Aug. 23, 2012 – The Technology Commercialization Office (TCO) at the University of Utah (the U) is looking for “venture philanthropists” to donate to the new Gateway Crimson Innovation Fund, the university’s first fund to drive technology commercialization. TCO wants to raise $2 million in the next year to contribute to the U’s reputation as a leader at startup formation, drive economic development for the state and help improve the world through better technology.
“I don’t think corporations or individuals could find a more direct way to have a positive influence on people’s lives and the state of Utah,” said Bryan Ritchie, director of the TCO. “Our new Gateway Crimson Innovation Fund gives donors a new, innovative and simple way to put their money where it will have the greatest impact on economic development.”
The money donated will be used to help develop new technologies, such as medical devices, pharmaceuticals, software and energy technologies. Money is needed to patent technologies, fund further research and development, create prototypes, hire management teams, and create marketing materials, among other needs. The innovations come from the many faculty members and researchers at the U, and they often require rigorous management and planning to become viable commercial products. Donations will be used to improve the U’s already impressive record in accelerating technologies through the commercialization process. The U has been ranked as the No. 1 institution in the nation for creating startup companies for two years running, according to the Association of University Technology Managers.
“Donations to this fund help create new companies, jobs and wealth” Ritchie said. “We believe Utah can be a hub for commercialization.”
The technology commercialization process starts when a researcher discloses an invention to the TCO. The TCO then begins a sophisticated process that includes assessing the commercial potential of the invention, conducting patentability studies, market research, product development and early stage fundraising. The ultimate goal is to identify inventions that have commercial potential and to establish a realistic commercialization path that may include licensing the invention to a startup or established company that will develop and sell the product. Companies that license technologies pay royalties, which go back to the inventors and departments involved and help fund additional discoveries and commercial development. If the company is sold, some of the proceeds go to colleges and departments at the university.