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Posts Tagged ‘Innovation Transfer Network’

ITN Introduces Faculty Collaboration for Test Measurement and Research

Posted October 16th, 2013 by admin

Collaboration for Test, Measurement and Research

ITN is introducing a collaboration to share Test, Measurement and Research interests among our membership schools. This service is designed to facilitate networking and encourage faculty members to collaborate with one another in a colleague-to-colleague environment.

How does it work?

If you want to engage please complete the request form that is part of this blog post. There are 5 questions to be completed by the requester and then emailed to Spike Moyer (rsm17@psu.edu). ITN will apply a network of faculty in 15 schools to relay your request to locate a colleague who wants to work with you.

At each member school, our ITN Advisory Board Member will communicate your request to the appropriate Department Chair. They will share your request with a faculty who is most likely to share your interests. Participation is voluntary and faculty are not required to respond to the request. If they have a common interest and wish to participate, then they will send you an email invitation that acknowledges your request. The rest is up to you to work out collaboration arrangements, colleague-to-colleague.

We are just rolling this out and expect to find some glitches in the system. ITN will work closely with the participants to identify and address these.

ITN Collaboration for Test, Measurement and Research Form

How does it work?

If you want to collaborate…..for test, measurement or research

Complete this short request form and email it to rsm17@psu.edu

1. How do you want to collaborate?: Example..I am interested in xyz and wanted to chat with someone who is working on similar material…or I would like to talk to someone about testing my sample of abc using edf type of equipment. …or I would like to assemble a joint grant proposal that includes several schools.

2. Your Name:

3. Your Email:

4. School/Dept:

5. Dept. Chair Name:

Instructions: Provide requested information

Save the form with your information

Email your saved form to: rsm17@psu.edu

What happens next?

ITN will acknowledge receipt of your request and send it to our ITN Board Members.

They will provide it to the department chair on their campus that is most likely to share your interest. Dept. Chairs will forward this to their faculty and interested faculty may respond to your request.

You should receive an email from an interested faculty.

Terms and conditions of all collaborations are determined by the collaborators.

New Crew on Board

Posted August 23rd, 2012 by admin

We’ve got a new pair of team members on board to help make the connections between faculty, students and the business community looking to commercialize. Finding the right talent to be able to understand the variety of technologies and services that faculty and students are developing - especially across multiple institutions - can be pretty daunting. In our six years of experience, this role is particularly tough because of the need for a varied technical background and at the same time, an engaging personality - plus a strong dose of attention to project management. We’re fortunate to have found a good match with Ralph Moyer, our new faculty liaison in South Central Pa. Ralph, or as you’ll learn when you meet him, “Spike,” brings a project management skill set from his days at Bell Labs to the task. His work as a liaison between high tech companies looking for specific technology from the lab translates directly to his daily work at ITN. Our other addition to the team is Mike Zigner. Mike will be focused mainly in the Berks County and surrounding areas as he leverages his many contacts in business and academia from his days in Continuing Education at Penn State Berks. His role will combine both faculty relations and business connections in Berks which is a great match for Mike’s background. Their official bios will be up shortly along with an embarrassing grade school picture when we find it. If you need to reach any of us, you can always email the team at itnwk@psu.edu.

Organizations Collaborate in Berks County to Assist Healthworks, Inc.

Posted September 14th, 2011 by admin

Helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses is the goal of both the Ben Franklin Technology Partners (BFTP) and Innovation Transfer Network (ITN).  When Connie Faylor, Regional Manager for BFTP of Northeastern PA, began consulting with Healthworks, Inc. - an established business preparing to launch a new innovative service - she suggested an independent market feasibility study.  When the costs for this diagnostic procedure exceeded the firm’s current budget, a potential remedy was to connect the company to a college professor willing to undertake the project as a class project.

Faylor described the conditions to ITN Business Development Officer Jennifer Leinbach, who concurred and recommended a highly qualified Kutztown University practitioner who recently tackled a similar challenging case with excellent results.  An office appointment was set with Kutztown University Business Professor Dr. Therese Maskulka and two star graduate students to review the proposed project’s complexity and scope with Healthwork’s President/CEO Sandra Wolfe-Korejwo and Marketing Officer Keith Chamberlain.  The team felt an immediate attraction and is eager to begin work.

Additionally, Leinbach connected Healthworks to leadership at Reading Area Community College to discuss the development of new training programs to address workforce development issues. 

Guest Post by Jennifer Leinbach, ITN Business Development Officer

Investors Tap into Faculty Expertise

Posted August 8th, 2011 by admin

ITN hosted its first session to introduce a select group of investors to faculty members working on interesting engineering projects ripe for commercialization. The networking event was not meant as a funding pitch, it was meant to put smart people in a room together and see what magic happens.

