Lesa Mitchell – University $pinout$

lesa_mitchell_200.jpgDay 14, Thursday 6th Feb: Lesa Mitchell is VP for Advancing Innovation with the Kauffman Foundation. She has been responsible for the Foundation’s frontier work in understanding the policy levers that influence the advancement of innovation from universities into the commercial market. Lesa presented various issues related to University spin-outs, but in particular she emphasised the limitations inherent in University Tech Transfer departments. She analogised that VCs specialise in niche markets and realise significant returns in this way due to comprehensive knowledge and understanding. Using this analogy she continued to emphasise that tech-transfers departments are unable to best meet the requirements of University spin-outs as they are forced to stretch themselves thin and deal with spin-outs from all departments e.g. IT, life sciences, physical sciences etc. In this structure University startups are at an immediate disadvantage.

In the past VCs played a very interactive role by directly networking (not virtual!) with academia and thus maintaining an awareness of projects relevant to their investment interests. Lesa proceeded by describing a project called iBridge Network. iBridge is recreating this approach of directly connecting VC/Fund sources to academics. “iBridge provides the transparency and access to university developed innovations that will lead to further advances and next-generation products. The Network aggregates research materials, technologies, and discoveries in an online, easy-to-search forum—the iBridge Web Site”

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