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Ideas to opportunities

Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office 'invaluable’ to startups


By Jeff Green

As young entrepreneurs, Drs. Ramesh Mani and Dr. Bala Gorityala have many questions as they wade through the business world.

Alumnus Dr. Ramesh Mani
Alumnus Dr. Ramesh Mani
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

The duo launched their startup, Polyamyna Nanotech Inc., two years ago, developing next-generation antimicrobial materials and coatings to kill bacteria and mold.

According to the pair, navigating their way through things such as nondisclosure forms, licensing agreements and patent strategies is much easier thanks to the efforts of Memorial’s Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office (TTCO), which is a member of the Springboard Atlantic network.

The office supports industrial liaison, technology transfer, and commercialization activities at Memorial. Its staff works with entrepreneurs like Drs. Mani and Gorityala to identify resources and facilitate connections with other partners from within the university as well as industry.

Startup support

“The TTCO has helped Polyamyna on various platforms,” Dr. Mani, a Memorial alumnus, told the Gazette.

“These include understanding patent strategies, getting to know various patent law firms in the country, learning about confidentiality and setting up introductory meetings with reputed biomedical companies.

“The TTCO assists young startup companies like us, with work related to marketability and funding sources, provide commercialization support and serve as a liaison interested in commercializing university-developed technologies,” he added. “They also play a vital role to establish industry partnerships and to access critical intellectual property knowledge.”

Enhanced services

The TTCO – part of the vice-president (research) portfolio – recently enhanced its online presence to provider greater supports to entrepreneurs like Drs. Mani and Gorityala, whose company is a current client of Genesis.

TTCO staff include, from left, Dr. Matt Grimes, Kara Strickland, Dr. Paula Mendonça and Carlos L. Sanyer.
From left are TTCO staff Dr. Matt Grimes, Kara Strickland, Dr. Paula Mendonça and Carlos L. Sanyer.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

It has launched a newly designed website with fresh content, bright infographics and a series of educational videos.

Dr. Paula Mendonça, acting director, TTCO, says the new website complements efforts by the university to support the development and success of innovators throughout their careers.

“Memorial’s alumni and researchers’ interest in innovation and entrepreneurship is increasing. In fact, St. John’s is the fastest growing market in Atlantic Canada for startup activity,” she said.

“The new site allows quick access to information about technology commercialization as well as related aspects of innovation, project development and entrepreneurship.”

Dr. Mendonça also says the office champions Memorial’s new creator-owned intellectual property (IP) policy, which encourages researchers to pursue commercialization and continue to cultivate an entrepreneurial culture.

The newly launched site includes frequently asked questions regarding IP and commercialization at Memorial.

Through the Springboard Atlantic network, the TTCO also works with other Atlantic Canadian post-secondary institutions connecting companies to research expertise and resources.

Greater awareness

The office increased its activities over the past couple of years.

The number of companies it met with grew from 136 in 2017-18 to 209 in 2018-19. Its number of internal and academic workshops also increased, from nine in 2017-18 to 31 in 2018-19.

Dr. Mendonca says the new website will help creating greater awareness of the services its team provides to the university community and the important role it plays in supporting students, faculty and staff to work towards bringing ideas to market.

“The new website showcases the TTCO services while providing an additional tool to create, grow and support innovation and entrepreneurship at Memorial.”

From left are Kara Strickland, Dr. Ramesh Mani and Dr. Matt Grimes.
From left are Kara Strickland, Dr. Ramesh Mani and Dr. Matt Grimes.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

For his part, Dr. Mani says the TTCO provides “invaluable guidance” to the university community and he encourages other fledgling startups to seek out its services.

“Their role in the startup community directly influences the growth of employment opportunities in Newfoundland and Labrador, eventually contributing to the province’s economy.”

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