Tech Transfer: Supporting the Outsourcing of Commercial Research and Development
Big public tool companies' role in this emerging ecology is to perform the “D” portion of the equation, picking technologies that they think are ready for commercialization and optimizing them for large-scale production and sale.
Largely, academia is struggling to systematize its part of the de facto process, investing in tech transfer offices, and the financial, human and digital resources to nuture early-stage technologies to the point of transfer, while guarding against conflicts of interest, and not straying from the traditional mission of education.
The standard-bearers in the high tech arena are Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Still, in the life sciences, tech-transfer efforts are just starting to approach critical mass, according to a number of articles recently published.
The Portland Business Journal today published online a five-part article by staffer Aliza Earnshaw that takes a very Oregon-based look at tech transfer among the state's academic institutions.
Across the country, the Nashville City Paper profiles tech transfer at Vanderbilt University, reporting that the university received $5.1 million in revenue for its interests in commercialized technology in the fiscal year ending in June and expects to see growth rates of 30 percent annually.
Perhaps one of the most successful tech transfer offices, if not the most successful, is that of the University of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), which, according to the Wikipedia, contributes some $30 million a year to the university. Warfarin (Coumadin) is named for WARF.
A recent article in Wisbusiness.com covers the presentations made by Mark Bugher, who runs the University Research Park in Madison, Wis.; Paul Peercy, dean of the UW-Madison Engineering School; and Tim Keane, head of the Marquette University Golden Angels Network investment group. The three were pitching trustees of the Wisconsin Investment Board last week for additional investment in science and technology in the state. The board is among the top 25 public or private pension funds with some $70 billion in investment capital and a venture capital funding of some $135 million.
In its latest edition, BusinessWeek examines both China and India. For the purposes of this blog entry, see the article, “The Seeds of Next Silicon Valley.” The piece focuses on information technology startups in India and reports that American VC s only invested some $240 million in Indian companies last year out of a total of $20.4 billion invested.