Shape the future of research institutions, high-tech companies, early state investors, and government agencies by

[accelerating interaction and innovation exchange
[advising groups on leading tactics in technology commercialization, tech/startup investing, and open innovation

Contact Us

HDQ: Minneapolis/St.Paul, MN

Phone: 888.611.3314


  • The University >< Industry Virtual Summit is a practitioner-driven series for those interested in university-industry interactions. Through interactive web-based exchanges and associated tools, we have compiled a resource that new/tenured managers and stakeholders can use within their own organization to communicate the importance and to develop the capabilities to effectively interact with industry partners. This format was chosen to provide a cost-effective option to include deeper discussion and expanded perspectives from leading experts and practitioners. The six sessions, described below, can be downloaded and shared throughout your organization as individual events or as a complete, discounted series. Each comes with video of the full event and all event presentations and materials.


    This session takes a results-driven approach to measuring and reporting success in university-industry partnerships.

    Our expert panel approaches this topic with over 50 years of experience from both the industry- and university-side to better understand the motivations of each and to build programs that deliver value to both:

    Participants should use this information to craft a powerful and customized approach to measuring and reporting impact for their own campus-wide or unit-based corporate relations strategies. Both approaches are meant to tie directly into institutional leadership priorities in both industrial partnering and economic development.

    Discussion Points:

    • What impact really matters to my program and organization?
    • How do we track, measure, and report this impact in a way that resonates with stakeholders?
    • How are we using this process to sustain, develop, and enhance our collaborations?


