Summer@Highland 2012 Entrepreneurship Program for Student Entrepreneurs

I am no expert, but i think Highland Capital is a well known firm. Well, the partners there seem to agree with me that something is happening on campus with student entrepreneurs.  Check out their Summer@Highland program,

Summer@HIGHLAND is a 5-year old entrepreneurship program designed to provide university-affiliated startups with the environment and resources for taking their initiative/company to the next level. The program is “founder friendly”: Highland receives no equity stake in exchange for a team’s participation, and teams are under no obligation to Highland after the summer. Our only priority is helping entrepreneurs and their teams significantly advance their startup over the summer.

Selected teams will receive $15K, free office space in Highland’s Cambridge or Menlo Park office, and the opportunity to work closely with the Highland team and an incredible network of founders. Teams will also have access to the Summer@HIGHLAND Speaker Series, which has included founders, CEOs and experts from technology leaders.

You have about 68 days to get your applications in. (Early deadline is March 1, 2012, and regular deadline is April 5, 2012).

It is interesting to note that they are not looking for business plans, but for applicants that have taken some action, on a scalable path, and are entering large markets. This is about high impact student firms, not basic t-shirt shops (so yes, they would have rejected Marc Ecko!).

via Summer@Highland 2011 Entrepreneurship Program.

UT TTO Official Resigns Due to Ties to University Startups

Trouble on the technology transfer front from the University of Texas. I will have to learn more, but here is the one line pitch — uber successful California biotech researcher Richard Miller is lured to Texas to lead the way as the first commercialization chief, but quickly runs into conflict of interest issues for being too entrepreneurial! From Kirk Ladendorf at the Austin Statesman.

Miller, a veteran biotechnology researcher and entrepreneur in California, went to work for UT in September 2010 to help turn more of the school’s research discoveries into new jobs, companies and licensing income. As part of his job, he oversaw the work of the Office of Technology Commercialization, which assists companies that are interested in using patented UT technology and negotiates licensing deals with them.

Miller resigned effective Dec. 31 after he was told by UT officials that he could not have a personal and financial involvement in companies that might want to license technology developed at UT.

UT generated $25.6 million in licensing revenue in the most recent fiscal year and completed 29 new licensing and options agreements, according to the commercialization office’s website. The school also received 58 U.S. and foreign patents last year.

Juan Sanchez, UT’s vice president of research, said there was no active conflict of interest with Miller’s involvement with the companies because they had not yet licensed technology from UT. However, Miller “was setting up a scenario in which he would be negotiating with himself, and that would have been a conflict of interest, which we would not allow,” Sanchez said.

“We couldn’t move forward with his expectation of having a dual role” with the companies, Sanchez said. “It was clear that he would have to divest his interest. The resignation was his call. I would have liked him to remain as chief commercialization officer, but he chose not to.”

Sanchez said he instructed Miller in December to divest his interests in three startup companies that he had co-founded with UT faculty members and graduate students. Miller did divest his holdings in the three companies — Wibole, Graphea Inc. and Ultimor — but resigned sometime after that discussion, Sanchez said.

Get the most out of university technology transfer is a common cry, its no wonder we are running into scenarios such as this.

Over the past decade, UT has stepped up its efforts to generate more revenue from technology licensing. Part of the reason is faculty pressure and recruitment of top-level researchers. Both new recruits and existing research faculty have pressed the school’s administration to take a more proactive role in tech commercialization.

Pike Powers, an Austin lawyer and veteran economic development activist, said Miller brought new ideas to UT but might not have understood the constraints of working for a public university.

“He was offering some new ideas and thoughts about ways that the University of Texas could be more competitive,” Powers said. “I don’t think he received as strong a reception as he wanted to receive, so it was frustrating for him. He met with numerous members of the business community, and we advised him to be very careful about what steps he took next and to make sure he had the full support of the business community and the UT administration. But I don’t think he ever heard that message to the extent that he should have.”

What I find interesting is that people are looking for entrepreneurial leaders, but they also demand consensus. That is a little backwards no?

via UT official resigns after questions raised about ties to startups.

