April 27, 2007 — Some students search for employment for months after graduation, but for students involved in the University of Utah’s Lassonde New Venture Development Center (NVDC), it seems that employment is searching for them.
Lane Christensen is graduating with a doctorate in pharmaceutics and pharmaceutical chemistry. He has been involved with the NVDC for the past year developing a business plan for a preclinical medical device research facility in the Salt Lake area, and has recently accepted a position with the Global Pharmaceutical Services group at Johnson and Johnson. Christensen credits the NVDC for the edge it gave him in the career world.
“I see the bigger picture of science-related research,” says Christensen. “Finishing my doctorate, I have had job offers from several reputable companies. Although there were other candidates competing for the position at Johnson and Johnson, it was my experience at the Lassonde Center that won me the job.”
The NVDC brings together business, engineering and science students at the U, providing a unique educational experience working on the commercialization of University-developed technologies.
After selecting high-value technologies, the student associates perform core market research, develop business strategies, prepare business plans and make commercialization recommendations to the investor and the University.
The goal of the NVDC is to validate the existence of a true market opportunity and provide the inventor and the University with a fully developed market analysis and a guidebook to commercializing the technology.
Since its inception in 2001, students in the NVDC have assisted the commercialization of numerous technologies and 15 start-up businesses, including Wasatch MicroFluidics, Carbolyon Biosciences, Glycosan Biosciences and ResCue Medical Systems, Inc.
Each year graduates involved with the NVDC have entered into successful careers because of the skills they offer. Their knowledge goes beyond textbooks as they gain experience starting companies.
Troy D’Ambrosio, director of the Pierre Lassonde Entrepreneur Center which houses the NVDC says, “Our students are marketable. Around commencement I expect phone calls from highly regarded companies looking for new hires. They come to us because they know our students have the combined knowledge, skills and experience they need at their companies.”
The NVDC students aren’t entering the workforce in entry-level positions, but rather as directors and executives. Tom Zarembinski was involved with the NVDC for two years. He graduated from the U’s Professional MBA program in May, 2006. “The experience helped me to transition from research to the business sector. I learned how to research and write business plans to commercialize University technologies and learned how to pitch the plans to investors.”
Zarembinski is now the director of business development of Glycosan Biosystems, a company he helped start as a student. “If MBA students are serious about technology commercialization and entrepreneurship, the Lassonde Center experience should be a crucial part of their education,” he says.Members of the Class of 2007 leaving the NVDC have received offers to join such companies as Johnson and Johnson, Glycosan Biosystems and Bard Access Systems. They leave the NVDC telling the same story of gratitude for the experiences and opportunities the center has given them.