26 Apr CATI: Transforming technology transfer in Wisconsin
Racine, Wis. – When people think of technology transfer in Wisconsin, they may think of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and the Medical College of Wisconsin; the two premier university–based technology transfer programs in the state. But now there’s a new player in town, bringing businesses and entrepreneurs an exciting option.
The Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation’s technology transfer program, called Commercialization Management Model (CM2), allows corporations to donate intellectual property (IP) to start-up companies and existing businesses. CATI, in partnership with Madison Development Corp., is bringing the program to Dane County in an effort to spur private industry technology transfer.
Jerry Carlson, of K. A. Jones and Associates, consults with CATI on IP/technology valuation. He said participating corporations benefit from the program because they “get to write off the valuation of the donation against current income. It’s a tax break.”
Corporations must pay annual fees on their patented IP but by giving the IP to another company they reduce expenses. “By giving away ‘non-core’ IP, corporations gain focus and are more tightly aimed at the things that they do best,” Carlson added.
The Racine County Economic Development Corporation developed CATI in 2001. According to Matthew Wagner, CATI’s director, the organization’s purpose is three-fold. “[CATI’s purpose is] to provide a technology incubation facility where new firms can economically develop and market products and services, a technology transfer office and an educational program providing project-based learning opportunities to students from high-school age to graduate students,” Wagner said.
Expanding Racine County’s economic base by helping start-up companies acquire donor patents is a key focus for Wagner. Without CATI, start ups would have to pay enormous fees to acquire the IP, according to Carlson. Ram Bhatia, president of RmSys, said “CATI is the best venue for people like me who have the drive, attitude, risk taking but lack financial resources to pursue technology-based, job(s) creating opportunities.”
Bhatia worked with Wagner to acquire an anti-leaching technology. Bhatia describes RmSys, which incorporated in 2003, as a “business concept based on investigating if and how anti-leaching technology can be effectively used for remediation of the environment, with possible applications in ground water remediation, soil remediation, electronics waste remediation and point of source contamination removal.” According to Bhatia, “[RmSys] plans to solicit grants from various government agencies to help cover the costs of technology proof of concept, determine most effective applications, as well as engineer the delivery systems.” Without CATI, Bhatia said he would probably have to go back into the “employment world” instead of running his own business.
CATI manages a patent portfolio valued at nearly $40 million and has acquired donated patents from companies such as Kraft Foods, International Specialty Products and S.C. Johnson & Sons.
Cynthia R. Cauthern, Ph.D. is the Chief Customer Officer at Beacon Technologies, an information technology and business management consulting company and a regular contributor to the Wisconsin Technology Network.