Research Funding Debate in UK: Curiosity or Commerce? | Guardian

Some interest debate surrounding the funding and mission of government funded research is taking place in the wake of Minister for State Universities and Science David Willetts speech on making the UK the global science research leader. Professor Stephen Curry provides great coverage of the debate in the Guardian:

Willetts’ musings on role of government in directing science were more interesting, and included some practical ideas for how ministers might effectively access scientific expertise in order to guide research investment. He was careful to emphasise the sanctity of the Haldane Principle and peer review, which enshrine the rights of the scientific community to judge grant applications on scientific merit. Nevertheless, the minister did not shy away from the conundrum that he has a democratic responsibility to shape policy that is beneficial to the UK economy. Such strategic choices will necessarily colour views on research priorities.

The scientific community should be heartened to hear a government minister speak so confidently of the potential of science to feed into economic growth. It was an argument that the community relied on in the run-up to the Comprehensive Spending Review in October 2010. But scientists remain wary of government interference in what some see as their exclusive domain. Coincidentally, evidence of that wariness was provided in letters from leading scientists to Times Higher Education and the Daily Telegraph in the days following the speech, which criticised what they perceived as excessive interference by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), in the process of awarding public money for science. The signatories to the letters were particularly critical of strategic decisions by EPSRC to focus on particular research areas, to judge the potential long-term impact of the proposed research in assessing applications and demanded rebalancing of decision-making power away from EPSRC officials and back to scientists.

via What should drive science funding: curiosity or commerce? | Higher Education Network | Guardian Professional.

Top 5 of 2011 Shaping University Technology Transfer

I am in the midst of a deep dive into technology transfer on campus and came across Technology Transfer 2.0 (from Triple Helix Innovation). Here is Melba Kurman‘s list of top 5 events from 2011 that will shape university technology transfer:

But my sense was that this year’s big events will make their true impact felt over the longer term.

With no further ado, here’s the short list.

American Invents Act

Stanford vs. Roche

Drug companies begin to invest in Chinese R&D labs

More proof that entrepreneurship is not a level playing field

Who took New York? Cornell vs. Stanford

Later, she goes into detail on each of the top five. From the Who Took New York:

Not everyone bought it, though.  Some cynics wondered whether Mayor Bloomberg, a top-notch politician, was pulling a Tom Sawyer, tricking others into paying him for the opportunity to do his job of painting the fence (or in this case, cleaning up waste on Roosevelt Island and building a new campus).  According to this perspective, Bloomberg brilliantly played the egos of two the big universities against one another.  Their prize?  The privilege of spending billions of dollars to clean up and develop a piece of his city.  But thankfully for the tech campus, nobody listened to the cynics.

In October, final proposals for the tech campus competition were submitted.  And the intrigue intensified.  Stanford abruptly dropped out of the race.  Some claimed that Stanford got scared at Cornell’s enthusiasm and “quit before it could lose.”  A more diplomatic proffered reason was that Stanford was not used to the east coast style of negotiating deals.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education,  apparently Stanford walked away from final negotiations because of two major terms it disagreed with.  First, the city demanded that Stanford accept full liability for any problems from whatever toxic waste may lurk on the campus building site.  And second, the city also demanded that Stanford stay with the project, even if the city failed to provide its originally promised $100-million contribution.

In contrast, in its proposal, Cornell enthusiastically agreed to do whatever it took.  Luckily, a Cornell alum donated $350 million to the project (wasn’t me) only hours after Stanford’s withdrawal since somebody’s gotta pay for all the building and faculty salaries and site cleanup and stuff.

Looking forward to reading the Tech Transfer 2.0 blog into the new year.

via Top five events of 2011 that will shape university technology transfer « Triple Helix Innovation.

U of Cincinnati Looks To Engineers and Entrepreneurship for Opportunity Creation and Economic Growth

Just read an interesting piece about University of Cincinnati’s efforts  to offer more entrepreneurial opportunities to students and faculty in its engineering programs. (h/t tto2newco).

