This Week in the News: Technology Transfer and Open Innovation

With so many different information sources flooding your devices – Google Alerts, Twitter, RSS feeds, mobile news apps, blog subscriptions, newsletters – trying to get your daily dose of news is overwhelming, like drinking through a fire hose. To help you out, I have scoured the net to curate what stood out the most to me this week in the world of technology transfer and open innovation. Enjoy.


David Schwartz of Technology Transfer eNews wrote an insightful piece Patience, creativity required to find top CEO talent for university start-ups


It is no question that university research departments develop innovation and useful technologies, but it is tough to find the right leadership to accelerate the commercialization of university research. I think this happens for more than just the universities similar to those outlined in this article, although this is certainly is a huge challenge. Another challenge we see is that the academic network lines are very distinct from industry, meaning people tend to go to their alma mater as opposed to being exposed to all the available technology that is out there. So how do you combat these challenges? Schwartz details different organizations whose specific aim is to source talent willing to take on this type of work. University TTOs can also combat this setback by profiling their technologies and spinouts on a platform designed to put them in front of industry partners… A platform like seedsprint, for example! (Ok, no more self promotion.)


Sirine Fadoul of DTEC Tech Startup Incubator wrote an oldie but a goodie for Entrepreneur this week: Pitch Perfect: Four Tips To Tell Your Startup Story Better


I am confident that you have read many variations of this post. The reason for this is because having a captivating and action oriented pitch can determine the outcome of your investor meetings. A personal favorite tidbit that Sirine shares here is to ‘narrate like a boss.’ When you are tirelessly building a product or solution, it is easy to get stuck in the weeds of your product details and forget to tell your investors what problem you are solving. One way to think of this: demo the product as though you are the consumer or end user. Get creative, tell your product story, and, like Sirine says, make your audience the hero. Happy pitching!


Elliot Harmon of reminded us this week to Tell Your University: Don’t Sell Patents to Trolls


It is easy to go off on tangents with this subject. Universities develop great research and to do that, they need funding. But they face many problems, such as those outlined in our first post. There are rumblings that many TTO’s lose money. And that, my readers, is a great way for innovation to decline. Students, professors, and anyone reading this should take action. In my humble opinion, university-led research is the future of innovation. It is important to seek partnership with industry and explore ways to advance and commercialize research before selling out to a technology troll. EFF has launched the Reclaim Invention campaign, which encourages universities to seek out some kind of third party involvement before selling patents. Excellent!


Jon Chesto of The Boston Globe informed us this week that $3.3m package coaxes Flextronics into opening city innovation center


This is great news all around. Boston residents, 25 new jobs are being created to staff Flextronics’ 17,000-square-foot facility. Local startups? Local universities? Established companies? Yes, yes, yes, this benefits you all as well. We all know Flextronics for their design and engineering and this means that they have leading manufacturing equipment, all of which will be available to folks in the Boston area (and beyond) to use. If you ask me, that is $3M well spent.


This week, Katharine Grayson from Business Journals broke the news that the University of Minnesota cranks out a record number of startups (again)


Here are the facts.

  • In 2015, University of Minnesota launched 16 startups
  • In 2016, that number grew to 17
  • In the past 10 years, they have launched 100 startups
  • 82% of those are still in business

These are inspiring figures to any researcher, hopeful entrepreneur, and TTO. How will you enable your startups and begin to break your own records?


Along this same vein, The University of California expressed similar sentiments and Brian Back explained The Rise of UC’s startup culture


Anyone who contributes to researchers and entrepreneurs, give yourself a pat on the back. The results of the UC research programs have amounted to not only thousands of new jobs, but also billions of dollars to the economy. While the figures will vary from state to state, the underlying message is that these research programs help more than just the end user of the commercial application – they help their communities in a positive economic way. Keep on keeping on.

Until next week, everyone!

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