"New Office Facilitates Technology Transfer, Patenting and Licensing"

In an effort to expand its economic development and technology transfer capabilities, the university has transformed the UB Business Alliance into the Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach.

The Alliance, created in 1998, was an attempt to enhance UB's relations with local industry and to provide businesses with a single department to come to with proposals. The biggest problem with the Alliance, according to Provost Elizabeth Capaldi, was that the office did not focus enough emphasis on businesses in the local area.

The new office will integrate all of the Business Alliance's functions, in addition to incorporating an Industrial Liaison Partnership. The partnership will handle relations with corporations, focusing primarily on economic development issues, and will include a new Research and Venture funding division.

The office's main purpose will be to grant UB a greater ability to license its patented developments to the surrounding businesses of Western New York - potentially a sizable source of income for the university and for the local economy.

According to Capaldi, the new office "will improve the commercialization of our intellectual property, which will generate revenue to improve quality throughout the university. It will also improve the economy of Western New York, allowing more students to stay here and work after they graduate if they so desire."

Heading this office will be SUNY Distinguished Professor and Department of Oral Biology Chair Robert J. Genco, D.D.S., Ph.D. Genco was named vice provost of science, technology transfer and economic outlooks by Capaldi and will oversee all the activities of the new office.

"[He] is an outstanding scientist who had experience in commercializing intellectual property," stated Capaldi in an e-mail. "He bridges the scientific community and the business community perfectly."

Genco said the changes were made because "the provost felt that emphasizing the section of technology transfer, and adding more staff to that section, all under her direct supervision, would be best for the university."

Genco considers the office of technology transfer an excellent opportunity for the university's research and development.

"[The new office] will allow UB to be more proactive in transferring the products and services developed at UB into the surrounding marketplace," he said.

Like Capaldi, Genco believes the office can act as a link between the university's students and professional researchers. "There is a need for more students trained in statistics and computer technology. With this new office, we can work with those departments to fulfill those needs."

While UB previously had the ability to patent its own intellectual properties, the new research funding division and services and commercialization divisions make the office a unique opportunity, both for the university itself and for the local business sector.

"We had a technology transfer office that helped faculty get patents and licenses," Capaldi stated, "but we did not have the research venture funding division or the services and commercialization divisions. These latter divisions will help bridge the gap between having an idea and actually producing a business from that idea."

The three divisions of the Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach will function as such:

Intellectual Property Division: Typically, the university functions as a research center for the development of technology for the private business sector. All patenting and licensing of inventions developed at UB will funnel through this division.

Research and Venture Funding Division: Consisting of the Center for Advanced Technology and the UB Technology Transfer Funding, this branch will oversee disbursement of funds throughout UB's research programs.

Services and Commercialization Division: This section will consult with external industry, commercialize intellectual property, start an industrial partners program, assist faculty in starting businesses and develop business spin-offs from the university in general.

Genco emphasized the import of the office for the greater Buffalo region as well as UB.

"There is a significant chance that technology transfer in Western New York is going to improve considerably," he said. "New research discovery development, patenting and then licensing or selling them in Western - and all of - New York will be made far easier."