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November 8, 2001

Pitt coordinates entrepreneurial activity

As part of a comprehensive approach to technology transfer and commercialization, Pitt recently coordinated its entrepreneurial activities by establishing the Technology Commercialization Alliance (TCA).

TCA will operate in parallel with the Office of Technology Transfer, and will be housed administratively in the Provost's office under George Klinzing, vice provost for research.

"The rich soil of the academic environment nourishes many ideas, some of which may need preparation to flourish in the highly competitive environment of the commercial marketplace," said Provost James Maher. "The University, working in partnership with others, is committed to ensuring that these ideas are appropriately nurtured so that they can grow and prosper into viable businesses."

There will be seven Pitt entities coordinated by TCA:

* The Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence, a regional provider of educational and consulting services to start-up companies and small businesses housed in the Katz Graduate School of Business;

* PantherlabWorks, also part of Katz, a virtual incubator that provides services such as the development of business plans, market research, preliminary patent searches, the identification of potential strategic partners, mentoring and peer advisory resources for investigators and entrepreneurs;

* Entrepreneurial Fellows Center, an education and mentoring program available to CEOs of young technology-oriented companies through Pitt's business school;

* Family Enterprise Center, which supports closely-held and family-held businesses by providing a source for mentors, investors and networking opportunities through the Katz School;

* Small Business Development Center, a federal- and state-supported program in the Katz School that provides management counseling and education services for obtaining research and development funding;

* Swanson Center for Product Innovation, in the School of Engineering, an entrepreneurship engine that integrates four state-of-the-art manufacturing labs, and

* Limbach Center for Entrepreneurship, part of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, promotes medical entrepreneurial knowledge and activities among faculty and students.

According to Klinzing, the alliance recognizes that the focus and mission of each member entity may be different, but that they all share common ground through involvement in economic development and business support services. "The goal of the alliance is to develop a proactive, synergistic process that helps to facilitate the commercialization efforts of many of our faculty, staff and students," Klinzing said.

TCA also is expected to identify and allocate the resources necessary to move ideas from lab to market. Internal resources, such as market research, business plan development, prototype development, mentoring and networking opportunities, will be matched with external resources, including venture capital, financial and legal support and connections to seasoned entrepreneurs and business leaders.

"As a result of TCA's efforts," said Maher, "we will expect more and better disclosures, progress on faculty members' abilities to help identify appropriate commercial partners, and more partnerships with local companies."

Filed under: Feature,Volume 34 Issue 6

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