Ohio Venture - OVA Review Newsletter
News from the Ohio Venture Association meeting on April 13, 2012

Keynote Address:

Stephen Behm
Director of Technology Management
University Hospitals

Joseph Jankowski
Associate VP, Technology Management
Case Western Reserve University

While Case Western Reserve University was a laggard in tech transfer in recent years, a more recent re-dedication to technology and medical spin-offs has led to a promising pipeline of deals, with even more likely in the future, officials from CWRU and University Hospitals told OVA members at their April lunch event.

In the 1990s, Case Vice President for Technology Management Joe Jankowski said, "we were not only bad at tech transfer, but we were intentionally bad," the result of a former university president who didn't believe in pursuing this avenue, he said. But around the turn of the century, he went on to say, campus officials and leaders in the larger regional community decided that had to change. And in the last few years, Case and its affiliate partners—one in particular—have gotten quite serious about technology transfer and spinning off commercially viable entities from the laboratory.

Today, CWRU has a fresh 50-year affiliation agreement (in effect until 2056) with University Hospitals, the $2-billion medical system whose service area stretches across most of Northern Ohio. The agreement allows the partners to act as a single point of contact for inventors, investors and others interested in possible commercialization deals. No longer must interested parties check that both institutions are on board, thus making for simpler, more seamless collaborations, UH's Stephen Behm said. CWRU also has affiliation agreements with MetroHealth and the Veterans Administration, but Jankowski admitted there isn't quite the same level of trust in those relationships, at least not yet.

The results have been promising. Since 2006, the two innovation partners have produced 282 new inventions and 145 patent submissions. "We've seen a nice throughput from the clinical departments," said Jankowski. And with the addition of research resources such as the new $250-million Harrington project—which includes a think tank and research fellowships designed to bring drug therapies to market—that should only increase. The Harrington project, he said, "can help us tee up products for pharmaceuticals or start-ups, by getting them through clinical trials and taking some of the risk out" for other potential funders.

Jankowsi cautioned that no one should get their hopes up about vast riches for the university from commercialization activities. That's heavily dependent on infrequent home runs in such things as major new pharmaceutical products, which happen at relatively few campuses. But he added that technology transfer is important for other reasons. "It's important to the ecosystem, including in the faculty recruitment process," he said, because the best and the brightest academic and clinical researchers want to be at an institution that's serious about world-class research.

More information:

OVA's New Video Archive is Online:

OVA is pleased to have recently added an archive of program videos to its website. You'll find the full video record of most OVA formal programs since 2008 at www.ohioventure.org/video-archive.html.

Upcoming Meeting Dates:

  • May 11, 2012
    Panel Discussion
    Featuring a Company Showcase

See complete details and registration for these events.

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