Dushyant Pathak, associate vice chancellor of research and executive director of Venture Catalyst at UC Davis offers Comstock’s his insight into tech transfer. For more from Pathak, check out “Limits to Launch” in our December issue. Sign up for our newsletter and we’ll email you when it’s available online.
What’s the biggest change in your industry in the past year?
Perhaps the biggest change evidenced in the last year is the increased focus within the University of California on supporting and directly enabling campus-based technology innovation and professional entrepreneurship. Driven by her strategic vision, UC President Janet Napolitano has created a new centralized Innovation & Entrepreneurship Office reporting directly to her, and this enhanced and uniquely engaged support for innovation across the UC system coincides with a statewide reinvigoration of entrepreneurship and investment in technology commercialization as an engine of economic growth. This energy is exemplified by the ground-breaking investment made by the California State Legislature, through Assembly Bill 2664, to expand innovation and entrepreneurship infrastructure within the University of California with the objective of stimulating and driving regional and statewide economic impact. The impact of this investment is already evident in driving economic growth related outcomes.
What do you foresee as the biggest change on the horizon in the year to come?
It is increasingly evident that the general public is demanding direct and meaningful benefit in their lives from the higher education sector. It is no longer sufficient — though it remains necessary — to demonstrate generalized benefit to society from an educated citizenry. While education and research will remain important, we will see an increased expectation from higher education to deliver enhanced workforce preparation, increased technology commercialization and a direct linkage to the creation of quality jobs. This will be a particularly high expectation from public and land grant universities.
A tangible way in which universities can prepare students with 21st century job skills, drive regional economic competitiveness and bring life-changing innovation into people’s lives is through propelling cutting-edge academic research into the marketplace by a greater focus on more efficient and effective technology transfer processes, and by fostering a campus culture that embraces community-engaged innovation and societal impact from university research. We can expect senior university administration and research leadership at the most forward looking universities in the country to elevate the visibility of — and to focus on — university drivers of innovation as a key element of remaining relevant within a changing world.
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