Welcome. I have been working in the area of research innovation management since 1991, mostly with universities on the US west coast. I am taking the next two years to focus on developing programs and concepts that connect university research with community. The Kauffman Foundation has provided funding for me to do this, and Matt O’Donnell, the Dean of Engineering at the University of Washington has chipped in some additional funding. Hank Levy and Ed Lazowska have graciously provided me with office space in Computer Science & Engineering. What I write here is my own stuff and doesn’t represent any position of the University of Washington or the Kauffman Foundation or anyone else I mention. If there are mistakes or slights in these postings, let me know and I’ll do my best to correct or explain.
I call the effort the Research Technology Enterprise Initiative or RTEI. In 1999, Bob Miller and a few of us created a concept called the Technology Enterprise Institute. There’s still a press release about it up at http://uwnews.org/article.asp?articleID=1733
The idea was to build an independent but linked non-profit to handle complex transactions in IP management, including startups, foreign collaborations, and high value transactions. We wanted to create a simple transaction space between the university and the institute. This way, deals that would normally pressure the existing university review and contracting systems could move “offshore”, where the personnel, the risk, and the obligations could be shouldered by a private organization with specialized tools. Even something as simple as holding equity in a start up venture is fraught with challenges for a public university–everything from public disclosure law to how to handle royalty sharing (distribute shares? sell immediately? time the market?) to conflict of interest.
If you don’t have something like this, then either you force transactions into maladjusted university systems, where they break apart and become something else, or you ask for exceptions to policy that trigger reviews and concerns that delay and burden the transaction with more layers of complexity. Of course, once you have an organization outside the university, then there are problems in how it conducts its affairs–is it looking out for the university? and if so, which part? and how well?
The TEI got as far as articles of incorporation and by-laws, with approvals everywhere except from the top. So Bob Miller left for UC Santa Cruz, where he led the $330m 10 year research relationship with NASA Ames, and I followed the next year to start a new tech transfer and research admin organization for UC Santa Cruz. Now, years later, I’m back with a new, lighter version of the TEI relabeled RTEI just to keep things separate. Perhaps as things develop, the TEI concept will become important again, if not at UW then at other institutions.