Apparently Dean Carlo Montemagno of the College of Engineering and Applies sciences is an educational innovator at UC. From the Enterchange:

He soon will launch an Entrepreneurial Innovation Center, too. In recent interviews, Montemagno revealed to the Enquirer the first details of a university initiative to create high-tech, high-paying jobs and drive economic development in this region.

Likely to open at the Edgecliff campus in Walnut Hills, the innovation center will give his college’s 140 professors and 4,300 students access to workshops, mentors, lab space and an engineering accelerator program to help build and launch businesses.

A new entrepreneurial sabbatical allows professors a year away from teaching in order to start their companies.

Eventually, all three efforts will be open to faculty and students in other UC colleges.

“The idea is to remove the wall between discovery at universities and implementation in the economy,” Montemagno says. “It ensures the relevancy of the research to fit the needs of the economy.”

From a recent university press release on the entrepreneurial initiatives:

University of Cincinnati officials today signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) designed to increase the level of technology commercialization in Southwest Ohio.
Signing the MOU between UC and the Hamilton County Development Corporation were Santa Jeremy Ono, UC provost and senior vice president; Carlo Montemagno, dean of UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Science; and  David Main, president of the Hamilton County Development Co., Inc. (HCDC) and Hamilton County Business Center, Inc.

The non-binding MOU intends to foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship within the university’s College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) by promoting the creation of technical businesses based on the research achievements of faculty, students and staff. This enterprise is expected to encourage the creation, development and growth of innovative ventures by leveraging the combined strength of UC’s technology expertise and HCBC’s entrepreneurial assistance services.

I have been looking and I see no mention of the Carl H. Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati in any of the materials discussing these recent initiatives.


Interesting Patent Infographic | Stanford Included

I received a marketing email from sharing an infographic they put together on patents. The Problem with Patents infographic is based on an NPR story so it clearly has a point of view. The involvement of major research universities and technology leaders such as Stanford, Texas, and University of Pennsylvania is what has piqued my interest. From Jason at Frugal Dad:

patents infographic


University Shake-Out To Benefit All? Entrepreneurship Education

Luke Johnson wonders if university degrees are good for entrepreneurs and speculates that creative destruction in higher education is coming and is a good thing. From the Financial Times

The best experience during my three years at Oxford was starting a business, which had nothing to do with my physiology degree. I suspect a lot of students spend most of their time not absorbing knowledge, but drinking, having sex, sleeping late, demonstrating and so forth. This is what actually happens on campuses. Is that fun and idleness really worth all the time and money? Especially when students now graduate with a mountain of debt, while facing far fewer job vacancies.

I’ve delivered speeches at perhaps a dozen universities around Britain in the past few months, and everywhere undergraduates are considering start-ups as an alternative to the classic posh careers such as law, management consultancy and banking. This youthful spirit of enterprise is marvellous news, but I doubt the textbooks and tutorials help them in their ventures. Why spend years waiting? The best training for business is simply going out there and doing it.

Academia needs to reform. Universities should offer better value, with more practical courses. Holidays are too long and permanent tenure for professors a terrible system. Colleges should wean themselves from state subsidy and engage with capitalism more. The taxpayers ought to get better returns from all the research they fund, with more commercial spin-offs.

via University shake-out will benefit us all –

Widener University Joins Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network | #STEM |

We recently learned about the PRIME entrepreneurship program at Brown University through some twitter action. Today we learned about the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network upon Widener’s accession to to the program.

Widener University has been accepted to the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network (KEEN), a collaboration of 21 select, private universities around the United States that strive to instill an entrepreneurial mindset in undergraduate engineering and technology students. The KEEN mission, like the School of Engineering at Widener, is to graduate engineers who will contribute to business success; and in doing so, create jobs that lead to a higher standard of living for the American workforce. Widener’s participation in KEEN is a collaborative effort of the Schools of Engineering and Business Administration.

The network was created in 2005 by the Kern Family Foundation, which provides funding for KEEN member schools to develop educational initiatives to instill an action-oriented entrepreneurial mindset in engineering graduates. A focus on entrepreneurial leadership as well as technical skills is increasingly important as the U.S. competes to maintain its economic position in a global marketplace based on innovation.