This was a great first cut at connecting area angel investors with the expertise that resides on local campuses. The idea behind it being that investors can learn to tap into this expertise for things like due dillegence with potential portfolio companies, and that valuable real-world exchanges can take place. In this session, faculty from network members Messiah College and Elizabethtown College presented new developments in small scale biofuels (view video), assistive technology (view video), and dielectric spectrometry (view video). Several follow-up meetings between camps have already taken place.

A few hints on making this mix work are 1) Invite investors who are open to developing relationships and engaging expertise over the long haul. Ones who get the long-term community benefits, not just a pure investment mindset. 2) Pick faculty open to a presentation review and critique. It will be edited and shortened. 3) If possible, have faculty bring along company execs who are using the product, or working closely in the development. They add a different perspective to the presentation, especially during Q&A. 4) Make it casual and offer easy networking at the end - which probably means food and beverages.

We’re scheduling the next meeting for the end of September, this time focused on IT and software development. It’s a work in progress, but we’re excited to see where it leads.

Helping Companies Build a Revenue Pipeline

Posted May 3rd, 2011 by admin

How can the concept of “innovation” be boiled down to elements that impact company revenue? ITN recently brought in manufacturing company CEO, Richard Dennis, of Die-Tech to share his strategy at the CREDC Manufacturers’ Roundtable

Dennis shared several points, but one that generated a bunch of follow-on questions was his policy that employees are evaluated and financially rewarded by how many ideas they bring to the table each month that get implemented, outside of their core area - meaning thinking outside the box. This innovative thinking could be product or systems related, didn’t matter, although Dennis pointed out that “product innovation alone is the least profitable and easiest to duplicate.”  Reducing the turnaround time in a large stamping process is worth thousands, if not millions of dollars, and requires his employees to think differently. After implementing his “ideas” expectation, Dennis’ data points to a significant increase in annualized gross margin per employee.

Dennis has similar expectations for his partners. About a year ago, he tasked our organization with pulling together a meaningful group of faculty who could discuss the current trends in health care, as it related to potential market opportunities in metal stamping. (I blogged about this in a May 2010 post.) During the roundtable, Dennis shared the results of this endeavour: The information discussed during the faculty session enabled Die-Tech to close $100,000 of revenue in the medical segment in 2010, and helped expand his pipeline to $1,000,000 in 2011.

Dennis has worked hard to develop a strong culture of innovative thinking at his metal stamping business and is constantly on the hunt for people and partners who can improve its top line growth. By linking with organizations like ITN that connect CEO’s with local, bright, minds on the college campuses,  business leaders can potentially speed market expansion and better understand how to translate innovation into customer solutions.

5 Points for Start-Ups from Boston CEO’s & Investors

Posted March 25th, 2011 by admin

In the fast-paced world of tech start-ups, one thing hasn’t changed. It’s all about people. That was the clear message communicated by company founders like Paul English, co-founder of travel site, Kayak, at the Momentum Summit on the campus of MIT this week. During his interview by venture capitalist and Harvard Entrepreneur In Residence, Jeffrey Bussgang, English made the point that he is aggressive (his word) about hiring and firing. He commits to each new hire that every seat around them “will be filled with electric people.”  Anyone who doesn’t measure up gets a pink slip. So what’s at the top of his desired skills list? Bandwidth, attitude, no dysfunctional behavior, broad experience, and no neutrals (meaning every management team member has to be excited about the candidate). If English gets a “rock star” referral, his goal is to bring them in and close the deal within seven days of the referral. People are his secret sauce to generating more revenue per each of his 130 employees. With a run rate of $200 million since their launch in 2004, this has proven to be a prime differentiator for English and his management team.

Once a small team is up an running, Ric Fulop (@ricfulop), co-founder of A123 Systems (an MIT spin out) and General Partner at North Bridge Ventures says “every developer has to be a product manager.” His point was that small teams have to be “aggressive (there’s that word again…) about locking down the first vertical…focus on the least amount of stuff possible and outsource everything!” According to Fulop, “If your first product doesn’t look like a feature, you’re doing something wrong.”

When small start-up teams meet with large partners to discuss a deal, Fulop shared a key point for CEO’s to remember, “These companies are so big, they’re like small countries. They don’t know technology, they’re politicians at the top.” Point being that a highly technology conversation will immediately be lost on the group, however, one centered on benefits and value-add will resonate.

Turning from technology to marketing, Brian Halligan, an MIT Sloan School alum/EIR, as well as co-founder of Internet marketing company, HubSpot, took the stage. He’s your typical high-energy marketing guy, fully caffeinated and passionate about content. He carried his coffee cup around as he paced the stage making his point that “success is equal to the width of your brain, not the width of your wallet.” Eighty-five of his 200 employees blog demonstrating his belief that today’s marketers are publishers. In his world, it’s all about creating a hub on the Internet of valuable content. He understands that not every blog will be a home run, but if 1/10 goes viral, it’s worth it. “Viral co-efficient” was a favorite term from his session representing the growth curve of viral content as it relates to followers, links and ultimately dollars back to the company.

