Technology Commercialization and Economic Development at the University of Illinois: Progress and Pitfalls
The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign has a tradition of excellence in engineering, the physical sciences, agriculture and a growing commitment to biological sciences. Illinois has major programs in business, the humanities, fine and applied arts, and social sciences. By many measures Illinois, set in a community of 150,000 and 130 miles south of Chicago, is a research powerhouse where faculty and staff conduct research in virtually all fields that is recognized as being at the forefront of each discipline. Despite a long tradition in carrying out basic research, the University had a tepid tradition of technology commercialization. Five years ago, under tremendous scrutiny from State elected officials and the Board of Trustees, this changed with the University making a commitment to expand the University missions in research, education, and service to embrace economic development and technology commercialization. Steps taken to advance this mission included: overhauling of office with responsibilities for protecting and licensing University intellectual property, establishing of a system wide program to assist faculty with start-up companies and provide very early stage angel funding, building and staffing of an incubator, and the building of a research park. These activities form the foundation of our seamless series of resources that enable technology commercialization and these resources are beginning to achieve traction. As part of this active entry into technology commercialization, campus wide conversations were initiated to begin the process of shifting faculty attitudes about the role of technology commercialization as an important activity in which the campus should engage. In the intervening five years we learned many things about technology commercialization, how to start-up companies based on faculty intellectual property and how faculty attitudes shift. In this talk I will discuss the reasons the University of Illinois undertook the mission of technology commercialization, indicate some of our successes, touch on problem areas, and provide insight into the stresses placed on the academy as it embraces technology commercialization as a vital part of its mission.
Charles F. Zukoski is a William H. and Janet G. Lycan Professor. He graduated with a B.A., from Reed College, 1977 and a Ph.D., from Princeton University, 1984. He's been the recipient of:
- NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, 1986
- Fulbright Scholar, Department of Applied Mathematics, University of Melbourne, 1992
- Ralph K. Iler Award in the Chemistry of Colloidal Materials, ACS, 1997
- Alpha Chi Sigma Award, AIChE, 2002
Our work is centered around a series of Focus Areas that we believe are the future of science and technology.
We’re continually developing new technologies, many of which are available for Commercialization.