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May 03, 2015 | Tom Ballard

UTRF to host one-day “Opportunity Now” event

UT Opportunity NowBy Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.

The question posed on the webpage says it all: “Do you have a great invention idea, but just don’t know what to do next?”

If the answer is “yes,” chances are you will be interested in registering for “Opportunity Now,” a first-of-its-kind event scheduled for June 2 on the Knoxville campus of the University of Tennessee (UT). The workshop, set to run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Room 307 of the Science and Engineering Research Facility, is hosted by the UT Research Foundation (UTRF).

“The Tennessee Venture Challenge (TVC) was a big success for us last year, and we wanted to build on that success,” UTRF Vice President Stacey Patterson said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t feel we had enough teams to do the TVC again this Spring, so we developed this event. Hopefully, some of the faculty/teams who participate in ‘Opportunity Now’ will be ready for TVC in 2016.”

UTRF has teamed with Tech 2020 on the six-hour event that carries the tagline of “Idea to Market Analysis.” The sessions will cover the basics of moving ideas from the lab to the marketplace – the “what ifs” to the “that’s how.”

Speakers include UTRF staff and Kevin Kragenbrink and Shawn Carson of Tech 2020.

While the workshop is being organized by UT’s technology commercialization organization, it is not limited to UT faculty, staff and students.

“We are opening the event up to anyone,” Patterson said, adding all attendees need to register. As an enticement, UTRF is providing lunch to those who register and a number of door prizes.

“I’m hoping that faculty, staff, and students who think they have a good idea, will attend ‘Opportunity Now’ and learn how to think about the commercialization opportunities for taking that idea to market,” Patterson explained. “We also hope to meet new faculty, staff, and students who might want to work with UTRF, but may not know what we do, when they should contact us, or just where to start.”

She expects attendees to include those who have already disclosed an invention to UTRF as well as those who are not sure if they have a commercially viable concept.

After the session, attendees will be able to apply to participate in a free six-week guided program led by Tech 2020. Those eligible for the opportunity will be limited to individuals who have filed an invention disclosure with UTRF or do so as a result of participation in the June 2 event.

Finally, there’s the opportunity for the top ideas to compete for up to $20,000 in proof of concept funding.

“I hope lots of people interested in technology commercialization or tech-based start-ups attend,” Patterson said. “UTRF wants ‘Opportunity Now’ to become another important event in our growing entrepreneurial community.”

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