A popular Internet blog on innovation has published research naming West Virginia University one of the top American universities for attracting private industry support for research.

This is a boost for the University’s strategic plan goal of pursuing greater regional economic development by converting research results into products, industries and jobs.

Peter Drucker, the influential writer, management consultant and self-described “social ecologist,” described innovation as “the specific instrument of entrepreneurship… the act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth.” The new innovation report appearing on Innovation Excellence also serves as a boost for a new Benedum Foundation-funded initiative at the University known as LIINC, or Linking Innovation Industry and Commercialization.

Innovation Excellence is the online home of a global community of professionals in academia and the public/private sectors. With members in more than 170 countries, the network provides a forum for connection and conversation about best practices and proven answers for achieving innovation excellence.

In a lengthy article devoted to identifying the best U.S. universities for innovation transfer, researcher/writer Melba Kurman mapped how much industry funding universities receive per million dollars of federal funding as a representation of the informal interactions between university and industry scientists.

“Out of this group, Duke receives the most industry research funding per million federal dollars, followed by University of West Florida and then West Virginia University,” Kurman wrote.

Kurman argues in her article that industry research funding is one of three factors that should be used in measuring universities’ effectiveness in bringing new innovations forward. The other two factors are the number of papers published and generation of new inventions – two areas where WVU was not among the top 20 institutions that Kurman identified.

Her suggested three measurement areas are a departure from the conventional metrics in use for accessing innovation success that focuses on patents issued, new startups and license revenue earned by university-owned patents.

WVU’s LIINC project is designed in harmony with the University’s strategic plan to accelerate the commercialization of research results and strengthen its regional economic impact by creating new and improving traditional ties to industry and other regional entrepreneurial universities.

Russ Lorince, director of WVU’s economic development efforts, said the positive mention in the Innovation Excellence article supports LIINC’s work that has already expanded university/private industry efforts.

“For example, in November, LIINC hosted an event that brought WVU faculty together with representatives from 22 private companies where defense-oriented product developments are under way,” Lorince said. “This showcase of WVU research drew high praise and interest from private industry.”

He said some interactions resulted in researchers leading industry officials off for spontaneous laboratory tours. Other experiences were called “enlightening and rewarding” by company representatives.

“Faculty response was equally positive,” Lorince said. “It was part matchmaking, part networking, and part social event. But it’s all about building an innovation culture.”

Lindsay Emery, business development manager with LIINC, said the program is planning events similar to the defense-oriented success that will focus on the bioscience and energy fields. She said the goal will remain to bring WVU researchers together with private industry opportunities to push University innovation and create new products and jobs.

“As a land-grant institution with a brand new strategic plan calling for greater community and economic involvement, WVU’s LIINC effort is a natural,” she said.

To read the Innovation Excellence article, go to http://www.innovationexcellence.com/blog/2011/12/14/best-us-universities-for-innovation-transfer/.



CONTACT: Lindsay Emery, WVU Research Corp.
304.293.0391, Lindsay.Emery@mail.wvu.edu

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