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April 30, 2013 | Tom Ballard

Two Western universities modifying their tech transfer efforts

SSTI-tekno(EDITOR’S NOTE: The following item appeared in the most recent edition of SSTI’s weekly newsletter.)

Two universities, the University of New Mexico (Albuquerque, NM) and the University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ), are expanding or restructuring their economic development operations to improve commercialization of technology stemming from faculty research and the coordination and business development in their communities.

The University of New Mexico’s Science and Technology Corporation (STC) will assume economic development responsibilities for the university. The STC is a nonprofit organization that has managed the university’s technology commercialization since 1994. In its new role, the STC will coordinate all university-related economic development operations. The STC will function as the innovation door between the academic community and the general public, including businesses, national laboratories like the Sandia National Laboratory and the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and public entities.

The new scope of the STC is modeled on the Innovation Square in Gainesville, FL, which includes the Florida Innovation Hub, and will bring together university research and technology with private business. STC will interact with local businesses to determine the university support needed. STC also will serve as an incubator for the university to commercialize research. It also is hoped that the STC will help develop the high-tech economy of the Albuquerque region.

At the beginning of the month, the University of Arizona opened Tech Launch Arizona, a new office that will encompass the previously independent operations of the university’s offices of Technology Transfer, Corporate and Business Relations, and University Research Parks. Tech Launch Arizona also has released its five-year strategic plan, Roadmap, which will guide strategies for connecting and developing faculty innovations and technological developments with the general community.

Transferring the operations of the three offices under a new structure that reports directly to the university president will serve to coordinate university operations in economic development and technology transfer, as well as ease the transition of faculty research to market.

To help identify the impacts of Tech Launch Arizona, the Board of Regents has set a series of targets to be met by 2020: 210 invention disclosures, 20 patents issued, $3.65 million in revenue resulting from university intellectual property and 14 new companies. In addition, Tech Launch Arizona also will be making increased levels of venture capital available to faculty members to help move promising technology closer to commercialization.Together with a renewed university emphasis on commercialization and economic development, it is hoped a new interest will be created so that faculty will take their ideas and innovations to market and creating a new university-wide paradigm for technology transfer and economic development.

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