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September 23 - 24, 2022 | Sheraton Salt Lake City

Paul J. Corson
Deputy Director & Senior Director of Innovation, PIVOT Center, University of Utah

Innovation Management - Maximizing the Commercial Impact of University Inventiveness

The University of Utah’s PIVOT Center created Greenhouses, a wholly new approach to supporting transformational research and increasing commercial impact, as part of its Innovation Management strategy. Much like plants require air, water, and soil to grow, invention requires ideas, equipment, and investment. PIVOT’s Greenhouses provide a controlled environment to support the growth of invention.   

Greenhouses are managed by successful entrepreneurs and industry leaders who partner with University researchers and private sector stakeholders to identify innovation opportunities. Working together, they create research plans based upon commercialization pathways and then deploy internal funding to support technology development.  

PIVOT’s Greenhouse approach completely upends conventional tech transfer. Traditionally, tech transfer offices waited for disclosures from campus, then explored options for protecting intellectual property, looked for applicable markets, and tried to identify potential licensees. That model is reactionary and transactional, requires licensees to assume massive risk, and leaves offices highly dependent upon financial windfalls. The overall result has been poor at best.    

Greenhouses address tech transfer’s systemic flaws by employing highly successful techniques used by entrepreneurs to reduce the time and risk associated with bringing ideas and products to market.  Identifying market demands and customer preferences early, and then targeting research and resources proactively, concentrates the focus on reducing technology risk, while simultaneously reducing market and business risk.  

For nearly three decades, Paul has led entrepreneurial initiatives in the United States, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia.  His focus cuts across the public and private sectors, as well as NGOs and higher education.  Paul has held leadership roles in startup companies, developed and implemented public policy at the federal level for the Secretary of Commerce and the White House, and spurred technology commercialization, access to capital, and business formation in higher education.

At PIVOT, Paul has facilitated the launch of dozens of companies and pioneered efforts to reimagine traditional technology transfer.  Previously, Paul oversaw efforts to launch and build the Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the University of California Office of the President. At the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), Paul served as Deputy and Acting Director and launched and managed the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.