participants, does not have dedicated tech transfer staff, and Skjellum will bring that experience to the table. She will also provide support to three additional Commercialization Counselors who will be embedded within the three participating locally governed institutions.

LaunchTN will commit significant resources to the TTAC, including $80,000 to support Commercialization Counselor activities at each participating institution, along with funding for legal and service fees required for intellectual property evaluation and protection.

The hope is to broaden TTAC after the pilot year to encompass all Tennessee universities, overcoming cost barriers that might hinder the establishment of technology transfer offices.



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