    • Wayne Johnson, Director of Innovation Partnerships, Mass Insight
    • Andrew Lipstein, Head of Global Programs, Thomson Reuters Labs™
    • Jacob Johnson, Founder, innovosource
    Summary The future success (and survival) of University >< Industry relationships will flourish at those institutions that can seamlessly connect market needs with research institution innovation assets within a campus ecosystem that contains many corporate touch points. These decentralized nodes of corporate interaction occur naturally, especially in the spaces where the assets are highly concentrated. Leading institutions will figure out how to bridge these organizational boundaries. One of the most prominent nodes is research centers and/or industrial consortium. Changes in resources, partnership requirements, faculty perspectives, and value to industry are cementing these groups as members of the campus-wide corporate relations equation. From a report of 102 industry leaders from 18 high-tech sectors:
    • 80% identified research centers and their faculty as their preferred initial entry point in a partner research institutions
    • Most identified faculty experts, student projects, leveraging facilities and equipment, and industrial research programs as top value partnership assets (all facilitated by research centers and industrial consortium)
    This 90-minute session will look at how two effective models, the Materials Research Institute and the Industrial Partnership for Research in Interfacial Materials and Engineering (IPRIME), collaborate with over 100 high-tech companies, steps to formation, and tactics that they employ to deliver value to companies and campus partners. Focus Areas
    • Formation and structure
    • In-depth discussion of tactics to attract industry participation
    • Practices for generating industry leads and managing relationships
    • Methods to interface centralized corporate relations/industrial relations offices, tech transfer offices, and other research centers
    • Metrics, challenges, opportunities, and more…
    • Centralized corporate relations and technology transfer functions will better understand how to leverage and coordinate with research centers (and their offerings) in their relationship building function
    • Research centers, at all stages of maturity, will recognize how to develop programs that attract industry partnership in their program
    • High-tech companies and stakeholders will understand how these centers or expertise are positioned to collaborate with industry
    • Dave Fecko, Manager of Industry Relations, Materials Research Institute, Penn State University
    • Bob, Lewis, Director of Tech Transfer, IPRIME, University of Minnesota
    Problem Statement: Industry-interfacing units at research institutions, including corporate relations offices, tech transfer units, research centers, and other administrative units, have been operating some level of an intelligence program since their inception. The issue is that much of this work is done individually at the unit or professional level, with little cross-sharing and maximization of resulting knowledge across campus Result: The outcome is an inefficient, resource-intensive pursuit that is under-delivering in its potential to identify, position, and nurture corporate partnerships Future opportunity: Leading university operations are making a move to formalize an intelligence program as part of the core industry-interfacing operations strategy. This group is made up of professionals that are skilled in the art of structuring the intelligence gathering and reporting process, efficiently accessing information through available or specialized tools, and coordinating resulting actionable intelligence within their unit and across campus In short, it’s about accessing new knowledge quicker and leveraging your existing knowledge more efficiently, in order to identify and position new industry collaborations, while providing unmatched service to existing relationship Session Description: Join us at this session of the University-Industry Virtual Summit led by intelligence practitioners that manage units within their tech transfer, corporate relations and other industry interfacing units. The primary focus of the event will be surrounding process and tools surrounding both corporate and campus intelligence
    • Primer on what exactly is “corporate and campus intelligence” as a tactic
    • How to structure and manage a dedicated corporate and campus intelligence capability
    • Leveraging tools already available on campus, including libraries, CRM, internal databases to uncover actionable intelligence for corporate collaboration
    • Building and developing custom tools to support knowledge collection on both corporations and campus assets
    • Understanding challenges and impact of intelligence programs on research agreements, technology transfer, corporate philanthropy, and general industrial collaboration
    • John Jackson, Manager, Business Intelligence Unit, TechLaunch AZ
    • Todd Fenton, Librarian of Expert Systems, University of Minnesota
    • Rob Lowe, CEO, Wellspring
    Summary The movement towards centralized and well-coordinated campus approaches to industry interaction is nothing new—the times and trends demand it.  In fact, if you or someone  you know on your campus hasn’t been tapped by a leader to lead a effort or even form a new unit at least once (but more likely twice), you are in the minority. Over the past eight years, the concept is well accepted, but the implementation of this effort into an operation that is sustainable is the difficult part. What we are interest in is the customizations that have taken place in this centralized movement since this initial conceptual model was penned. Campuses have adopted this movement as a simple monthly meeting between corporate-interfaces on campus, all the way to an establishment of a new unit that is responsible for the coordination of all industry activity on campus.  This could include an expansion of responsibilities in tech commercialization or traditionally philanthropic/development offices, to a consolidation or formation of an umbrella organization. Focus Areas From our standpoint, there are five common functional targets of these units, each with their own challenges and intricacies that need to be discussed, addressed, and developed that will be discussed:
    • Creating a front-door/concierge service to assist businesses of all sizes in triaging their requests and finding what they need on campus
    • Hiring or coordinating relationship managers to build and strengthen relationships with industry partners and interact with assets on campus
    • Building and supporting tools/web-interfaces to showcase assets/or discovery of those assets for interested industry partners
    • Coordinating all industry touch points on campus through the use of systems and communities of practice
    • Recording and report on the evolution of industry partnerships so that the campus as a whole can be more strategic in its approach
    • Susan LaBelle, Executive Director, Office of Corporate Relations, University of Wisconsin-Madison
    • Ann Schmierer, Director, Advantage Partnerships, Oregon State University
    Summary This session will explore how corporate relations from foundations and development offices at research institutions has evolved significantly in the past decade. The expert panel will discuss how their programs have better serviced philanthropic interactions with corporations in this new reality, and how these efforts work in tandem with other industry-interfacing groups on campus. Focus Areas This session will approach the evolution of university corporate philanthropy in four focus areas:
    •  A look back to highlight what has happened at each organization to structure success in corporate philanthropy over the past decade
    • Tactical review of corporate relationship-building  to showcase specific initiatives that have better turned corporate relationships into financial support and partnerships for the research institution
    • Tactical review of campus-relationship building to overview internal actions that have facilitated better collaboration with tech transfer, research administration, career services, professional development, and other industry-interfacing units
    • A glance forward to suggest where our experts believe university corporate philanthropy will evolve in the next five years
    ALSO We will also briefly discuss other ways university foundation and development offices are supporting campus corporate and innovation initiatives likecrowdfunding and university proof of concept and start-up gap funding. Experts
    • Brian Darmody: AVP Corporate and Foundation Relations, University of Marlyand System
    • Loreta Mascioli: Director of Corporate Giving, West Virginia University
    Summary This session will explore how industry-interfacing university offices effectively using focus groups, events, partnerships with both external business stakeholders and campus research/strength areas to effectively develop programs and initiatives to increase interactions with businesses of all sizes, from large corporations to SMEs. Focus Areas The expert panel will talk from inception > collection > interpretation > action using two distinct and purposeful approaches/case studies: Targeted/Inside Out: Clustering and cataloging internal assets in strength areas and using that knowledge to approach the priorities of companies in those needs areas Generalized/ Outside In: An economic development, city/regional approach through partnerships with chambers, initiative foundations, and other state partners to gather business feedback and interest from SMEs regarding engagement on campus through business leader focus groups and surveying Participants can use this information to craft a powerful and customized approach to gathering feedback for their own campus-wide or unit-based corporate relations strategies. Both approaches are meant to tie directly into institutional leadership priorities in both industrial partnering and economic development. Experts
    • Mason Ailstock, COO, Research Triangle Park
    • Kate Tallman, AVP Technology Transfer, University of Colorado System
    • Jacob Johnson, Founder, innovosource
  • Gap Funding Web Summit

