Tuesday August 14, 2012 0 comments
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is the first in a series of INterviews of people who are playing a significant role in encouraging and furthering new technology and innovation in Colorado.
Q: In May, CSU Ventures and Innovation Center of the Rockies announced a collaboration to help commercialize research at CSU. ICR already had similar agreements in place with CU-Boulder and the School of Mines and this month added the University of Denver. What benefits do you see in all these schools being connected through the ICR and having ICR as a commercialization partner?
A: ICR leverages a huge network of experts to assist us in evaluating product and business opportunities for CSU technologies. Bringing additional schools into the partnership will increase the opportunities for individuals already within the network as well as providing an opportunity, in our case, to recruit more individuals in the Fort Collins area and CSU alumni into the network. The stronger the network, the better for everyone involved - both people in the network and the university technology transfer offices.
Q: I understand all marketable CSU research now goes through CSU Ventures for commercialization. When did this take effect and why is it set up this way?
A: CSU Ventures has been in existence for approximately five years and was somewhat functioning separately but in conjunction with the CSU Research Foundation's Technology Transfer Office. The two organizations were in some ways sister organizations and worked very closely together behind the scenes. By bringing all the technology transfer activities together into CSU Ventures (under the CSU Research Foundation) we have eliminated some real brand confusion internally and externally related to what single organization leads technology transfer efforts for CSU.
Q: How does CSU currently fare when it comes to patents issued as compared to its sister research institutions? Do you have numbers?
A: Issued patents are one metric although it probably does not tell much of the overall story. If you look at the primary technology transfer results for CSU in the five-year period since CSU Ventures' creation (2007-2011) vs. the preceding five-year period (2002-2006), every metric has nearly doubled or significantly more than doubled. In fact, that growth places us at or above the 90 percentile nationally in most categories for universities with $100M or more in research expenditures. More information is available on our website, www.csuventures.org.
Q: How would you characterize CSU Ventures' relationship with investors and what enticements does CSU offer them in terms of matching funds, etc.?
A: We maintain significant relationships with many investors ranging from angel investors to venture capitalists locally, throughout Colorado and nationally. I would place industry partners into that category as well. CSU Ventures and CSU do have some limited funds via a State of Colorado program (BDEGP) and internal programs to provide matching funds for projects that fit specific commercialization criteria. CSU and CSU Ventures work hard to make the university a good fit for additional investment in research.
Q: What are the biggest challenges for CSU Ventures in accomplishing its mission of helping speed CSU research into the marketplace and how are they being addressed?
A: The biggest challenge fundamentally for any organization assisting in commercialization of university research is finding a way over the gap from very early stage research into commercial products and services. Only a small set of discoveries, ultimately, make their way from a university research laboratory into the marketplace for a whole host of reasons including technical, business and regulatory hurdles. Finding a way to address these issues with funding, industry engagement, business experts and so forth is the challenge. It is also what makes the work so rewarding upon success.