Message From The Interim Executive Director


Successful Commercialization Requires A Community

Many experts believe that throughout recorded history collective human knowledge doubled approximately every 100 years up until around the year 1900. After this point, this doubling rate began to rapidly increase. It is now estimated that human knowledge doubles every 13 months, with the pace only continuing to quicken.[1]

This exponential growth in information has led to an explosion in new disciplines of study. According to the Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity, there are now over 4,000 recognized academic specializations, with this number only continuing to grow.[2]

With this proliferation of scientific knowledge it is becoming ever more difficult for university technology transfer offices like Technology and Venture Commercialization (TVC) to efficiently evaluate, de-risk, and successfully commercialize the increasingly diverse inventions they receive by themselves. A few years ago, our office realized one of the most efficient ways to successfully manage this growth in multifarious discoveries was to create an evergreen network of external experts from as many fields of study as possible with whom we could rely upon to assist us in this exciting, yet diverse work. To help build such a network, we launched our Commercialization Engine Committee program in 2011.

The goal of the Commercialization Engine Committee is to receive advice and guidance on U technologies from individuals with experience in a diverse range of industries and disciplines. Members began making important contributions to the advancement of various U inventions not long after its formation. Because of this, and to intensify its impact, we made it an office-wide priority to expand the committee’s membership by 800 this year. I’m happy to report that we exceeded this goal. Nearly 900 external experts were added to the committee by the end of June.

TVC's Interim Executive Director James Thompson

Members of the Commercialization Engine Committee were also essential in TVC achieving its second office-wide goal this year: meeting 55 commercialization milestones. Achieving milestones adds considerable value to U technologies. Key value inflection points such as finding a problem/solution fit, creating a product development roadmap, engaging with qualified management, or securing funding move U technologies one step closer to commercialization. The 63 milestones various U technologies achieved this year simply could not have happened without the contributions and efforts of dozens of our Commercialization Engine Committee members. That is why for fiscal 2017 we plan to utilize this committee even more to achieve 74 milestones, nearly 20 more than the number we set for ourselves this year.

Key as it is, the Commercialization Engine Committee is only one of the many groups we are fortunate enough to work with. As one of the leading articles in this report makes clear, there are many innovative groups on campus that have been instrumental in the success of commercialization at the U. They are a major reason why this University has become so synonymous with entrepreneurism and innovation.

Each of these groups on campus, as well as the Commercialization Engine Committee, fill a unique but interconnected niche that together produces a total effect on commercialization that is greater than the sum of the individual contributions. This synergistic effect is why the U has been successful in the area of commercialization and is why with its recent surge, commercialization at the U faces a bright future.

Finally, if you are a member of the Commercialization Engine Committee I would like to personally thank you for your support and assistance in helping TVC accomplish key commercialization milestones and evaluate hundreds of U innovations. THANK YOU! If you are not currently a member, I invite you to join. Come and be a part of this amazing work to help TVC and the U translate the exciting innovations developed at this great university and make an impact in our society.

Return to Report Home Next Article: 2015 By The Numbers

[1] David Russell Schilling, “Knowledge Doubling Every 12 Months, Soon to be Every 12 Hours,” Industry Tap, April 19, 2013, accessed July 28, 2016,

[2] William B. Dabars, “Disciplinarity and Interdisciplinarity: Rhetoric and Context in the American Research University” PhD diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 2008, ProQuest/UMI (3347020).