College works toward Center for Technology Innovation
The College of Technology is launching a new initiative focused on technology development and innovation.
The working title for this initiative is the Center for Technology Innovation (CTI), and it will focus on:
- Translating innovative ideas of faculty and students into products or businesses.
- Networking with innovative entities to accelerate technology development and deployment.
- Accelerating the transfer of innovations out of the university and into the marketplace through proof-of-concept development, prototyping, and testing.
- Assisting developers of new technologies while also teaching students about technology innovation and entrepreneurship.
The staff of the CTI will work with other existing University entities to help shepherd good ideas through a complex process to become new products or patents for new or existing companies.
“In the world of business start-ups, the valley of death refers to the high probability that a start-up firm will die off before a steady stream of revenues is established,” said Melissa Dark, associate dean for strategic planning and research in the College of Technology. “There is another very real and equally critical death valley in the invention and innovation ecosystem — getting from a hunch to a well-developed prototype. The Center for Technology Innovation aims to address this need to rapidly move research into proof-of-concept and near-market readiness.”
During Spring 2011, the college surveyed alumni about their experiences with technology innovation in small businesses, start-up companies and patents. What the survey found, Dark said, is that many CoT alumni are innovators, inventors and small business strivers.
Of those who took the survey, for example, nearly one-third have worked for a start-up or early stage company. Of those, about half were the entrepreneurs who started the company. In addition, 67 respondents reported that they have 260 patents in their name.
Dark and others within the College of Technology are using the alumni survey data to help them understand what current students need to know before they graduate. In addition, they have invited successful entrepreneurs to participate in planning sessions to provide their perspectives about what should be included in the center’s offerings.
Allen Johnston, president and CEO of GreenTech Environmental, was one of the planning session participants. As a 1983 graduate of the electrical engineering technology program, he remembers his co-op experience as one where he fully understood how his education prepared him to do something useful. He is hopeful the CTI will offer a similar impact for today’s students.
“There are a lot of really talented young people at Purdue,” Johnston said. “There’s never a more exciting time as when they’re in school. School fosters innovation, and a lot of their ideas are realistic. This center can help create an environment that fosters ideas and puts students on a path to carry them out. I’m confident we’ll see stuff we can use and bring to market.”
In May, Dark and her CTI colleagues led a launch meeting with alumni, entrepreneurs and investors. By the end of the meeting, the group identified several immediate action items that will help the CTI achieve its goals. They include:
- Develop of a clearinghouse for technology products and concepts to connect innovative ideas and industry stakeholders.
- Establish a Market Viability Council with the goals of using market and customer requirements to drive and fund technology development and innovation
- Create product development specification sheets outlining the top 20 research and development projects of the college
- Launch a Start-up Café to serve as a meeting place for students and faculty to present ideas and work to investors, market pundits, advisors and others.
- Establish a prototyping lab where technology innovation can be proven and showcased.
If you have suggestions for the initiative or would like more information about connecting with or supporting the CTI, contact Dark at firstname.lastname@example.org or (765) 494-7661.
Read about other Technology Transfer issues being discussed by the college's Strategic Plan Implementation Team.