Over the past few decades, technology commercialization has become an important feature of the modern research university. In this 21st century academic model, universities not only create new knowledge and disseminate it, but they also take the ideas and research traditionally nurtured in academia and help transform them into successful products and services in the global marketplace. Thus, the modern university has come to take on the added role of active participation in the process of creating wealth, jobs and prosperity generated by its technological innovations. As this model has taken hold in the United States, other nations are increasingly investing in the commercialization of their university-generated technology and are thus beginning to place their educational institutions at the forefront of tomorrow's global economy.
Stevens Institute of Technology, the Innovation UniversityTM, with its rich, 140-year history of research, education and technology development has taken the lead in evolving a unique approach to university-based technology commercialization encapsulated within the Technogenesis® environment of academic entrepreneurship and enterprise development.
"Stevens has engaged its community of faculty, students, alumni, and administration in a process of academic entrepreneurship that has paved the way for the development of patented disruptive technologies as well as the launch of award winning start-up companies like PlasmaSol and Hydroglobe that are benefiting our society and the global market," explains Dr. George P. Korfiatis, Interim President and Provost of Stevens. "We are building the future today at Stevens Institute of Technology."
This culture of innovation is being adapted for universities around the world and Stevens expertise and dedication to technology transfer in engineering, science and management make Stevens a leader in the global academic community.
Collaboration with the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
Recently, faculty and executive administrators from Stevens collaborated with the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) to deliver a workshop in Malaysia on innovation and transforming academic research into startup companies.
"Present day Malaysia is a relatively new country with a long, rich cultural history, and it is aggressively seeking to expand its economy, create jobs, build prosperity and promote social advances," explains Dr. Lex McCusker, Associate Dean of the Wesley J. Howe School of Technology Management at Stevens.
"It is looking to all its research universities and especially to its national educational institution, UKM, to usher in the next-generation of research and development that will grow its economy and develop the technologies of the future."
Funded by the Malaysian Ministry of Education to help accelerate the commercialization of Malaysian university technology, Stevens offered its Workshop in Capacity Building in Innovation Technology Transfer and University Start-Ups in Malaysia in the summer of 2010. The workshop included customized lectures, case studies, hands-on exercises and personal coaching for 120 professors, researchers, university staff, business professionals, and government officials in Malaysia.
"The workshop is designed for university researchers, faculty, and administrators as well as government officials, entrepreneurs and investors with an interest in university-based technology commercialization," says Malcolm Kahn, Vice President of Enterprise Development and Licensing at Stevens.
"We provide an interactive experience with state-of-the-art collaboration tools such as ID8 Systems (http://www.id8systems.com), a revolutionary concept for tapping into organizational talent and ideas, and we mentored participants through the entire process from idea generation to a final presentation of the plan for a start-up company to investors and government and university officials."
The workshop was delivered in three phases.
1. one week of on-site seminars and exercises using 15 Malaysian technologies where participants were taught how to build businesses and create business plans,
2. a six-week interim session where Stevens personnel virtually mentored each of the groups while they performed market research and refined their business plans, and
3. on-site coaching where each of the 15 teams worked with the team of Stevens mentors over a three-day period in further developing their business plans.
The workshop used a practical, hands-on, experiential style of pedagogy that is commonly used at Stevens.
"We give the students plenty of instruction on the theory of technology-based innovation and entrepreneurship, but this workshop is primarily experiential," said Dr. Peter Koen, Associate Professor in the Howe School of Technology Management at Stevens.
"Faculty, students and administrator, participating in the workshop work on teams
that are built around a current university technology, and the inventor of the technology is an active member of the team. The teams participate in lectures, and then work with a Stevens coach to apply the lecture material directly to their technology. The teams apply the concepts immediately to their own very concrete example."
At the end of the workshop, the Malaysian teams made presentations to panels of venture capitalists, bankers, government officials another professional business people.
The Stevens team also provided an assessment and a ranking of the technologies, and they recommended next steps for each of the potential businesses. This will help UKM focus their funding and future research efforts.
UKM viewed the workshop as a unique and successful training program. They especially liked its hands-on pedagogy and practical approach that engaged participants, and they appreciated the extensiveness of the training. As a result, several additional programs, including the training of other Malaysian universities, technology assessments and an entrepreneurial mentoring program are now being developed.
In addition, several partnering opportunities are being explored for both UKM and Stevens' technologies. These include exchanges of research faculty and doctoral students, the establishment of entrepreneurs-in-residence at UKM, and the deployment of ID8 Systems in Malaysia. Stevens will also continue to develop its own program in Academic Entrepreneurship.
"Stevens is dedicated to facing the challenges of technology commercialization in an academic environment," explains Dr. Christos Christodoulatos, Associate Provost of Academic Entrepreneurship. "Our model of sustainable academic development unites research, education and entrepreneurship along with energizing faculty and assessing market application as the key to success."
In the coming year, Stevens will expand its undergraduate senior design program for all engineering majors to include an entrepreneurship experience. Stevens is also deploying a graduate course in Academic Entrepreneurship for all its doctoral students.
For more information on Academic Entrepreneurship at Stevens, please visit the Office of Academic Entrepreneurship.
To learn more about course offerings in Technology Based Innovation and Entrepreneurship visit the School of Technology Management website.