Highly Motivated Students, Faculty Play Key Role in Successful University Spinoffs

With their vast knowledge about technology and access to expertise inside and outside the university, graduate and post doctoral students play an important role in helping spinoff successful companies. Moreover, universities should encourage students to explore entrepreneurship through spinoffs as a potential career option outside of academia. This recommendation is among three guidelines outlined in a recent report that examines the important roles of students and faculty in the university technology transfer process.

Report Proposes New Statewide Commercialization Effort for Ohio

A new report from the Ohio Board of Regents proposes a statewide commercialization ecosystem to create jobs, promote economic growth and increase wealth in the state. According to the report, recent research suggesting that, when compared to other states, Ohio lags behind in the commercialization of technology. In The Condition of Higher Education in Ohio: Advancing Ohio's Innovation Economy, there are several recommendations to improve the state's technology transfer pipeline to turn academic research into market-ready products and services including:

Legislative Wrap-Up: Lawmakers Dedicate Funds for TBED in CO, CT, VA

Unlike last year when a wave of new governors pushed sweeping proposals to re-organize economic development activities and grow the economy, the 2012 legislative sessions brought mostly modest changes for tech-based initiatives. While many programs were level funded or received smaller increases than in previous years, a handful of states increased funds or introduced new initiatives to support economic development efforts. Colorado lawmakers provided additional funds to attract new companies, Connecticut lawmakers expanded programs from last year's Jobs Bill, and in Virginia lawmakers accepted the governor's amendments to add funds for research and commercialization initiatives.

Michigan State Launches Spartan Innovation to Support University Startups

Michigan State University (MSU) launched Spartan Innovations, a newly formed subsidiary of the MSU Foundation, to help its faculty and students form spin-off companies based on technology developed at the university. To achieve this goal, it will provide five key resources to increase the MSU startups including:

Senators Introduce Startup Act 2.0 to Accelerate New Business Development, Expansion

Sens. Moran (R-KS), Warner (D-VA), Rubio (R-FL), and Coons (D-DE) introduced legislation on Tuesday that would continue to spur the economy through the creation of new businesses. Senate Bill 3217, also known as Startup Act 2.0, expands on the initial Startup Act introduced by Sens. Moran and Warner in December, and builds on the success of the JOBS Act passed with bipartisan support in both houses and signed by President Obama earlier this year.

Virginia Gov's Amendments Would Restore Funding for Research, Life Sciences

While touting broad support from lawmakers for his 2012 legislative agenda during the regular session, Gov. Bob McDonnell also expressed concern about several economic development and education initiatives left out of the 2012-14 biennial budget passed by lawmakers during a special session that ended last month. Just in time for the deadline, Gov. McDonnell submitted $43.9 million in budget amendments, which include restoring funds for research, life sciences and teacher recruitment.

Canada's 2012 Budget Focuses on Industry-Led R&D

With a new approach to supporting innovation by pursing business-led initiatives focused on better meeting private sector needs, Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty presented Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2012, providing $1.1 billion CAD ($1.1 billion USD) over five years for direct R&D support. The budget also includes $500 million CAD ($502 million USD) to increase private sector investments in early stage risk capital and support the creation of large-scale venture capital funds led by the private sector.

START Program to Accelerate SBIR Funded Projects in Massachusetts

A new program launched in Massachusetts will help companies commercialize technologies developed under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program by picking up where Phase II of the program leaves off, providing financial support, coaching and introductions to potential investors. The Massachusetts Technology Development Corporation will initiate the program with $6 million over the next three years. The START program is aimed at helping companies transition from SBIR Phase II contracts, which fund technology development, to the commercialization stage, during which time companies typically rely on private sector funding. MTDC says a lack of private funding is impairing more technologies from coming to market and the START program will fill this gap by paying for patents, building prototypes, performing market research, and writing fundable business plans. The program consists of three stages over three years beginning with stage I grants of $100,000 each for 10 applicants who have won SBIR Phase II contracts. Based on the progress demonstrated over the first year, an additional stage II grant of up to $200,000 will be awarded to five of the most promising companies. At the end of the second year, two companies will be chosen for a $500,000 investment based on growth potential. The process will be renewed annually. More information about the START program is available at:

New Federal, University Agreements Established to Encourage Industry-Sponsored Research

Innovative companies involved in commercializing research with universities and federal agencies often cite complicated contracts and uncertainty surrounding the process as a barrier to bringing more technologies to the marketplace. In an effort to remove some of those hurdles, two new initiatives recently were announced from the University of Minnesota (UM) and the Department of Energy (DOE).

Cleveland Clinic Innovations Receives Unexpected $10M Donation

West Virginia coal-mining and farming businessman James C. Justice II confirmed a $10 million donation to Cleveland Clinic Innovations this week, according to an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The gift will be used to establish a chair in medical innovation, to fund patent applications and to provide space and seed funding to early stage businesses. Inspired by the move, Cleveland Clinic Innovations Chairman Thomas Graham announced that he will contribute an additional $1 million for patent applications.


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