Universities being dragged into more commercialisation of their research

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A small but elite conference brought together by new publication Global University Venturing indicated areas of progress as well as areas of obduracy, but added urgency to the task.

Conceived and run with his usual flair by James Mawson, 16 October saw an outstanding small conference on Global University Venturing, a new publication launched earlier this year, which brought together top people in this field from all over the world to offer in a tightly packed agenda their perspective and to talk about their successes in various fields of venturing.

James sees the commercialisation of university research as a likely source of rescue for the financial squeeze faced by universities. And while delegates saw some signs of changing attitudes in university departments, they also mentioned many of the obstacles still to be tackled if universities are to make real progress in the commercialisation of their research.

The emphasis was certainly on the selection of investments, and the making of deals, and on funding gaps – more than it was on the supporting of investments. Evidence suggests that venture capital organisations are being increasingly attracted to the university sector and a number of strategic partnerships are being formed (among them for example, a leading edge partnership – mentioned in the publication – between the Mayo Clinic and Arizona Furnace, an Accelerator programme, of which Arizona State University was a founding member).

The plethora of small group sessions at the conference provided frequent opportunities for delegates to meet leaders in other sectors and cadge from their experience.

Global University Venturing has chosen a long road to hoe, but if it moves the field forward as fast as Global Corporate Venturing did with corporate ventures, it will have provided a remarkable service.

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Making conferences and meetings more networkable

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Helping delegates to come away from conferences with not just five business cards but with twenty – plus some new perspectives.

If just before each session (and especially before topic break-out sessions), conference chairs can get their audiences to form informal groupings (of three or four people), to say hello to one another and why they had come, to give each other their cards (and perhaps other contact names), delegates could hope to go away with not just five business cards but with twenty or more (and most of them good names.) For a specific protocol, e-mail john.whatmore@btinternet.com