BLACKSBURG, Va., May 21, 2007 – Inventions by Virginia Tech faculty researchers range from technologies that use energy more efficiently and safeguard the electric grid to developments to improve human health, business management, and education.
"Such inventions enhance Virginia Tech's reputation as a place that creates new knowledge, which sets the stage for new innovations to follow,” said Mark Coburn, president of Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties Inc. (VTIP). “We want to make sure such knowledge also contributes to economic development, benefits society, and funds further research,” he said.
To that end, VTIP has hired four licensing associates to maximize return to the university through effective marketing and management of intellectual property.
Greg Hess, a senior licensing associate, manages the commercialization activities of inventions generated in the agricultural and advanced material sciences.
Michael Straightiff, a senior licensing associate, manages disclosures in the fields of optics and lasers, electrical engineering, civil and environmental engineering, energy, and medical devices/drug delivery.
Licensing associate Jacquelyn Reed is managing the portfolio categories of pharma and biotechnology, research tools and diagnostics, learning tools, and design patents.
Licensing associate John Talerico III manages IP created by the Pamplin College of Business and multiple departments within the College of Engineering, including aerospace and ocean engineering, computer science, electrical and computer engineering, engineering science and mechanics, industrial systems, and materials science and engineering.
Prior to joining VTIP, Hess spent 10 years in technology transfer, initially as a senior business development manager with BTG International Inc. and subsequently as a freelance business consultant. Specializing in the areas of plant biotechnology, animal health, crop protection, nutraceuticals, and functional foods, he has evaluated, acquired rights, and licensed various early stage life science opportunities developed at universities and research institutes throughout Europe, North America, and Australia. His industry experience began with the Rohm and Hass Company, where he applied his educational training in plant genetics towards the development of hybrid wheat seed using chemical hybridization agents. Subsequently, while at DNA Plant Technology Corporation, he managed plant breeding programs that incorporated new innovations in biotechnology. Hess then managed the production and distribution of new products, which included a sweet snacking mini-pepper and a genetically modified tomato.
Prior to joining VTIP, Straightiff was a licensing manager at the Technology Transfer Office at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. At Case, he managed a portfolio of inventions from the biomedical engineering, materials science and engineering, electrical engineering, chemistry, and chemical engineering departments. Straightiff has also worked as a patent examiner in Art Unit 3739 at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, where he examined applications in the fields of light, thermal, and electrical applications to the human body. Straightiff holds a B.S.E. in biomedical engineering from Case with a concentration in biomedical instrumentation and devices and an M.P.P. in science and technology public policy from George Mason University. He is a member of the Association of University Technology Managers, the Licensing Executives Society, and the Biomedical Engineering Society.
Reed earned her Ph.D. in molecular developmental biology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine by generating a mouse model of human disease to study the effects of cytokines on pulmonary surfactant homeostasis and cell proliferation. More recently, she studied the effects of inflammatory cytokines on adipose tissue, glucose homeostasis, and neuronal circuits that regulate body weight and food intake. She has several years of experience as a consultant to Hasse and Nesbitt LLC, an IP law firm in Cincinnati, and has written patents involving a broad range of biotechnologies. In addition, she acquired first-hand experience in biotech start-up beginning in 1998 as a co-founder of Intrexon Corporation, now located in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center.
Talerico received his B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Virginia Tech in 2003 and an MBA from the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech in May 2006. During the final year of his graduate program, Talerico worked as an intern for VTIP. He began working full time as a Licensing Associate starting in May 2006.
VTIP was formed in 1985 to identify, legally protect, and market intellectual properties resulting from research at Virginia Tech and to generate income by licensing and other activities resulting from university intellectual property.
“Protecting an idea with a patent allows time for it to be developed as a product,” Coburn said. “Whether we are facilitating the creation of new businesses or licensing an invention to an established firm, it takes time and money to turn a vision into a product or service. A patent makes the process less risky.”
Through their knowledge of various business and scientific fields, the VTIP associates also increase the chance of success by matching ideas with appropriate entrepreneurs.
As an incentive to faculty members to seek patents, they receive half of any royalty proceeds. And their home department or center also receives a share, which can be used for overhead, student support, or wherever a few extra dollars are needed. The rest of the proceeds are returned to VTIP to cover costs, and to be reinvested in university research.