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From Research Invention to Commercialization – Friction and Obstacles

Contributors:
Adam Hartung, Manny Teran, Doug Hockstad
Research Universities, Innovation, Invention, Arizona, Local Economy, Commercialization, Technology

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This week’s podcast is an interview with Doug Hockstad, Assistant VP at the University of Arizona’s Tech Launch Arizona. Doug discusses how the university undertakes initial efforts to commercialize inventions for its labs and how he focuses resources on moving inventions from paper to license. Universities and research organizations typically focus on inventing new things, without much concern for commercialization. Thus university commercialization is more concentrated on invention protection and preparing for licensing, than figuring out how to turn the invention into high value commercial products.


Research organizations operate quite separately from commercial thinking. Reaching licensing opportunities is the goal. Thus there may, or may not, be commercial value to the inventions at research organizations like the University of Arizona.  Developing that commercial value is left up to external entities. For entrepreneurs, these can be a great source of invention.  If an entrepreneur is looking for technology to meet trend needs in her market, university organizations like Tech Launch Arizona are potentially good sources.


The degree to which inventions at UA create companies and jobs in AZ is entirely up to the marketplace. The silicon valley ecosystem of money, talent and interactivity does create a significant pull away from Arizona. There is not yet a concerted effort by government and industry leaders in Arizona to build an ecosystem to keep more inventions in Arizona creating small companies, jobs —— and the next Facebook, Google or Zappos. Time will tell if Tucson can develop a commercialization ecosystem like Palo Alto or Austin.


Thinking Points:

  • Are you focused on invention or innovation? Can you turn inventions into high value innovations?
  • Do you let external data, especially trends, drive your innovation activities?  Or are you enamored with inventing something new irrespective of its commercial value?
  • When you are starting, or focused on growing, your business do you have an ecosystem of external resources that can aid your growth?  Or are you trying to grow your business in a desert of external resources?