Technium Crunches Big Data to Match Entrepreneurs with Researchers
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be working on to sponsor venture creation,” Van says. “These are the kinds of scientists you could build a lab around. Sometimes, they need help finding who those people are.”
The University of Nevada Las Vegas is a customer, and Technium is doing test cases with some corporate innovation groups, Van says. Additionally, law firm Ballard Spahr has signed on as a strategic partner and has invested $75,000 in Technium.
Van says the idea to form Technium came from his days at the University of Texas at Austin, where he worked with the entrepreneur-in-residence at the McCombs School of Business and as a founder of the UT Discovery Fund. “I experienced how rough that process can be,” he says, referring to the process of commercializing institutional patents. By the time an entrepreneur hit the 100-day mark, he says, deals would often fall through.
“That’s the ideal timeframe any entrepreneur wants to get a deal done,” he says. “Corporate partners get tired; something else comes up.”
Universities and related institutions seek to better leverage their faculty and student research. UT, for example, has student accelerators and other programs to promote commercialization and, this year, opened up a “Foundry” program in the College of Fine Arts to promote collaboration between the arts and sciences.
Still, private sector executives say they often find the process of startup formation working with university intellectual property to be opaque and cumbersome. To try to recapture the opportunity of a few potential Googles, Van says firms like Dominion Harbor have stepped in to try to make those interactions blossom into meaningful relationships. “None of them focus on new venture creation,” he says. “It’s just pure licensing.”
Going forward, Van says, Technium wants to mine data sources beyond patents to include scientific papers and the like. “We want to start targeting people, the important scientists you need on your team,” he says. “The patents are a proxy for the right people.”