UNH Launches New Organization to Accelerate Commercialization

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

DURHAM, N.H. –The University of New Hampshire will continue to open its doors to the business community and create new streams of revenue with the creation of UNH Innovation. UNH Innovation is about providing access to the outputs of the university. 

“UNH Innovation will make the university a leading voice for innovation in the state,” said UNH President Mark Huddleston. “Our history as a land-grant institution has always been one of providing access to the latest knowledge and research to solve the challenges facing New Hampshire and the world. UNH is committed to helping accelerate the state’s economy, and we believe this will help tremendously.”

UNH Innovation comprises licensing, what was once the university’s Office of Research Partnerships and Commercialization; services like the InterOperability Lab and equipment or facilities rentals; and ventures and economic development, with plans to create a mentorship program and increased opportunities for students to work directly with businesses.

“UNH Innovation is the front door to the university for our partners in the business community,” said Jan Nisbet, senior vice provost for research at UNH. “This creates a clear path into the university if you’re interested in our technology, our equipment, and our expertise. Centralizing our efforts to commercialize the university’s intellectual assets will allow us to promote and participate in local economic development as well as diversify revenue streams beyond just licensing income.”

Many universities around the country have research foundations that primarily focus on separating business activities from the university to improve flexibility. But UNH Innovation joins a smaller group of universities, like those in Virginia, Arizona, Illinois, and the UK, taking a more complete view of university assets to improve both the number and quality of business relationships. “UNH Innovation is the next generation of a research foundation, which looks at the university as a whole and not just its licensable technology,” said Marc Sedam, managing director of the new initiative. 

The genesis of the change was an exercise the licensing office took to map UNH’s technology strengths to the strengths of New Hampshire’s business community. 

“I was really surprised to see that there were several technical areas, most notably in space science, data communications, and maritime, which mirrored New Hampshire business but had few strong relationships,” Sedam said. “We set out on a new path to see whether through partnership or new venture creation UNH could have a more proactive role in economic development.”

UNH Innovation will facilitate the use of equipment and space by outside entities. According to Sedam, UNH has a lot of desirable equipment, including a powerful DNA sequencer and the only Cray supercomputer in the state of New Hampshire. “Most instrumentation works best when it’s heavily utilized,” Sedam said. “It’s a win for everyone. Companies can buy time on our instruments, which helps us cover costs and train students with useful skills, and provides companies access to equipment they need for a fraction of the cost of purchasing it outright.” 

The third component focuses on new ventures and economic development with students as well as faculty and staff. Plans are underway for a new entrepreneurship curriculum to be taught across campus, a volunteer mentorship network with local alumni and business leaders, and training and outreach to promote the creation of new technology-based businesses.

The University of New Hampshire, founded in 1866, is a world-class public research university with the feel of a New England liberal arts college. A land, sea, and space-grant university, UNH is the state’s flagship public institution, enrolling 12,300 undergraduate and 2,200 graduate students.

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