A new technology commercialization accelerator has been formed near the University of Cincinnati (UC) campus to create startup companies—ultimately leading to job creation—and position promising early-stage research by UC faculty for commercialization.
UC and the Midwest EB5 Regional Center, with a project office at 2612 Vine St. (Short Vine), entered into a partnership Friday, Feb. 24, 2012, through the signing of a memorandum of understanding to establish the UC Technology Commercialization Accelerator.
Midwest EB5 has committed $500,000 toward the accelerator’s creation and the university has committed $250,000 toward the project. University funds will come from returns from the Southern Ohio Creates Companies pre-seed fund.
The Midwest EB5 Regional Center is the area’s home to a federal program (EB5) aimed at creating jobs and stimulating activity through foreign investment, in turn, offering investors the opportunity to become permanent residents.
Dorothy Air, PhD, UC associate vice president for entrepreneurial affairs and technology commercialization, says the accelerator will serve as a strategic vehicle for transitioning basic research outcomes into commercial opportunities capable of attracting external resources and investments.
"Our primary goal is to get technologies out of the university that have been funded through public resources and transition them into technologies that can benefit society,” says Air.
The typical path toward the development of technologies starts with the formation of an idea, but that idea is often far away from being commercialized into a product. The accelerator will focus on identifying market opportunities, developing a commercialization strategy and facilitating the work needed to prove the concept.
The accelerator will take full advantage of existing community resources and connect each project with relevant resources needed to advance the commercial potential of the technology. This strategy will expand the capabilities of the accelerator and increase the chances for success of each project.
The accelerator’s leaders will identify promising UC technologies through a competitive application process, assessing their potential for startups and licensing opportunities. Gap funding or pre-seed awards will be provided by the accelerator to the most promising ideas so that investigators can conduct the work needed to attract outside funding for their next stage of development and, ultimately, market entry.
Air expects to hire four part-time employees—two entrepreneurs-in-residence and two data analysts—who will offer support to UC faculty selected for the accelerator.
Terry Chan, who leads the Midwest EB5 Regional Center and is in involved in efforts to revitalize Short Vine, says adding UC to the list of tenants setting up shop on Short Vine adds to a concept of clustering innovation and creating ways for companies to pool resources, have success and recycle funds back into the Short Vine district.
This "cluster” concept has already attracted several tech companies and a restaurant incubator—a partnership with Cincinnati chef Jean-Robert de Cavel.
"We think about the Short Vine Innovation District as the intersection of great ideas and great people,” says Chan. "Anything that adds to the entrepreneurial ecosystem is a welcome addition to the project, with UC serving as an anchor given its tremendous presence in the Uptown.”
Air, who holds a position with CincyTech USA as a loaned executive from UC and has worked to create a productive partnership between the university and that venture development organization, says partnering with the Midwest EB5 shows UC’s commitment to finding creative ways to commercialize technologies for the benefit of the public.
"Universities across the country face limited resources and must forge partnerships with organizations committed to similar goals,” she says. "We’ve seen the benefit of this strategy with our partnership with CincyTech and believe a partnership with EB5 will be equally productive.”
For more information, contact Air directly at email@example.com.
UC is classified as a "very high" research university by the Carnegie Commission and is among the top 25 public research universities for federal research expenditures according to National Science Foundation rankings. In 2011, UC and its affiliates brought in more than $418 million in research funding. Industry partnerships are an important component of UC’s research mission and in 2011, UC attracted $18.9 million from industry collaborators—a 24 percent increase from 2010.