Widener University received a start-up grant of $75,000 over two years from KEEN, which will be used to focus on initiatives including updating current curriculum, hosting best practices workshops by KEEN for faculty, and starting a speaker series.

via Ms. B: The Good News: Widener University Joins Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network.

Students and Professors Try Open Innovation | Nature Publishing Group

Crisitina Jimenez has an interesting piece on ‘open innovation’ – where problems are shared publicly and rewards offered for suitable solutions. Jimenez’s piece highlights how students and faculty are using ‘open innovation’ challenges to find funding, work on interesting problems, and make meaning.

InnoCentive, an organization based in Waltham, Massachusetts, that uses the Internet to link ‘seekers’ — client companies struggling with pressing scientific or business problems — with ‘solvers’ — more than 250,000 problem-cracking minds around the globe, InnoCentive claims. The company is one of several, most of which are based in the United States, that are engaged in ‘open innovation’. The motivating principle behind open innovation is that companies and other institutions should take full advantage of widely distributed knowledge in a wired world, finding products, patents and solutions — scientific, technological or social — outside the confines of their own organizations.

Later Jimenez explains,

Scientists who moonlight as solvers can use novel means to explore long-standing problems. Chris Wilmer, a PhD student in chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, solved a challenge that involved the lack of access to clean water in poor villages of developing countries. He found inspiration in the success of a mobile-phone business run by the Grameen Bank in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The bank would lend phones to a local entrepreneur in a poor village, who would pay back the loan by charging others in the village to use a phone. It was a profitable and self-sustaining model. Wilmer described how a similarly structured safe-water business could yield humanitarian benefits. “I enjoy solving social problems, so it was fun,” says Wilmer, who has also won a second challenge involving programming a software tool to help characterize synthetic DNA strands.

For some, pursuing open innovation is a way to achieve career independence and flexibility. Grace Kepler, part-time associate research professor at the Center for Research in Scientific Computation at North Carolina State University (NCSU) in Raleigh, sees the challenges as well suited to scientists who, like her, are not employed full-time and have family responsibilities — as well as those who need more money or are unencumbered by intellectual-property issues.

While some entrepreneurs have developed open and crowd sourced businesses (Redhat to Kickstarter) we should expect to see more open innovation and crowd sourcing on campus (beyond technological innovation) and this presents opportunities for entrepreneurs.

We are trying an open source accelerator at George Mason. Check out StartUp Mason.

via Funding: Researching outside the box : Nature : Nature Publishing Group.

OSU President Calls for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Public Universities

E. Gordon Gee, President of Ohio State University has an interesting piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education calling for more innovative and entrepreneurial leadership at public universities. While I don’t know if this is dramatically new (See Kerr, Bok, Etzkowitz), it appears that years of slow growth and weak state finances have forced Gee to rethink what he and his university do. Some snippets from the Chronicle of Higher Education:

This nation and our world are not merely in a recession; we are also experiencing a resetting of the global economy. All signs point to a new normal in which those of us engaged in higher education must accept that no amount of pleading or whining or denying will alter what now seems an inexorable reality. We will earn what support we get by virtue of our excellence—and our hustle, our ingenuity, and our creativity.


As a starting point, this means the following: finding innovative ways to leverage the market, assessing university-owned assets and considering shedding those that do not contribute to our central mission, commercializing technological innovations, and simplifying processes.


Along those same lines, this past spring and summer we began using a new approach to commercializing our technology innovations. Ohio State’s tech-commercialization effort is just beginning, but we believe it holds great promise—for bringing innovations by faculty members to market, for rewarding them for their work, and for helping to sustain the university in the process. Doing so is not turning the university into a business, it is enabling us to support our core academic values despite volatility in the world around us.

The core question, which all entrepreneurs ask, is what kind of value can a public university and does this provide value to its stakeholders. It is not just about raising revenues and cutting cost.

Looking forward to learning more about Gee and the work he is doing at OSU. Anyone in Columbus want to weight in?

via Colleges Must Find Innovative Ways to Finance Their Missions – Commentary – The Chronicle of Higher Education.