Another favorite term of the day, pivot, was explained by Lee Hower, of NextView Ventures, as the nice way of saying, “near death company experience.”  As an early PayPal employee and founding member of LinkedIn who now invests in seed stage Internet companies, he’ s seen his share of pivot points. Hower interviewed the CEO of Swipely, Angus Davis, who sold his former company, TellMe, to Microsoft for a reported $800 million. Their discussion centered around the three reasons why today is a great time to open a business versus the bubble days of 1999: 1. Open source software makes it dramatically easier to develop at a reduced cost. 2. The ability to “rent” infrastructure (think: Cloud services through Amazon). 3. Access to distribution channels.

During lunch we each selected a relevant table discussion topic. There were several good ones, but in the end I chose to hear from Matt Douglas, CEO of Punchbowl. We bantered about the Top 10 business development issues.

The full session was hosted by the likable tech journalist, Scott Kirsner, writer of the Boston Globe’s Innovation Economy, whom I had the chance to meet at SXSW last year and follow on Twitter (@scottkirsner) for industry trends and interesting company innovation.

Engineers Connect & Compare Notes on Concrete, Circuits, and a Collaboratory

Posted January 18th, 2011 by admin

Recently a group of engineering faculty (and three graduate engineering students) connected at Messiah College in the first ITN Engineering Forum. These gatherings offer faculty among the ITN schools to meet informally, connect professionally, and gain understanding about the variety of innovation underway across the region. We have seen relationships arise from these, and other ITN events, resulting in research collaborations and joint efforts in pursuit of public and private sector projects. This event was also supported by the NSF-PFI (Partnerships for Innovation) grant. Below is a brief re-cap of the discussion, which is planned as a quarterly meeting.

The group was welcomed by Dr. Randy Fish, Engineering Department Chair and Professor of Engineering, who also spoke briefly on Messiah’s Collaboratory for Strategic Partnerships and Applied Research.

The first presentation was by Dr. Nathaniel E Hager, III; Research Scientist in the Physics & Engineering Dept. of Elizabethtown College. Dr. Hager uses ultrafast pulse Time-Domain-Reflectometry (TDR) to assess the cure of concrete and cementitious materials.

Dr. Aldo Morales, Co-Director of the Center for Signal Integrity at Penn State Harrisburg, spoke on the Center’s activities. “Signal integrity is the engineering field that analyzes high-speed electrical interconnects with the overall goal of improving the design, reliability, and performance of digital systems.” Karthik Balasubramanian, a graduate student in electrical engineering also presented on signal integrity and high speed interconnects.

Mike Zummo, Biodiesel Project Manager and 2006 mechanical engineering graduate at Messiah College reflected on the years that Messiah has been involved in biodiesel, both here and overseas. A small scale production biodiesel facility has been constructed and in September 2008 the U.S. Department of Energy awarded the Collaboratory a USDOE grant for nearly $500,000 for research and refining of the production process.

Dr. Harold Underwood, Associate Professor of Engineering, specializes in circuits, electromagnetics, linear systems, antennas and wireless communication systems, and RF/microwave applications. He has been working in partnership with The SymBionyx Foundation on an assistive technology for Asperger Syndrome clients, known as Wireless Enabled Remote Co-presenceTM (WERC).

Posted by Malcolm Furman, Faculty Liaison at ITN

What You Need to Start a Virtual Commercialization Hub

Posted November 23rd, 2010 by admin

During last week’s national call hosted by Technology Transfer Tactics, we were given the opportunity to share details on ITN’s business model. It’s a unique structure as a virtual commercialization office for a dozen small colleges and universities, and over our five-year lifespan we’ve learned many lessons. While our growth is still a work-in-progress, I’ll share three major points for groups looking to harness academic talent that is spread across multiple institutions.

Identify Key Economic Development Players- find the economic development and funding organizations in your region who see the long term value of connecting faculty and business and get their commitment. You need people willing to go to bat for the organization. ITN could not have launched without the support of economic development groups from Lancaster and Harrisburg, as well as the  PA Department of Community and Economic Development, Penn State Harrisburg, and Ben Franklin Technology Partners/CNP. These early leaders “got it” and were willing to put their money-where-their-mouth-is, by putting in sponsorship dollars, funding staff, giving us space and equipment, and providing access and support from their own staff. These leaders give you the credibility you need in the early days, before you have any real deliverables to showcase.