    The Mind the Gap Web Summit is a practitioner-driven series for those interested in university-affiliated proof of concept and startup gap funding. Through interactive web-based exchanges and associated tools, we are offering this resource for new/tenured fund managers and stakeholders. Participants can freely use both the recorded events and associated presentations within their own organization to communicate the importance and to develop the capabilities to effectively manage and evolve their gap funding program. This format was chosen to deliver a cost-effective option to include deeper discussion and expanded perspectives from leading experts and practitioners backed by over a decade of experience with over 200 funds. The six sessions, described below, will be delivered through access to recorded sessions and downloadable presentations. Web Event Line-up

    From our analysis of over 50 University-affiliated Proof of Concept programs, we have observed their strength in moving technology to a point of commercialization, while acting as an effective means to leverage and attract outside capital and expertise.

    Proof of Concept (POC) gap funds evaluate commercial potential, demonstrate the value, and generally de-risk (or perception of risk) the project to commercial partners or investors. Achievements like prototypes and commercial assessment help to identify and secure a route to commercialization, if one exists. POC funds also identify weakness in the technology for further development, or help avoid costs by deciding not pursue the technology These funds are often administered centrally through the technology transfer office, research foundation, central research administration, or the equivalent at the college-level. Externally-partnered public funds, accelerators, and corporate funds run independently or in close collaboration with the research institution. In this session, we will hear from leading fund managers regarding their strategies for:
    • Raising and sustaining POC funds
    • Communicating the fund and sourcing projects
    • Working with faculty/student inventors throughout the process
    • Evaluating projects for funding
    • External collaboration with industry, entrepreneurs, and investors as funding sources and advisory support
    • Oversight and management of funded projects
    David Allen Vice President, Tech Launch Arizona/POC Fund University of Arizona
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    Seth Crossno Commmercialization Program Manager, Chancellor's Innovation Fund North Carolina State University
    Martina Pace Manager, Tech Transfer Office/TAKEOFF Fund University of Malta
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    Jacob Johnson Founder, innovosource
    Author, Mind the Gap
    Startup Formation gap funds assist in the formational steps of spin-outs — even prior to becoming a legal entity. This gap fund type could be seen as a startup-focused extension of proof of concept funding that further develops the business application of the technology through market research, product development, business development, management, space, and equipment to attract third party interest and capital These funds are primarily administered by the technology transfer office and associated venture centers. External public-private arrangements to support business creation are administered by sponsoring agency or through close collaboration with the research institution   Startup Growth gap funds invest in scaling and growing established spin-outs. Research institutions have created, spun out, or partnered with seed funds and accelerators, both public and private, to fill this void in early stage startup capital and to directly invest in their own startups. Some institutions are even beginning to invest in non-institution startups. Centrally managed Startup Growth gap funds are limited based on the required capital. To overcome this challenge and mitigate risk, research institutions may partner with existing early stage venture firms or corporate investor groups In this session, we will hear from leading fund managers regarding their strategies for:
    • Raising and sustaining startup funds
    • Communicating the fund and sourcing startups
    • Working with faculty/student inventors throughout the process
    • Evaluating startups for funding
    • External collaboration with industry, entrepreneurs, and investors as funding sources and advisory support
    • Oversight and management of funded startups
    Bob Creeden Managing Director, Seed Fund University of Virginia
    Jason Pariso 2
    Jason Pariso Director, Innovation Fund University of Chicago

