BR Tech Transfer – New Collaborations Show Promise
by Juan Diego Alonso Succar, MBA ’14
BR Tech Transfer (BRT) adds to the BR startup suite of student-run entrepreneurship services by offering students practical opportunities to learn outside of the classroom. BRT members work with portfolio managers at the Cornell Center for Technology Enterprise and Commercialization (CCTEC) to help them analyze the business opportunity behind disclosed inventions. Developed at Cornell, these promising inventions are on the cutting edge of industry practice, offering students a glimpse of where technology evolution is heading.
BRT members are self-starters and entrepreneurs at heart. We use the entrepreneurial approach to test the value of inventions; members exhaustively examine unmet industry needs to determine alternative viable markets for tech development. This means that BRT members must be quick to understand the business models that apply to the technology, must have the intellectual stamina to size and segment markets across industries, and must be talented communicators, often contacting public and private industry experts to test assumptions on the technology’s potential.
This collaboration results in educated strategies and decision-making. Portfolio managers conduct a business assessment that helps them decide whether or not a technology should be protected, and whether or not said technology is ready to be pitched to industry leaders, licensed to a startup, or a number of different early-stage commercialization paths. This is of tremendous help to CCTEC.
BRT members make a difference by offering additional support to portfolio managers. Protecting technologies costs money; delays in commercializing market-ready technologies also cost money. Having the capacity to analyze business opportunities and acting on such opportunities minimize these costs. This can result in more research and licensing dollars flowing to the university, and in turn this should help to create jobs.
BRT members benefit from the program because the process helps develop university-industry relationships and early technology valuation techniques. For future entrepreneurs this is a one-of-a-kind opportunity, especially for the possibility that outside of the project an inventor can recruit a BRT member to help them commercialize the invention.
My experience with the program is a great example of how BRT provides experiential opportunities. After completing my project, for example, the inventor I worked with recruited me to take the technology to market (inventors often work at full capacity and need an extra hand to furnish the business plan and strategy). With the help of other Johnson students, I created a business plan and slide deck that is now being used to acquire non-dilutive funding. These funds will be used to build a market-ready prototype of the technology.
BRT thus gives members the opportunity to learn more than they would otherwise learn in class alone. We have, for example, gained first-hand knowledge about different modes of fundraising, business ownership structures, and tax strategies.
BRT is self-directed work, and members get out of it exactly what they put into it. Dedication is a must, because a BRT member works with highly talented people and everyone expects contributors to bring their best to the table. Overall, even though the process is exhaustive, it has been a great experience.
We’ve created a collaborative program in which Cornell technologies can get licensed faster by companies, entrepreneurs, and other parties, thus putting more Cornell technology in the market and yielding more revenue for the Cornell stakeholders who make this happen.
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