THE UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA
OFFICE OF TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER
Technology transfer at The University of Montana is managed administratively by the Office of Technology Transfer, located within the Office of Research and Development. In short, the office serves as a liaison between UM’s research community and the private sector regarding intellectual property, commercialization and business development opportunities. Beyond Missoula, the Office of Technology Transfer provides the same type of support to UM’s affiliate campuses — which include Montana Tech of The University of Montana, The University of Montana-Helena and The University of Montana Western.
The wide range of activities encompassing technology transfer at The University of Montana can be summarized into four categories:
- Serving the research community and managing intellectual property – Involves the review and negotiation of intellectual property rights associated with the University’s grants and contracts, as well as the assessment and management of the University’s intellectual property portfolio.
- Establishing connections with commercialization partners – Involves building a network of entrepreneurs, investors, small and large businesses, and other institutions with which the University can partner to advance its intellectual property portfolio toward proof of concept, prototypes, development and sale of commercial products.
- Transferring technology to existing or new companies – Involves the negotiation and management of license (technology transfer) agreements on behalf of the University with commercialization partners that may include new companies.
- Commercializing research discoveries to benefit society – Involves working strategically with the University’s commercialization partners as they strive toward development milestones, product sales, investment raises and job creation.
Additionally, the office works to promote business and job growth in Missoula and Montana in partnership with economic development organizations.
- With a focus on these activities, the University’s 2011 Technology Transfer Strategic Planning effort outlined five key areas of strategic direction for this program. Each strategic direction includes four specific thrusts along with an implementation target, all aimed at growing technology transfer activities at The University of Montana in conjunction with the University’s 2020 Plan.
- Strive for excellence in service to the campus community.
- Increase the investor base and number of new invention disclosures.
- Establish new policies and procedures to encourage engagement in technology transfer.
- Enhance collaboration with strategic partners.
- Strengthen marketing and communication efforts.
- Translational research initiative
In an effort to better position the University for national recognition in life science research, technology development and entrepreneurship, the Life Science Translational Research Program launched in 2011. This effort is established upon the success of UM’s School of Pharmacy, which has been ranked among the top 10 pharmacy schools in the U.S.for NIH research funding over the last 10 years. UM Professor Dave Poulsen leads this new translational effort with a goal of establishing representation and strategy for the University as it comes under greater pressure from federal funding agencies to bridge the gap from basic to clinical research.
- New patents
- “Oxine modified silica polyamine composites for the separation of gallium from aluminum, ferric from nickel and copper from nickel” (Rosenberg, P. Miranda and Y. Wong).
- “Novel inhibitors of the amino acid transporters ASCT1 (SCL1A4) and ASCT2 (SCL1A5)” (B. Lyda, C. Esslinger, M. Kavanaugh and N. Natale).
- “Use of cyanobacterium to degrade chitin for biomass production” (C. Blank and N. Hinman).
- “Nanoporous silica polyamine composites with surface-bound zirconium(IV) and methods of use “(E. Rosenberg, D. Neilson and V. Kailasam).
- New inventions
- “Novel natural product analogs with antiprotozoal and antibacterial activity” (D. Bolstad, N. Priestley, N. Natale and J. Hoody).
- “Preparation and properties of novel compounds for the treatment of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s” (C. Thompson and S. Bharate).
- “Health plans for employment” (T. Seekins).
- “Novel compounds as acetylcholinesterase inhibitor agents, biochemical tools, and tissue biomarkers” (J. Gerdes, C. Thompson, S. Ahmed and Y. Belabassi).
- SBIR awarded to Good Nutrition Ideas
Kathy Humphries of UM’s Rural Institute of Disabilities and owner of Good Nutrition Ideas was awarded $75,000 from the U.S. Department of Education’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program to access the feasibility of national distribution of MenuChoice. The copyrighted menu program was created and developed through years of research efforts at UM, and provides a platform (for the approximately 84,000 U.S. group homes of adults with developmental disabilities) to improve nutritional health and reduce the probability of individual advancement into a nursing home.
- Rivertop raises $1.5 million
As one of only 10 venture capital deals in Montana during the past 10 years, in November Rivertop Renewables announced a $1.5 million investment from Cultivian Ventures. The funds will stimulate company expansion and the final push to commercialize bio-based detergent builders and corrosion inhibitors patented by UM. Rivertop’s glucaric acid products will initially enter the marketplace as an effective and cost-competitive replacement for phosphates in the $10 billion global detergent market and the $8 billion corrosion and scale inhibition markets. Rivertop currently maintains its headquarters in Missoula, where it employs 15 people ranging from UM chemistry graduates to world-renowned experts in the renewable chemical industry.
- Warren Buffett visit
A number of students from the University’s business administration and accountancy master’s programs had an experience of a lifetime as they traveled to Omaha, Nebraska, and met with legendary investor Warren Buffett.
- Interaction with Congress
U.S. Senator Jon Tester’s 2011 Economic Policy Subcommittee Roundtable on “The Role of Universities and Federally Funded Research in Capital Formation and Job Creation” aimed to establish policy recommendations to better support the successful development of innovative small businesses. As a participant on behalf of the University — alongside colleagues from Montana State University, venture capital firms and Montana technology-based businesses — the Technology Transfer Office discussed new ideas for improving Montana’s efforts to leverage federally funded research as a means of spurring capital formation and job creation. One of the primary takeaways was the idea of gaining a competitive edge through more assertive regional thinking in terms of research, technology transfer and economic development.
- Visiting Scholars Program
As a joint effort with the University of Washington, UM’s Philippe Diaz participated in a visiting scholars program, which allowed for the design and synthesis of compounds with potential use as a novel therapeutic cancer strategy. In addition to the fruitful research relationships built between the faculty, the collaboration allowed for the pre-clinical evaluation of UM patent-pending lead compound NMP192. Promising results laid the groundwork for a budding new partnership between UM and a start-up company in pursuit of additional funds to commercialize this technology.