    Donations, endowments, and direct investments from alumni, private foundations, and other stakeholders of the research institution into supporting gap funding programs, is the largest and growing source of proof of concept and startup funding programs. These friends of the university contribute over 50¢ on every dollar into the formation of these funds.

    Proof of concept and startup gap funding programs embody the intersection between research institution innovation, societal benefit, and philanthropy. They offer a natural link to engage alumni, foundations, corporations, and friends of the universities.

    These funds and programs require coordination between the Tech Commercialization Offices, Corporate & Foundation Relations , Development Offices, and Alumni Offices and are a great example of the emerging trend of campus-wide collaboration in innovation partnership and commercialization priorities.

    Join us as we take a multi-perspective approach to how groups are best structuring their programs for philanthropic partnerships as a major source for innovation funding and support.

    Case Cortese (Alumni) Director, Innovation, New Ventures & Entrepreneurship California Institute of Technology
    Elias Caro (Foundation)
    VP Technology Development, Wallace H. Coulter Foundation
    Erica Smith (Foundation) Director, Research Awards Wallace H. Coulter Foundation
    Jacob Johnson (Crowdfunding) Founder innovosource
    Over 30 states in the US and countless established and emerging innovation economies across the globe are actively supporting these funding programs. In our most recent survey, over 30% of all gap funding support came from these agencies and initiatives. State, regional, and federal governments are a growing source of funding for translational research, proof of concept, and startup funding often in collaboration and support of opportunities stemming from research institutions. These initiatives are motivated by the promise of economic development, and business and talent development/attraction/retention. Join us to take a look into these programs and here from both university-public gap funding partnerships to learn how to develop and expand on these collaborations Experts:
    Nancy Vorona VP, Research Investment Center for Innovative Technology (Virginia)
    Marco Rubin Senior Investment Director Center for Innovative Technology (Virginia)
    Denise Graves University Relations Director Michigan Economic Development Corporation
    Matt McCooe CEO Connecticut Innovations
    While just a small percentage of the total venture, corporate, angel activity, the role that early stage investors has and should play in the early development of research institution technologies and  startups should not be discounted. More than the capital itself, these investors and partners bring a wealth of market knowledge and networks of management talent and business connections. Research institutions can take advantage of this resource by strategically integrating investors and corporations into their operation, especially in evaluatory and advisory functions. In this session, we will discuss how active relationship-building between research institutions and the investment and corporate community supports operations, orders startup priorities, and strategically directs limited development capital in the near-term, while setting up the possibility for later investment and commercial partnership.
    Gap funding programs have a much broader impact than financial return alone, and are more appropriately assessed on their ability to improve the innovation capability and landscape surrounding research institutions and affiliated stakeholders. In fact, most of their immediate and near-term returns are better represented in their ability to catalyze the commercialization process, to build support communities that can assist in the development of funded projects, and to convert those projects into commercial entities that create jobs and enrich local and regional economies; but, perhaps the most exciting observation is that gap funding programs are playing a direct role in attracting outside capital and expertise. In this session, we will suggest a structure for measuring gap funding impact, both financial and programmatic, that gap fund programs and managers can use to better demonstrate the impact of their program. These measures align gap funding practices with the mission of the research university, and other public and private sources of early stage capital, while demonstrating how the practice supports innovation and commercialization on a larger scale, including:
    • Catalyzing the Commercialization Process
    • Growing a Community of Innovation
    • Building Businesses and Creating Jobs
    • Attracting Capital and Expertise
    • Returning Capital to the Gap Funding Program
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