Indiana University

IURTC charts new strategic direction to support faculty innovation and entrepreneurship

  • April 11, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University and IU Research and Technology Corp. leadership have outlined a comprehensive strategy to transform IURTC’s efforts to more effectively support faculty research that leads to commercial licensing opportunities, startup companies and greater entrepreneurial activity.

As part of the plan presented today to the IU Board of Trustees by IU Vice President for Engagement William Stephan and IURTC President and CEO Tony Armstrong, the IURTC will look to sell its 63,000-square-foot Innovation Center building on 10th Street in Indianapolis and move into a repurposed building on the site of the former Wishard Hospital, part of the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus.

“The opportunity to relocate IURTC facilities and staff to an on-campus location, proximate to our faculty and students, is one we enthusiastically embrace,” Stephan said. “IU has exciting plans to transform the Wishard site into a hub of medical and scientific discovery, and moving to that location will allow us greater collaborative opportunities with faculty and students engaged in cutting-edge research.”

No timetable has been determined for putting the Innovation Center building on the market. IURTC has been in its current facility, a former business furniture warehouse, since 2003.

IURTC’s decision to sell its facility and move onto the IUPUI campus was one of five strategies presented to the IURTC board of directors late last week and to the IU Trustees today. The plan comes as a result of an extensive benchmarking process that included site visits by IURTC leadership to top research universities such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology, California Institute of Technology and University of California, Los Angeles, as well as secondary research on the technology transfer efforts of numerous other peer universities.

In addition, IURTC recently surveyed a range of community stakeholders across Indiana, including businesses, economic development and governmental agencies, charitable foundations and educational institutions. The research revealed a high premium on fostering entrepreneurship in the state, along with significant opportunities for IU to contribute to and influence the culture in this area.

In outlining IURTC’s strategic plan, Stephan and Armstrong noted that the organization, founded in 1997, has supported increased invention disclosures, patents and business startups over the past six years.

For example, IURTC helped launch 16 faculty startup companies in 2013, compared to two in 2008, while the 35 patents issued to IU faculty members in 2013 were more than double the number issued in 2008. Additionally, IU’s Innovate Indiana Fund, created in 2009 with an initial investment of $10 million, currently has invested nearly $3 million in 11 IU-based startup companies.

“Over the past several years, IURTC has supported increased invention disclosures, patent activities and business startups from IU faculty members, but given the breadth and depth of the intellectual and entrepreneurial capacity at the university, we have the opportunity for significant growth,” Armstrong said.

“Our goal is to provide IU faculty and students the best possible suite of services in support of their discoveries and entrepreneurial activities; and our strategic goals -- which were derived after considerable research -- will provide IURTC with a clear direction going forward.”

Other IURTC strategies presented to the IU Trustees included:

  • Realign resources to concentrate more on high-potential startup companies and ideas by investing more in the IURTC Spin Up program, which helps university innovators launch their ideas into the marketplace, and through the creation of a mentoring network that connects first-time faculty startup ventures with successful entrepreneurs.
  • Partner with the IU Foundation to more broadly engage IU alumni and other potential donors in order to create a new "seed” funding source for faculty research and discovery.
  • Leverage IU Bloomington’s strengths in technology-related disciplines through the development of applied technology programs that would increase IU’s commercial research opportunities with potential partners such as NSWC Crane and in Indiana’s burgeoning life sciences industry.
  • Strengthen IU’s entrepreneurial culture, building on existing strengths at the IU Kelley School of Business and elsewhere in the university. Students should be offered greater access to a broad range of resources aimed at stimulating entrepreneurial growth on campus. Similarly, developmental support should be provided to innovation-minded faculty members, and IU should pursue opportunities to provide support to Indiana’s entrepreneurial community.

“Technology commercialization has the potential to be a major economic driver in Indiana’s knowledge-based economy, and as the state’s flagship university, IU is committed to playing a major role in developing an entrepreneurial spirit across the state,” Stephan said. “Over the past two decades, IURTC has built a solid foundation to support the work of IU’s innovative faculty, and the organization is poised to build on that work with this new strategic direction.”

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Media Contacts

Mark Land

Associate vice president, IU Communications