Reorganized unit to lead commercialization of U-M research


The University of Michigan has announced the launch of Innovation Partnerships, a reorganized unit that will serve as a central hub to lead research commercialization efforts, support startup company launch and growth, and create and foster corporate research alliances.

The newly named Innovation Partnerships, based in the Office of the Vice President for Research, consolidates, builds on and incorporates the work of the rebranded Office of Technology Transfer and certain elements and staff of the former Business Engagement Center.

This reorganization and expansion of services comes at an opportune time, with U-M being recognized as one of the premier universities in the country for technology commercialization. It ranks in the top five nationally for startup company formation and creation of new invention disclosures, and execution of commercialization agreements with the private sector.

Innovation Partnerships will leverage existing resources to create a Corporate Research Alliances team that will provide partnership support for ongoing care research collaborations, working to broaden these relationships across the research enterprise.

Corporate Research Alliances will complement existing staff with new hires to provide a new faculty-facing service to aid in converting strategic industry relationships into successful sponsored-research collaborations.

Innovation Partnerships prioritizes service to U-M faculty by serving as the primary gateway for innovators seeking to increase the impact of their research by connecting with the private sector — whether through corporate-sponsored research collaborations, licensing discussions or connections with entrepreneurs and investors to support startup company formation.

“The launch of Innovation Partnerships signals our overall commitment to ensuring that society is able to benefit from the tremendous research and scholarship activity led by the University of Michigan,” said Rebecca Cunningham, vice president for research and the William G. Barsan Collegiate Professor of Emergency Medicine.

“By expanding and strengthening partnerships between the university and the private sector, Innovation Partnerships can amplify the impact of faculty research and drive economic growth through commercialization and startup company formation.”

The launch of Innovation Partnerships follows a comprehensive assessment of the university’s approach to corporate research, as well as feedback and ideation sessions with faculty, campus stakeholders, university leaders, community organizations and industry partners about the future of technology transfer. These efforts revealed the need for a modernized organization to facilitate both research commercialization and corporate research collaborations.

“The name Innovation Partnerships was selected to declare our team’s commitment to provide enhanced faculty support as their trusted partner throughout their innovation journey,” said Kelly Sexton, associate vice president for research and innovation partnerships.

“We already offer comprehensive step-by-step service to entrepreneurial faculty starting with invention assessment and intellectual property support, followed by business mentoring and connections to early-stage capital from the Accelerate Blue Fund.

“Our team has now expanded its mission to provide enhanced services to help faculty create new research collaborations with industry, allowing us to leverage our existing relationships with industry, investors and entrepreneurs to positively impact society and drive economic growth.”


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