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Ohio State creates new Technology Commercialization Center

Published: 2010-06-02

Effort to ensure more life-enhancing research moves to marketplace

Ohio State University is strengthening its efforts to realize the full potential of faculty research to improve lives and spur economic development through the creation of a comprehensive new commercialization center.

The new approach, housed within Fisher College of Business, is a unique model among universities. This represents a new collaboration between faculty inventors and business, emphasizing partnerships with the Colleges of Engineering, Food Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Health Sciences, Business, Law, and the Office of Research -- a unique model among universities. 

“Universities are generating the ideas and discoveries that will drive the new economy of the 21st century. To fully realize Ohio State’s contributions to the state and the nation, we must assure that the innovative work of our faculty – in health care, advanced materials and agriculture, among other areas – moves from research to results,” said Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee.

Ohio State is bringing together, in one unified organization, new-technology evaluation, license negotiation, company-formation mentorship and undergraduate and graduate education on entrepreneurship and commercialization.  In addition, a Proof of Concept Center will be established to ensure that resources are directed to those inventions showing the greatest potential for the commercial market.

Technology experts, based in the university’s colleges, will screen and prioritize promising technologies. New external councils, comprised primarily of industrial leaders, will work with the technology experts and deans to help guide decisions about commercial viability.

“This new center will result in improved probability of success for our high quality emerging technologies and an increase in the total licensing revenue and equity holdings in start-up companies,” said Fisher College Dean Christine Poon, who joined the university one year ago, following a 30-year career in the health care industry, most recently as vice chairman and member of the board of Johnson & Johnson and worldwide chair of the Pharmaceuticals Group.

The new commercialization strategy presents a significant opportunity to generate new revenue for the university, which is in the process of recruiting a chief commercialization officer to lead this effort.

Ohio State ranks in the top ten nationally with $716 million in research expenditures in 2009 and is second in industry-sponsored research. The university’s 2009 licensing revenue was $1.7 million.

“Our new approach to commercialization builds on the extraordinary research of our faculty,” said Vice President for Research Caroline Whitacre, who will co-chair with an industry leader the overarching governance board for the new center. “This approach very effectively combines our innovative faculty with industrial leaders to address pressing social needs and improve Ohio’s economy.”

Fisher’s Center for Entrepreneurship will be the hub for much of the new activity. Established in 2001, the Center for Entrepreneurship integrates state-of-the-art classroom education with hands-on experience in developing new start-up companies. World-class faculty lead an innovative interdisciplinary curriculum that creates opportunities for students to apply concepts and skills learned in the classroom to solve real-world problems.

In addition, Fisher College is well positioned among Ohio’s growing private equity and venture capital investment community with faculty serving on a number of investment screening committees.

“By leveraging the university’s great breadth and depth in health sciences, food and agriculture, material sciences, and engineering, we can establish one of the premier brands in entrepreneurship and technology commercialization and advance Ohio State’s impact as a critical driver of economic development in the region, nation and world,” Poon said.