DURHAM – Duke University is restructuring its technology transfer operations in a move the institution refers to in a statement as “sweeping.”
The university aims to enhance the ability for its faculty and staff to commercialize their research while simultaneously spurring additional economic opportunity in the Triangle, it says.
The initiative is known as the Research Translation and Commercialization effort, or RTC, and will complement the Duke Science & Technology fundraising campaign that seeks to recruit research faculty and boost corporate partnerships.
“The university of the next century doesn’t just educate and discover, it helps drive the American economy by bringing new innovations to the marketplace,” said Duke University President Vincent Price in the announcement. “We are investing Duke’s resources and building new partnerships with donors and investors to raise our research and our commercialization to new levels.”
The changes include a restructureing of Duke’s Office of Research. Beginning July 1 it will become the Office of Research and Innovation. A national search for a new leader for the office is underway.
The office will include multiple focus areas:
- Research Administration
- Scientific Integrity
- Translation and Commercialization
- External Partnerships
The office plans to expand its external partnerships, aiming to increase efforts to partner with corporations on research projects, and boost corporate recruitment of Duke graduates.
R. Sanders Williams, the interim vice president for research, said in a statement that the RTC will play an important role in raising funds to support endowed professorships that will benefit faculty for pursuing entrepreneurial efforts and their research and teaching. The office will also provide additional flexible research spaces for important work, said Williams. “We need space for research that is still not-for-profit Duke research, but would then become an idea that is competitive in the marketplace,” Williams said. “We need flexibility and speed.”
Williams in January succeeded Lawrence Carin, who left Duke to become the provost of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia.
This new structure and the concurrent campaign to boost funding and investment, emerged from a study conducted by by university leadership and the Board of Trustees. It also ncluded what the university referred to as a “campus-wide conversation with research leaders about creating a more robust, focused effort to bring the best Duke ideas into licensing agreements or startup companies.”
“Duke’s discoveries and inventions can benefit society best and make the world a better place if they move out of the university and the academic journals and into the wider world, and that usually requires commercialization.” Williams said. “We are going to be engaging more deeply with the private sector to speed up that process.”