PULLMAN — The WSU Research Foundation and The University Funds, a venture capital fund and business accelerator, announced Thursday, April 30 that they have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on the creation of new ventures based upon research at WSU.
The primary purpose of the collaboration is to accelerate successful commercialization of intellectual property developed at WSU with The University Funds using its venture capital model in tandem with its business launch process.
“We are pleased to be a launch partner with The University Funds,” said WSU President Elson S. Floyd. “It is critical to the mission of WSU as a research university that we work with the commercial and capital sectors to bring the benefits derived from public investment in fundamental research at WSU to society in general.”
John Gardner, vice president for economic development and global engagement at WSU, said, “Our strategy for transferring technology into the marketplace centers around working with the most capable entrepreneurs, seeing them as partners. The University Funds will assemble a team of some of the best our state has to offer utilizing a planned $50 million initial venture fund.”
“The model put forward by The University Funds is intriguing and when fully implemented may well provide an efficient commercialization route for some of the truly ground-breaking research being conducted at WSU,” said Keith Jones, executive director at the WSU Research Foundation.
WSU is one of eight Western U.S. research institutions working with The University Funds. Seattle area entrepreneurs and WSU College of Business alumni Jim Torina and Pat Murphy are two of the founders of The University Funds, which they refer to as “a hybrid business accelerator and seed-stage venture fund.”
“It was through my relationship with WSU as an alumnus advisor and benefactor that prompted the vision for launching our venture,” said Torina, the chief executive officer and co-founder. “It was evident that significant innovations are being developed from WSU’s applied research, but the necessary combination of entrepreneurial experience, structured business formation processes and adequate commitments of equity capital was not available to most commercialization opportunities.
“This partnership leverages the substantial startup experience of our partners to benefit the university, the professors and graduate students generating the research, and the people of the state of Washington who are helping to fund the research. And of course we will be creating jobs and wealth-building opportunities for graduates of WSU and other regional universities,” Torina said.
About WSU’s Economic Development Effort
Soon after assuming the Presidency of WSU, Elson Floyd reorganized the administration, creating an office and vice president for economic development. Charged with leveraging the university’s intellectual and real assets to boost the state’s economy, the office works to find new ways to carry out this legacy mission of land grant universities nationwide. An important part of this effort is the WSU Research Foundation, a non-profit Washington corporation that facilitates the efficient transfer of technology, proprietary information and materials to the private sector for the purpose of increasing the impact of research conducted at WSU. For more information about the research foundation, visit www.wsurf.org.
About The University Funds
The University Funds is a new venture development firm that fully integrates seed-stage funding with a managed business formation process for creating high potential portfolio companies from research-based intellectual property (IP) licensed from IP Partners. The organization’s mission is to create an optimal eco-system that supports the entire commercialization process from the lab to the marketplace while creating equitable returns to all stakeholders. The organization targets its venture fund investments at innovations within the life sciences, medical devices, plant & animal sciences and green technology sectors. For more information, visit www.theufunds.com.