University of Washington Center for Commercialization (C4C)
At this very moment, thousands of university researchers across the U.S. are working on extraordinary innovations that have the power to change the world. From treatments for deadly and debilitating diseases, to biofuel alternatives and water purification technology for the developing world, research breakthroughs hold more promise than ever for translating scientific discovery into products, services, therapies, diagnostics and cures that can help millions of people worldwide.
The challenge is bridging the gap between academic research outcomes and the commercial potential of those discoveries.
Bridging the gap
The challenge is bridging the gap between academic research outcomes and the commercial potential of those discoveries. How do we take these seeds of scientific discovery and innovation on our campuses and maximize their potential to become relevant products, therapies or services in the marketplace?
Early engagement with researchers is key to curating more commercially relevant innovation. It’s vital to garner opportunities for industry and patient needs to inform the direction of research design by learning the range of challenges researchers are considering over the next several years.
Strong relationships with business leaders are critical to learning what advances would engage industry. University commercialization offices must act as business development teams for their entrepreneurial researchers—supplying relevant industry information needed to move forward effectively and become part of an innovation pipeline with significance and the greatest potential for impact. Industry, legal and investor advisors are key to helping a start-up company ensure that its structure is appropriate for its business model and plan, and that the company has the best chance of being fundable and operational moving forward.
Half of U.S. economic growth since World War II is a consequence of technological innovation, much of which results from federally-funded scientific research conducted at our universities.
Making ideas a reality
UW’s Center for Commercialization (C4C)’s many integrated programs aim to accelerate the movement of lab discoveries to the marketplace. Our Entrepreneurs-in-Residence program invites veterans at founding innovation-based companies to join us in the effort to identify technologies with commercial promise. We award commercialization post-doctoral fellowships and grants to retain the best candidates to do the last-mile work and ensure that momentum is ongoing. And our Presidential Entrepreneurial Faculty Fellows foster a culture of seeing research-generated innovations reach customers and patients. Over two-year terms, they serve as mentors to colleagues and students, and inspire at campus entrepreneurial events with lessons from their success at making ideas reality.
Half of U.S. economic growth since World War II is a consequence of technological innovation, much of which results from federally-funded scientific research conducted at our universities. Fostering an entrepreneurial culture across these institutions is a critical component of bridging the gap between academic research and commercially relevant innovation – one that requires engagement with the region’s innovation ecosystem. This is why nearly every C4C program relies on the participation of entrepreneurs, executives, attorneys, venture capitalists, angel investors, industry and regulatory experts, and other key advisors.
By: Linden Rhoads,
The University of Washington Center For Commercialization
Linden Rhoads is the vice provost of the University of Washington Center for Commercialization (C4C). Formerly a veteran executive in Seattle’s high-tech community, she co-founded or served as an active director or interim CEO of several successful Seattle-based startups, including ChiliSoft, Singingfish.com, AdRelevance, GBI, and Nimble Technology.