UAB Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship holds launch event

New institute combines commercialization and experiential learning.

Institute_for_Innovation_sThe University of Alabama at Birmingham today officially launched the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE). Approved by the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees in February 2013, this endeavor has been a campus-wide collaboration supported by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development and the Collat School of Business.

The institute is an expansion on the UAB Research Foundation, which manages intellectual property at UAB. In this capacity, the institute will create and foster an entrepreneurial and innovative ecosystem integrating the UABRF’s existing strengths and capabilities, enhancing and facilitating service and technology commercialization. The institute team will also work to create new experiential learning opportunities for students across campus, as well as encourage and cultivate interdisciplinary scholarly research among faculty and clinicians.

David Winwood, Ph.D., CEO of the research foundation, will be executive director of the new institute, and Kathy Nugent, Ph.D., director of the biotechnology program at UAB, the institute’s new managing director.

“The institute will bring a cross-disciplinary technology transfer and academic approach to a new elevated level,” said Winwood. “We will focus on technology based economic development utilizing core academic and research strengths to ensure rapid development of new ideas, products and ground breaking technologies discovered at UAB.”

“Most tech transfer functions add commercialization help for would-be entrepreneurs, but few make commercialization a cornerstone of field-work-based education,” said Nugent. “Toward this end, the IIE will engage faculty and students by creating interdisciplinary approaches to learning that expose students to industry-specific scenarios. We define experiential learning models as real-world projects with commercial potential. In this model, faculty, students work on developing products and technologies from idea to commercialization.”

“The institute represents a wonderful opportunity for UAB, in a multidisciplinary way, to turn intellectual property into new businesses,” said Eric Jack, Ph.D., dean of the Collat School of Business. “The business school is completely on board and will use its skills and expertise to provide the kind of education to researchers and students that gives them the confidence to start new ventures.”

The IIE will expand on joint programs offered by the UAB Department of Biomedical Engineering, School of Business and School of Health Professions where student teams develop potential solutions to clinical needs (prototype devices), write business plans and complete market intelligence research. UAB has also partnered with the Birmingham Business Alliance to launch programs to provide students with access to internships at more than 1,000 Birmingham-area employers.

UAB officially launched the institute on Oct. 1, 2013, with an event featuring Paul Sanberg, Ph.D., D.Sc., senior vice president for research & innovation at the University of South Florida. He is also the founder and president of the National Academy of Inventors, which encourages inventors to file patents, seeks to enhance the visibility of non-profit research centers and mentors innovative students.

“It’s a great honor to be here for the launch of the IIE, which we believe will become a great asset to Birmingham and the national research community,” said Sanberg. “Inventions are more likely to benefit society when they are backed up by smart systems like those that will soon be operating here as part of the IIE. It’s very exciting.”