Archive for innovation

Universities, Technology Transfer – Keys to Innovation – Yes We Can

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on April 3, 2009 by lmdiorio

A colleague of mine forwarded to me Sramana Mitra’s posting on entitled: Key to Innovation: Universities.  I couldn’t agree more!  My company partners with over 75 different Universities and Research Institutions nationally and internationally in the field of technology transfer.  We work with them on the commercialization strategies of the research and IP that come from their laboratories and classrooms.  This post is great way to sum up the value of innovation that comes from University research: entrepreneurship, industry creation, job creation and profits.  What needs to be done is better put in the posting here:

“First, the U.S. still can, and needs to, lead the innovation charge. Second, within the U.S., the technology transfer from university to industry via entrepreneurship needs to become much more widespread, spanning not just the elite schools but infiltrating the entire U.S. higher education system. Third, the U.S. needs to teach the rest of the world how to develop a strong innovation infrastructure that leads to commercialization, entrepreneurship, industry creation, job creation and all the other well-known benefits of a thriving economy.”

I only take one issue with one piece of information in the post – Ms. Mitra focuses on MIT, Stanford, Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon as her examples of success stories (and 12 others).  In regards to innovation and commercialization – I’m afraid that people focus on those with the most popular names.  There are way more than 12 others.  Working with over 75 different Universities gives me insight into the true value of innovation and technology transfer.  Just because another University doesn’t start-up a Google or do 10 start-ups a year, doesn’t mean that it isn’t as successful as the bigger players.  Sometimes there is much more value in deal flow and cash flow where a technology transfer office (TTO) is not only able to sustain itself (keeping people employed) while offering additional revenue opportunities to the inventor and Universities and transfering the technology to the marketplace for development.  I digress for a moment because this post is still incredibly relevant and important but I do think people should stop and take a look at their alma maters and see what technologies have been commercialized from the research there – I think you would be surprised to see some blockbusters in places a bit unknown.

Nonetheless – University innovations are important in faciltating economic and scientific development for civilzation – especially now.  Support is needed to continue the innovation pipeline – whether it is the next Google, a new way to harness renewable energy, a new therapeutic for cancer or as simple as an educational tool for students to learn Chemistry – we can only benefit.  It should be a priority and better put by Ms. Mitra:

“The world that emerges from the ashes of this financial crisis needs to put innovation as a central priority. And in doing so, beefing up the government-industry-academia collaboration is critical.”

Even YouTube has a section on Innovation – and notice the Universities!

And with Easter coming up – a little Jelly Belly for you —

Promoting Innovation is now even more Important

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 5, 2009 by lmdiorio

At the end of February the Licensing Executive Society (LES) submitted a letter to the Obama administration promoting and supporting innovation as an economic engine.  The letter can be seen here.

I am a huge supporter of the efforts made by LES, AUTM and others in the promotion of innovation.  As stated in the letter, support for where there is innovation is truly “a sound system” for protecting the economy and as a result  “economies are robust and the quality of life is high.”  An important aspect of innovation is the protection of Intellectual Property (IP), however it is not the only element.   Innovation is mandated and empowered by the Constitution, granting rights to the inventors in order to experience exclusivity and in exchange society benefits both through quality life improvements and economics.  My field, technology transfer, focuses not solely on IP rights but mainly on commercialization supporting these 2 elements.

Need I remind you that we are in tough economic times right now, yet there are important initiatives that need to be maintained in order to support and promote innovation.  It is required that the systematic laws ensure that technology is brought from the “lab bench” to the marketplace.  LES calls for 3 main IP related initiatives that I too encourage: (1) provide gap funding for critical technology development, (2) preserve IP policies that promote both innovation and competition, and (3) support greater access to public and privately developed technology.

Road Block to the Ventur(e)a Highway – unblock it with Deal Flow and Cash Flow.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on January 7, 2009 by lmdiorio

Happy New Year.  There is a really interesting article in the most recent edition of Forbes entitled, Venture Capital’s Comping Collapse. It is definitely a great snapshot of some of the performance measures in the Venture Capital world over the last few years and their dramatic decline.  In some aspects of the world of technology licensing, VC’s are often looked at with awe because they invest and help create start-ups and have been associated with the likes of Google, Skype and many others.  Even the movie Wedding Crashers pays homage the VC’s, John Beckwith: We’re brothers from New Hampshire. We’re venture capitalists.  Jeremy Grey: I’m sick of that. Let’s be from Vermont. And let’s have an emerging maple syrup conglomerate.” andClaire Cleary: So is it just about the money? John Beckwith: No no, it’s about, uh, investing in companies that are ethically and morally defensible. Sack Lodge: Well, like what? Give me an example. John Beckwith: Like what? Well, there’s the company that we have where we’re taking the, the fur or the wool from sheep and we turn it into thread for homeless people to sew. And then they make it into cloth, which they in turn sew, then um… make little shirts and pants for other homeless people to sell. It’s a pretty good deal.”

There has been a dramatic push in the technology licensing and economic development arenas to take new and innovative technologies and spin out companies.  Everyone seems to be looking for the next Google.  But in a world where people like myself are trying to market very, very early stage technologies is it the right idea?  Do not get me wrong – if you can do it – do it.  I’ve watched a few start-up companies initiated and I’ve seen them be successful.  They can be great in terms of job creation and wealth – both great things.  But – during these difficult times financially shouldn’t DEAL FLOW and CASH FLOW matter the most?  I understand mandates for economic development initiatives but there is also a mandate to try and commercialize these new and innovative technologies for the greater good – to promote innovation and possibly save lives.  In doing so things like reimbursing expenses, upfront fees, royalty and milestone payments may add up to more than what others can provide.  Not only may it have the potential to be greater but it helps in funding and maintaining the organizations supporting the commercialization.

So take a look at the article and judge for yourself.  I love what I do and I love the people that I get to work with on a daily basis.  All I want to see is copious amounts of University and Research Institution technologies commercialized and continue the goals that Bayh Dole set out to support.   Whether it is a start-up company, the next Skype or a plan ‘ole license deal – let’s promote innovation.

Love or Intellectual Property

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2008 by lmdiorio

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a huge proponent of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs). I was recently listening to Larry Lessig speak at TED regarding creative freedom and the shortcomings of pre-digital intellectual property laws. I do agree with Larry in the sense that IPRs do not properly address the innovative aspects of the digital age and how that affects copyright law and fair use laws. But when do we draw the line – I would argue that if you using your IPRs correctly – you are using them to foster continued innovation. Now, as the owner of a patent or copyright you are entitled to what is referred to as an exclusive license to that IP. If utilized correctly it can entitle that owner to some compensation for its use. However, there is the argument that we have created a culture where people utilize these rights for money rather than for the love of the inventive and creative process.

I do agree with Lessig that something needs to be done to create an environment where we encourage the inventive and creative process for innovation, for expression of ideas and for creativity. Something should be done so that there is a clear definition of how copyrights can be used for amateur uses vs. commercial uses. Thus, enabling inventive, innovative and creative processes in addition to protecting the copyright owner’s rights to fair compensation for commercial uses. The question remains, How?