Fund Seed Grants - We put into play a bucket of money specifically set aside to fund small projects between faculty and business. Up to $20,000 has been available for faculty to apply for and use to accelerate a product or service. Over time we’ve learned that a committed business needs to be involved (not just a signature on a page), bringing cash match or a similar equivalent, and the deliverable has to demonstrate progress toward commercialization. Research for research sake does not help us meet our organizational objectives and plenty of other funding sources, with deeper pockets, support such activities. These seed grants are a great way to bring entrepreneurial faculty out of the woodwork and begin collaborations, particularly in the beginning.

Find Your Niche(s)- The sooner you can identify which pockets of talent and industry segments your faculty are engaged in, the quicker you can gain momentum and begin productive collaboration. Our industry/faculty groups happen to be things like biofuels, simulation and gaming, and engineering, however, they could be anything. There’s real value in connecting faculty across campuses who are doing similar work. This allows you to be a resource for companies in the region (or ones considering your region), and it pools together resources to attract grant funding. Ideas feed off ideas and connecting faculty and students from across campuses increases the innovation factor significantly.  It also gives you multiple options when trying to connect with a business partner. With student work loads, faculty class commitments, and outside projects, you need options to make a timely fit when a company project comes into play. Not all faculty are available at the moment you need them.

These puzzle pieces lead to all kinds of exciting options, including lively faculty forums, industry forums, new product launches, and bigger grants. We attracted over $800,000 in funding for a regional biofuels center, available to all the faculty and companies in our network, largely thanks to these three elements. Of course, this raises other challenges, not the least of which is staffing and sustainability. The more your organization can demonstrate an ability (or real potential) to attract regional talent, keep talent, accelerate company growth, and assist economic development, the more likely state-wide funding will occur.

Why Colleges and the Business Community Need Each Other to Survive

Posted November 5th, 2010 by admin

A three legged stool is how our guest speaker at the recent Seconds vs Semesters event referenced the relationship between the business community and its surrounding colleges and universities. A college campus brings only one of the three elements needed for commercialization success, according to Mr. Jerry McGuire, Associate Vice-Chancellor of Economic Development at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The other two elements are found outside the campus. Enter the business community.

New ideas, fresh technology and research are in rich supply across the academic community, particularly when you consider the entire student, staff and faculty population. What those ideas need in order to move up the food chain are management and funding. Ideas provide the framework for a potential new business or product. The business community can insert the right team and the necessary funding to navigate the path from the back of a napkin to the shop floor or retail shelf.

McGuire argues that once the university has developed the idea and demonstrated a market, “there is this valley of death in which the other two elements don’t exist at the university and is out there in the community…in all university scenerios having an organization or method to connect with funding (whether grants, banks, or angel investment) and management is very critical to any idea that needs to move foward in the commercial sense.”

A recent New York Times article confirms McGuires notion that universities need to engage with the business community and investors. According to the article, the highly touted Sand Hill venture firm, Andreessen Horowitz (the guys who founded Netscape) sends their staff to college campuses to identify promising engineers for portfolio companies. This is further confirmation that a productive economic development balance relies on the trio of ideas, management, and funding or, said another way, business, academia, and investors.

Watch a brief video interview with Jerry McGuire.

Meet the Media Lounge Guests

Posted October 12th, 2010 by admin

Adding to the excitement of the upcoming Seconds vs Semesters featured speaker, Mr. Jerry McGuire, is our line up of CEO’s, entrepreneurs and faculty who will be participating in the media lounge interviews on October 25, 2010.

It’s a high caliber networking opportunity - a chance to meet faculty who are involved in interesting company projects, students with an eye on innovation, and CEO’s who support community engagement with local college and university talent to move business forward.  

Take a peek at the business leaders joining ITN in the media lounge and get registered today!

Mr. Richard Dennis - President of Die-Tech Inc. in York Haven, Pa. Mr. Dennis is responsible for the vision, culture, and alignment of the company.

Mr. Larry Dittman- President of Elabyrinth Solutions, and serial entrepreneur. Mr. Dittman is involved in the development of a new organization focused on assisting and mentoring second stage entrepreneurs.

Ms Cathy von Birgelen- Director, eMarketing Learning Center. Ms von Birgelen has been tapped to lead this new program which celebrates its launch during the ITN event. The Center is part of the Ben Franklin Venture Investment Forum network of services.

Dr. Sairam Rudrabhatia- Penn State Harrisburg, Department of Environmental Engineering. Dr. Sairam, as he is known, is connected with the venture investment community, has licensed his technology to mulitple corporate partners, holds several patents, and has attracted significant grant dollars to his biodiesel and molecular pharming initiatives.

Mr. Kyle Ashe - International Business Major with a concentration in Marketing and a Minor in Spanish. Mr. Ashe is actively involved in the Student Senate, the Peer Review Board under the Dean, and has studied abroad in Ecuador. He is a Senior at Elizabethtown College.