Saturday, October 24, 2009

University of Massachusetts licensing income from its intellectual property income climbed to $73 million during Fiscal Year 2009, a record and a performance likely to vault UMass into the intellectual property income Top 10 nationwide.

"Research and discovery are crucial to the Commonwealth's innovation economy and will drive economic renewal and recovery in this state and across the nation. Having a robust research program is a great advantage for the 63,000 students of the University of Massachusetts system, who have the benefit of learning from the very people who are expanding the boundaries of human knowledge," President Jack Wilson said.

UMass generated $37 million in licensing income from its intellectual property in Fiscal Year 2008 and saw its earnings soar in Fiscal Year 2009, which ended on June 30, largely as a result of UMass Medical School receiving a $30 million upfront payment from Merck & Co. as a result of the licensing of a human monoclonal antibody combination for clostridium difficile infection - a treatment developed at the Massachusetts Biologic Laboratories.

In recent years, according to the Association of University Technology Managers annual survey, UMass has ranked among the Top 15 nationwide in intellectual property income of reporting institutions and the past year's major jump in earnings is likely to vault it into the Top 10 nationally. Universities generate intellectual property income when they protect faculty discoveries through patents and trademarks and companies license those discoveries to produce innovative products. Universities may also generate income when they receive company equity and later sell stocks as emerging companies become more successful.

Friday, June 5, 2009

While Massachusetts maintains the top state ranking in science and technology prowess, Boston has slipped.

In the Milken Institute’s ranking of top high-tech center areas in North America, Seattle passed Boston and became America’s second-ranking high-tech metro area. The number one spot belongs to Silicon Valley, which “continues to lead all other metropolitan regions in North America in the breadth and scope of economic activity it creates through technological innovation,” according to the study.

According to Milken Institute, the Top Ten North America high-tech centers are:

2007 Ranking (2003 Ranking) Metro Area Total High Tech Score

1 (1) San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 100.0

2 (3) Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA 46.4

3 (2) Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, MA 45.2

4 (5) Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 41.8

5 (4) Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA 40.2

6 (6) Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX 21.8
(7) San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA 19.3

8 (11) Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, CA 17.7

9 (9) New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ 16.8

10 (8) San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA 16.1

The report, called “North America’s High-Tech Economy: The Geography of Knowledge-Based Industries,” was presented earlier this week at the 2009 IEDC Technology-Led Economic Development Conference.

Metro areas were ranked by “their ability to grow and sustain thriving high-tech industries.” The study compares wages and employment in the metropolitan areas, and adds a location quotient, which measures the concentration of high-tech employment or wages in the area.

Boston area still is number one among 381 metro areas in scientific research and development services, one of twenty high-tech industry segments. So, it has the potential to be number one overall if it improves its capacity to turn innovative ideas into plans, plans into operating businesses, and businesses into rapidly growing ventures. Moving research to ventures remains its major challenge. That is why programs like the Venture Development Center are important.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Last week I was asked how long it took to complete the VDC project. I smiled. There are several correct answers:

  • It took eight years. (From vision statement.)
  • It took four years. (From space assigned.)
  • It took one year. (From start of construction.)
The original vision for the VDC was put forward by us in February 2001 in association with planning for an environmental science and technology park on property owned by the city adjacent to the university campus. That larger plan was eventually abandoned due to delays related to land acquisition and financing.

Since one million in funds had already been appropriated by congress, UMass Boston had to develop an alternative plan. In July 2005 Chancellor Motley assigned the former 18,000 square feet cafeteria space in the Wheatley building for VDC, and the vice chancellor for administration and finance authorized planning for the demolition and renovation of the Wheatley Building space.

In September 2005, UMass Boston facilities management hired consulting engineers to draw up demolition plans and specifications. In December 2005 a contractor was selected for demolition work. The demolition was completed in May 2006.

In March 2006 Design Partnership of Cambridge, Inc. was hired for the feasibility study phase. In September 2006 Design Partnership issued the final VDC feasibility study and preliminary construction cost estimate.

In November 2006, an agreement was reached between UMass Boston and the UMass Building Authority to structure the management of the design and construction phase of the VDC project. Joslin Lesser & Associates, Inc. was hired by the UMass Building Authority for project management of the design and construction phase of the VDC.

In December 2006, the RFP was issued for architectural services for the design and construction phase of the VDC. In March 2007 Sasaki Associates Inc., was selected.

In August 2007, Chancellor Motley expressed his approval of the project plans and budget. Permission to proceed to construction documents development was given. The schedule had construction completed by June 2008.

In November 2007 construction documents and specifications delivered by Sasaki Associates to Building Authority and UMass Boston team. The bid process was begun, and in February 2008 the construction contract signed with J & J Contractors, Inc. In February 2009, the VDC project was completed.

