The Intersection of Academia (or Government) and Industry

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On the tail of Chris Frew’s (@BiotechMD) recent post, Making the Move from Academia to Industry, about the intersection of academia (or government0 and industry seemed appropriate. And nowhere is that intersection more obvious than in a university’s (or government lab’s) Office of Technology Transfer. It used to be that those ivory towers up on hills were homes to pure scientific research or “pure learning,” but according to Montserrat Capdevila, director of sales, marketing and international relations at the Johns Hopkins Office of Technology Transfer (@JHUTechTransfer), the environment is changing. Faculty more and more want to intersect with industry.

“They want to know how to patent, how to start up companies, how to connect more with companies,” Capdevila said. She sees the change as a good thing, and part of her job is to help navigate those relationships. You can read more about the changing tides and Capdevila’s work here.

And it seems that universities aren’t the only ones seeing this change. If recent moves by BioHealth Innovation (@BioHealthInnov) are any indicator, government research organizations also are more interested in getting their science out of the labs and into people’s hands. So much so that BHI recently partnered with the National Institutes of Health (@NIHforHealth) to create an Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) position at NIH. BHI and NIH have lofty goals for their first-ever EIR, Todd Chappell. Chappell is charged with assisting NIH in evaluating existing technologies, helping evaluate new licensing proposals from an entrepreneurial perspective, advising NIH on opportunities for new ventures, assisting with development strategies, and mentoring scientists to help ensure their research becomes commercially valuable. Read more about Chappell and his position here.

The federal government also recently launched a new website that is rumored to make it much faster and easier for business partners to search for federal laboratory inventions. (You’ll have to check it out and let us know if that’s true.)

The idea of more interaction between universities and federal labs and industry sounds promising. The question is: Is there any meat behind it? Is this just rhetoric, or is there a real commitment to making improvements in these relationships? Only time will tell. But what do you think? Is there the possibility that these new conversations will help make the “Valley of Death” less daunting?

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