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Global 1000 Companies vs. the Best University Startups
May 21, 2013 at 7:52 AM
Every time I attend a conference the two speakers I want to see always seem to be presenting at the same time in different rooms. The University Startups Showcase and Conference in Washington D.C. was no different. The conference is dedicated to connecting university startups with VCs, angel investors, SBIR program managers and Fortune 500 technology scouts. Annually, universities receive $35 billion from the federal government to conduct cutting-edge research from which universities create approximately 600 university startups each year, according to the National Council on Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer (NCET). This year the conference started a showcase track to highlight the best 100 university startups and UNC Charlotte spin-out CanDiag, Inc. was one of them.
The conference has three main focuses: 1) highlight best practices in university commercialization and startup formation which featured presentations by Vanderbilt, UPenn, University of Illinois, Georgia Tech, Michigan and others; 2) Global 1000 corporate presentations by technology scouts from Schlumberger, Northrop Grumman, Johnson and Johnson, Lockheed Martin, Samsung and many others; 3) Presentations by University Startups.
I chose to spend the majority of my time learning about what the Global 1000 corporations are looking for and how startups can best connect with them. Starting a company is hard enough, but figuring out how to connect with a big potential corporate client can be even more challenging. The following are some of what I consider to be the more interesting observations from the conference.
From Venture Capitalists – North Carolina doesn’t need to look at Silicon Valley, Boston or New York for best practices in creating an entrepreneurial economy. North Carolina needs to look at what small countries like Israel, Australia and Ireland are doing to develop their ecosystem.
From a Schlumberger Technology Scout – We seek to identify early technologies through startups coming out of business plan competitions and university incubators.
From the National Science Foundation – University technologies that come through the I-Corp program have a 60% chance of receiving a SBIR commercialization grant, which is 3x greater than those that don’t participate in the program.
Devin Collins is Assistant Director of Business and Entrepreneurial at UNC Charlotte’s Charlotte Research Institute and is responsible for accelerating technology commercialization and collaborations with industry, government and academia.
Based at the North Carolina Research Campus a $1.5 billion private-public venture, Mr. Collins provides commercialization assistance to the eight university partners. At UNC Charlotte, Mr. Collins generates opportunity assessments on research for the patent committee and assists in developing university start-ups. He also manages the Charlotte Venture Challenge a regional (NC, SC, TN and VA) start-up competition designed to commercialize innovative technologies and accelerate early-stage high-growth companies through opportunity assessment workshops, mentoring and resource connections.
Previously, Mr. Collins was a strategy consultant with RAM Consulting, Inc. where he worked with domestic and international small-to-medium enterprises for development financial services. Prior to joining RAM, he founded Innervate Systems, an early-stage new venture creation services company and BrainGoals a brain fitness product development company.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Collins worked on internationalization and foreign direct investment projects in Europe while at the Camera di Commercio Italiana in Trento, Italy. He also served as a visiting scholar in a Balkan Economic Development Program.
Mr. Collins received his undergraduate degree from Babson College and his master’s degree from American University.