Sizing up Battelle R&D for Commercial Potential
Until recently, Spencer Pugh struggled to find unbiased assessments of his company’s technology for commercial potential. Pugh, vice president of Industrial and International Markets for Battelle, now receives that kind of insight regularly from Fisher through a unique, two-year agreement, in which Fisher’s Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Institute provides Battelle with expert insight into the market potential of key technologies.

“It’s nice to have a partner that you can really trust to give you the unvarnished truth,” says Pugh, noting that such a perspective is rare given the stake most people have in a technology’s success.

“Ohio State has a wonderful relationship with Battelle,” adds Michael Camp, academic director for the Center for Entrepreneurship. “One area we share in common is our prolific inventors and innovators of new technology.”

Adjacent to Ohio State, Battelle is the world’s largest R&D organization, conducting $5.6 billion in global R&D annually (it also manages or co-manages seven national laboratories). Ohio State produces some 200 inventions annually and is among the top two universities in the country for corporate-sponsored R&D. In the last decade, the two entities have $80 million worth of R&D projects in common between them.

Before formalizing the partnership, Fisher and Battelle engaged in a six-month pilot during which time Fisher evaluated more than 50 inventions.

“Fisher assessed very early stage inventions—the technology covered the gamut of what Battelle works on—from biofeedstocks and organic chemistry to millimeter wave technology,” says Pugh, who most valued Fisher’s speedy decision making. “I’d rather us be 75 percent right and be able to act quickly than for us to be slow and dot every i.”

Camp says students played an integral role in developing the protocol and evaluating technology. Moreover, Fisher’s market-based information can inform Battelle’s inventing process at later stages “so the (final product) is more market ready.”

He’s hopeful that Ohio State can leverage the Battelle project to enhance its own commercialization efforts. As a whole, universities struggle to bring their innovations to market: fewer than 10 percent of the top universities account for almost 80 percent of all U.S.-based licensing and commercialization activity, says Camp. “That means the other 90 percent of universities is getting very little leverage out of their inventions and the inventing capacity of their faculty.”

“Ohio State has a wonderful relationship with Battelle. One area we share in common is our prolific inventors and innovators of new technology.”

Michael Camp

Academic Director for the Center for Entrepreneurship

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