Sep 042008
 
Authors: Katie Harris

CSU became one of the first public universities to bring a for-profit research model to the table Thursday, when the university announced a possible new seed investment fund for oncology research to inject scientific findings directly into the global marketplace.

Officials announced the fund, described as “first money in,” to alumni at a luncheon at the Fort Collins Hilton. CSU currently receives more federal funding for research than any of its peer institutions.

The newly proposed fund will give the college the extra boost it needs to globally market its research and put it to practical use more rapidly than ever before, Douglas Thamm, an assistant professor of oncology, said.

CSU’s cancer research Supercluster, NeoTREX, is one of two introduced in 2007. Superclusters are CSU initiatives to bring student and faculty research directly into practical use in the marketplace, while market experts handle businesses. Before the Supercluster initiative, researchers dealt directly with their companies.

“With the new Supercluster technology transfer,” Thamm said, “rather than us having to go to [existing companies] with a novel idea, we have the opportunity to run into [CSU Ventures] everyday and ask questions. Technology transfer is integrated rather than an afterthought.”

Thamm said the Supercluster creates post-grad opportunities to students, brings new technology to the global marketplace more quickly and allows businesses to easily access CSU for opportunities. Although CSU’s research efforts top the charts for federal funding, start-up money is often hard to come by.

“Most companies aren’t ready to invest money in research that is in an early stage,” Wdowik said.

Efforts to find funding are on-going.

“There are numerous sources of funding that have been tapped previously,” Thamm said. “More and more we are under pressure . it has been difficult to obtain funding from these sources.”

He added that only about one out of 15 projects receive funding, and it is time to seek alternate forms.

“Leveraging intellectual property is important to generate income for research and expand educational opportunities,” he said.

Wdowik leads the initiative to develop a for-profit seed investment fund to provide start-up money for research.

“Everyone knows that early-stage development has a funding gap,” he said. “It’s hard to find start-up money. What we are talking about is creating that critical funding for the early stage.”

Staff writer Katie Harris can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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