The AUTM 2012 Leadership Forum took place Nov. 13-14 in Napa, CA. The event provided a great opportunity to connect and discuss taking a leadership role in accelerating commercialization.
Our keynote speaker, Richard Bendis, Founder and CEO of Innovation America, gave the opening keynote address: The Global Innovation Imperative. Bendis discussed the evolving role of universities in driving the innovation ecosystem around them. He discussed the importance of universities in regional innovation clusters and how critical it is for them to be active participants in private/public partnerships that are leading the growth of innovation-based economic developing in their regions.
In addition to internally focused topics like structuring successful collaborations with industry and how to bridge the valley of death, we also talked about outward facing issues such as what metrics to use to show the most meaningful impact of tech transfer. We also debated the hot public policy issues for 2013 and worked collaboratively to set AUTM's advocacy agenda for next year.
The exciting thing about the leadership forum was the participation level. This wasn't just a meeting where attendees were the audience—our attendees were the participants who were there to brainstorm ideas. Here are some of the important takeaways from the meeting's discussions:
Public policy challenges need our attention – including AIA issues such as prior user rights and the grace period, and, of course, the Startup Act 2.0
- We’ve gotten what we have asked for…people finally realize what we do is important and that science, technology, and TT/C is the key to economic growth—including jobs
- We’re going to have to learn to play nicely with others, including those whose agenda, motives, and interests are adverse/misguided
- Technology transfer and commercialization are important; we need help, and lots of folks want to help/be involved
- There is a continuing need to educate students and faulty to be not just entrepreneurs, but innovators
- There is a need for innovation funding to help establish proof-of-commercial relevance
- There continues to be an overwhelming focus on the needs of our startups in this jobless economy
It was a highly productive and successful meeting and I look forward to continuing these conversations with many of our attendees at our upcoming Annual Meeting, Feb. 27- March 2 in San Antonio.
I'd also like to congratulate Jane Muir, University of Florida, for winning the Novel Initiatives Competition. Jane presented on eWITS: Empowering Women in Technology Startups. eWiTS is a pilot program launched by the University of Florida that seeks to increase the number of women in leadership roles in STEM industries, increase networking opportunities locally for women in STEM fields, encourage women to assume lead roles in STEM companies, and provide mentoring and educational platforms for women regarding leadership and entrepreneurship.
Other participants included:
- The WARF Accelerator Program, Jennifer Gottwald, WARF
- Technology Transfer Outreach Program, Mike Dixon, UNeMed Corporation
- Zero Risk Solutions to Insufficient Resources in the Midst of Unprecedented Global Opportunities, Joe Koepnick, Auxin Global Patent Fund
- Facilitating University – Industry Collaboration, Ronald Huss, Penn State University
- Venture Summit: Facilitating University-Industry collaboration, Mark Crowell, University of Virginia
- The Strength of Social Media & the Role It Plays in University Tech Transfer Offices, Michael Rusnak, University of Rochester
- Easy Access IP, Jim Henderson, New South Innovations
- Student Desktop Researchers, Johannes Drying, Andreas Scheibenpflug, SLU Holding AB Inc.
- Regional Economic Development Through Technology Commercialization, Paul Corson, Lorain County Community College
Thank you to everyone who participated to make the AUTM Leadership Forum a success.