In May 2009, after months of getting every system to work as planned, we launched in grand fashion, with 200 university, city and business leaders in attendance cheering us on.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Storytelling is a technique on the rise. Use it to better engage your audience and ensure your message sticks.

A popular proponent is Robert Frank, an economist at the Johnson School of Management at Cornell University, and author of The Economic Naturalist.

In a talk to Google employees, he argues that the study of economics is dismally taught and dismally understood. He suggests that rather than teach all the “horrible equations and graphs,” an alternative method should be deployed– that of storytelling and narrative. He says: “The form in which ideas are conveyed is important. Perhaps because our species evolved as storytellers, the human brain is innately receptive to information in narrative form.”

Frank says: “… in light of the low bar established by traditional courses, there seems little risk in trying something different.”

Friday, May 8, 2009

In Bridging the Gap Between Stewards and Creators, MIT Sloan Management Review, authors Rob Austin (Harvard) and Dick Nolan (University of Washington) identify two personality types that are vital to successful innovation--but whose mindsets often clash. The major question addressed by Austin and Nolan is how do businesses consistently miss major innovation opportunities after pouring significant investments to create them.

After researching the movement of computing pioneers among various organizations during a period between the early 1960s and the mid-1990s, they conclude that when tensions between bottom line-oriented managers (stewards) and creative technical employees (creators) are not managed well, a company’s ability to innovate is at risk.

Stewards are usually managers; their goal is the careful allocation of the organization's resources, with an aim of achieving an optimal return on investment. Creators are often skilled, specialized employees whose have a grand vision and mission; they frequently view business concerns as secondary.

According to the authors, conflict between stewards and creators is, to some extent, inevitable. However, when such conflict is managed poorly, the organization's capacity to innovate effectively may be impaired. The authors suggest eight guidelines for managing steward-creator conflict. These guidelines include: (1) keep talented creators around, although they can be difficult to manage; (2) balance the influence of stewards and creators in the organization, so neither group always wins; (3) cultivate people who have credibility with both creators and stewards and can help resolve conflicts; (4) use peer review to more accurately evaluate creators' specialized technical work; (5) structure the innovation process so that creators produce tangible results regularly; (6) realize that there will always be some conflict between an organizations' creators and its stewards; (7) avoid overly prescriptive control mechanisms that may alienate creators; and (8) ensure that closure on projects is achieved neither too quickly nor too slowly.

A lively 28 minute discussion by the authors of the Organizational Dilemma of Stewards and Creators has been published by the Seattle Innovation Symposium.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Yesterday, Harvard President Faust rode the Red Line to join 200 city, business and education leaders to cut a ribbon and mark the official opening of UMass Boston’s Venture Development Center.

“The state-of-the-art R&D facility and business incubator...signals the Dorchester extension of the innovation, research, and development that occurs along the Red Line,” Faust noted.

Also participating were Chancellor J. Keith Motley, University of Massachusetts, Boston, President Jack Wilson, University of Massachusetts, and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

President Faust's remarks, "Innovation, collaboration and renewal – lessons along the Red Line" are posted on the Harvard University Office of the President's web site.

"The Red a highly useful reminder of...where we can go … if we commit to working together to get there," she said.

View the entire event on YouTube.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Patent awards are not a perfect barometer for an organization’s ability to innovate, but it can be one important measure of its investment in itself and its intellectual property—and its future competitiveness.

According to figures Xconomy obtained from Wilmington, DE-based IFI Patent Intelligence, here’s the top 25 list for Massachusetts:

1. EMC (IT) — 192
2. MIT (academic research) — 138
3. Analog Devices (semiconductors) — 122
4. Raytheon (defense) — 122
5. Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories (electronics) — 86
6. Acushnet (sporting goods) — 78
7. Massachusetts General Hospital (medical research) — 53
8. Harvard University (academic research) — 51
9. Osram Sylvania (lighting manufacturing) — 46
10. Vertex Pharmaceuticals (biotechnology — 45
11. BBN Technologies (technology R&D) — 42
12. Millennium Pharmaceuticals (biotechnology) — 37
13. 3Com (network infrastructure) — 34
14. The MathWorks (software) — 32
15. Varian Semiconductor Equip. Associates (semiconductors) — 32
16. Teradyne (semiconductors/test equipment) — 27
17. Gillette (consumer products) — 26
18. The University of Massachusetts (academic research) — 26
19. Axcelis Technologies (semiconductors) — 24
20. PerkinElmer (healthcare/analytical sciences) — 24
21. M/A-Com (RF/microwave products) — 23
22. Rohm and Haas Electronic Materials (specialty materials) — 23
23. Children’s Hospital (medical research) — 23
24. Bose (audio equipment) — 22
25. Cabot (chemicals) — 21

Academic institutions contributed an impressive 21% of the patents.