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STC Hosts Two Visits from International University Groups

November was a busy month for STC’s Internship Academy. The tech transfer office hosted two visits from two Japanese universities who came for week-long visits to learn about university technology transfer and entrepreneurship. Eri Hoshi, STC Economic Development Manager and manager of the internship academy was pleased with the outcome of the visits.

“I was happy to spend time with our international visitors to get to know them better. The students learned a great deal about our commercialization activities and entrepreneurial mindset here in Albuquerque. They told me that this program gave them great guidance and new options for their careers. I hope the program continues to grow and contributes to international research and economic development collaborations.”

The student internship program is an intensive week-long program designed for students who want to learn about how a university technology transfer office functions and who are entrepreneurial or want to promote entrepreneurism within their university communities. Participants in the program learn about the roles and responsibilities of tech transfer staff members, gain insight into how the fields of business, science and law work together in commercializing technologies, learn what tools and skill set are necessary for successful entrepreneurship, and explore their potential to become entrepreneurs. The curriculum includes seminars, group work, observation of staff at work, presentations in the areas of entrepreneurship, intellectual property, the commercialization process from invention disclosure and patent protection to licensing and start-ups, technology marketing, and business plan basics. The students also attend meetings with university inventors and entrepreneurs heading up start-up companies.

The professional internship academy is also an intensive program, 1-4 weeks long, but designed for professionals who are in new or young technology transfer organizations and want to learn about STC’s best-practices tech-transfer process to grow their own programs. Participants receive comprehensive instruction in the administration and operation of a tech transfer office and in the commercialization and management of technologies. The objectives of the academy include learning about roles and responsibilities of a tech transfer office, understanding how business, science and law come together in the commercialization process, learning about tools and skill sets necessary to manage and commercialize inventions, nurturing a business-oriented mindset, understanding potential market applications for different technologies, learning how to match technologies with the right companies for licensing opportunities, and learning how to find the right entrepreneurs for technologies that are right for start-up opportunities. Activities include seminars, group work, observations/job shadowing, presentations, consultations, and meetings with university inventors and administrators and experienced entrepreneurs.

stc-naoto-nakamuraDuring the week of November 3rd, STC welcomed Mr. Naoto Nakamura, President of KUTLO Ltd. KUTLO is Kanazawa University’s technology licensing organization. Mr. Nakamura has led KUTLO for seven years. The organization is not a separate corporation from the University, which Mr. Nakamura says creates a level of bureaucracy that makes commercialization more difficult. The University consulted with Neils Reimers when putting their program together. Mr. Reimers was the founder and a former director of Stanford University’s Office of Technology Licensing and responsible for developing the marketing model used by many U.S. academic technology transfer enterprises around the world.

Founded in 1949, Kanazawa University was originally a school of medicine (1901) which has become a research university of approximately 10,000 students and is located along the midwestern coast of Japan in the city of Kanazawa, population of 450,000. In 2015 a new bullet train will allow passengers to travel from Tokyo to Kanazawa in 2 1/2 hours. The university consists of two campuses-a main campus for science & technology, social sciences and liberal arts departments and a school of medicine campus.

KUTLO (Kanazawa University Technology Licensing Organization) was established in 2002 by the university to commercialize its technologies. Its biggest licensed technologies are a high speed atomic force microscope, a purification agent for arsenic-contaminated soil, an EM field visualization system, an energy harvesting device and a cancer diagnostic technology. Mr. Nakamura supervises a staff of five who handle commercialization from disclosure to licensing, known in tech transfer language as a “cradle to grave” approach. KUTLO works with Japanese attorneys to file its patents.

During his time at STC, Mr. Nakamura met extensively with STC staff to learn about STC’s commercialization process, attended an IP seminar, met with several main campus and HSC inventors and start-up entrepreneurs, and toured UNM research centers and the BioScience Center business incubator. Mr. Nakamura was also able to enjoy some New Mexico culture during his stay. When he lived in Spain for two years, he learned flamenco dance and was excited to be able to attend a flamenco show in Santa Fe. Flamenco dance in Japan is second only to Spain in popularity.

During the week of November 17th, STC hosted a visit from five graduate students in the HIGO program at Kumamoto University. The city of Kumamoto, population of 700,000, is located in the southern Kyushu region of Japan. Kumamoto University was founded in 1949 (but originally established in 1874 as Kumamoto College).
HIGO (Health life science: Interdisciplinary and Glocal Oriented) is a program in the life and health sciences for masters and doctoral students focused on training the next generation of leaders and pioneers in these areas to create new technologies for a “glocal” society, a term coined by the program to describe its reach as both global (Asian healthcare market) and local (Kyushu regional market).

The program attracts undergraduates from Japanese universities, working professionals and international students who choose their course of study in the medical or pharmaceutical sciences. Students also receive instruction in social and cultural sciences, languages (Chinese, English, and Japanese) and apply what they are learning through internships with administrative agencies and companies, seminars and conferences. Lectures and seminars are conducted in English. As part of HIGO’s overseas internship program, the students came to STC to learn about technology transfer.

The visitors included three doctoral students in neuroscience, Wu Meikui, Huan Luo, and Meng Sun from China; and two doctoral students in pharmaceutical science, Fahim Kabir Monjurul Haque from Bangladesh, and Yukari Kai from Japan. Forty-eight percent of the students in the HIGO program are from other countries. The students were accompanied by Dr. Akinori Hisatsune, an Associate Professor in the HIGO program. Dr. Hisatsune received his Ph.D. in Pharmacy from Kumamoto, did postdoctoral work at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, and has worked for Hisamitsu Pharmaceutical Company.

The students had a very busy week of presentations by STC staff on various areas of STC’s technology commercialization process and its economic development role. They attended an STC seminar on international IP issues, classes at Anderson School of Management on international entrepreneurship and business pitches, visited several faculty members at the College of Pharmacy and Center for Biomedical Engineering, and met STC start-up entrepreneurs. STC board member Dr. Gregg Mayer presented a special seminar for the students on healthcare trends and new technologies in the U.S. and Japan. Dr. Mayer has extensive entrepreneurial experience as the former President of Vivigen, Inc., a clinical genetic testing company later acquired by Genzyme Corporation. Dr. Mayer’s management consulting firm helps companies in the two largest healthcare markets of the world, the U.S. and Japan, create successful strategies for their products and services. He is a lecturer and writer about healthcare in both the U.S. and Japan.

The students were also able to attend several events during UNM’s international student week and, as part of Albuquerque’s Global Entrepreneurship Week, attended a UNM Economic Development Forum to hear presentations by Dr. Hisatsune and Dr. Fumiaki Yasukawa from Yokohama City University, who is a visiting professor in the HIGO program. Dr. Hisatsune provided an overview of Kumamoto University, its technology transfer program, KICO (Kumamoto University Innovative Collaboration Organization), and the HIGO program. Dr. Hisatsune said that KICO is focusing on increasing its licensing deals but as yet has no start-up companies.

Dr. Fumiaki presented on current and future technology areas of growth and innovation in Japan. Dr. Yasukawa stated that while Japan is competitive with other leading countries in R&D investment, patents, and academic-industrial collaborations, Japanese have a very low motivation for entrepreneurship because of a very high fear of failure. He said that the next innovations in Japanese healthcare would be in new devices for homecare, IT as a result of practice collaboration and big data needs, and tissue engineering with iPS (stem) cells.

STC CEO Lisa Kuuttila sees the growth of the internship program having an impact on many goals for the future. “By sharing our expertise in technology transfer best practices with universities that have young programs, we are helping to create global innovation ecosystems that will be ripe for research and economic development opportunities for all of us.”