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President Kaler to discuss tech transfer innovations in Washington, D.C.

University of Minnesota president one of select few invited to participate in U.S. Department of Commerce panel

September 27, 2012

In recognition of the University of Minnesota’s leadership in the field, President Eric Kaler will speak to a gathering of university presidents Monday, Oct. 1, at the U.S. Department of Commerce on the topic of  “University Technology Transfer and Industry Collaboration.”

Kaler will be part of a larger showcase forum, “The Innovative and Entrepreneurial University: Higher Education, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Focus.” The two-part forum is divided into a morning session at the U.S. Department of Commerce and an afternoon session at the White House.

“The University of Minnesota is an important driving force in advancing the state’s science, technology and innovation agenda and in fueling Minnesota’s economy,” said Kaler. “The transformation of our Office for Technology Commercialization has fostered research opportunities and industry collaboration that fulfill our 21st century land-grant mission.”

Kaler added: “We are proud that our faculty inventions and discoveries have advanced to the marketplace and for the public good. We are honored that our tech transfer operation is being recognized as a national leader.”

Joining Kaler on the panel will be the presidents of Clemson and Northeastern universities and Indian River (Fla.) Community College, along with moderator Dr. Patrick Gallagher, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Under the leadership of Vice President for Research Tim Mulcahy, the university embarked on a transformation of its tech transfer function in 2006. The Offices of Business Relations and Technology Commercialization were created and innovative approaches adopted, including:

  • Internal Business Units, an incubation model that serves as a precursor to startup companies;
  • Innovation Investments, funds provided to U researchers to help bridge the gap between sponsored research funding and the point where a technology can be commercialized;
  • Minnesota Innovation Partnerships (MN-IP), which eliminates the need for protracted negotiations over rights to intellectual property that may result from industry-funded research and fosters stronger relationships with business partners;
  • And startup workshops, to provide answers to key questions about the creation of new companies and help promote innovation and entrepreneurship among faculty, postdocs and graduate students.

Discoveries by U of M researchers were used to launch a record 12 startup companies in fiscal 2012, up from the previous record of nine in fiscal 2011. Illustrating the depth of university research, startups were formed based on discoveries at seven different colleges or centers.

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