Eye on Education

Columbus Business First: Ohio State University Commercialization Chief Departs


Oliver Jeffrey/IITA / Flickr

Brian Cummings, the guy charged with boosting Ohio State University’s licensing income from university research, is out after just two years, Columbus Business First reports:

The surprise move came a week after the OSU Office of Technology Commercialization released its annual report for the year ended June 30 showing that activity such as patents, licensing deals and startup companies have leaped over the past two years. But revenue from past and new deals combined continued to stagnate.

[Read more here.]

Cummings, Ohio State’s vice president for technology commercialization, resigned “to seek other opportunities,” a university official told the Columbus Dispatch.

Cummings’ departure comes amid a statewide push for colleagues and universities to make more money off of the research they do.

The Ohio Board of Regents issued a report last year with the goal of improving “the technology transfer pipeline to turn research innovation into the next great products and services in the market.”

In plain English, instead of donating research to “science,” students and researchers are encouraged instead to put a price tag on it and mass-produce it. The hope is that along the way, that sort of commercialization will create jobs and transform from an educational venture into an economic one.

But a 2012 survey from Association of University Technology Managers showed that most Ohio colleges fall short on most measures of research commercialization compared to other colleges nationwide.

Cummings was part of Ohio State’s effort to turn that trend around, Columbus Business First reports:

For years technology commercialization was a sort of cast-aside at Ohio State, when state laws made it harder to own stakes in companies and the research mindset was more anti-commercial. The tech commercialization office had dwindled to two people in 2001 and was tucked into a west campus office park. The school has always made more money from the sales of Buckeye-themed merchandise.

When Ohio State made a commitment to turn it around, Cummings was recruited away from the University of Utah, which in fiscal 2010 made $37.5 million from its technology, triple the previous year.



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