Program to help commercialize UA inventions

Dr. Gopal Nadkarni

Dr. Gopal Nadkarni

By William Singer, News Editor

The Leading Entrepreneurial Academics into Practice program is looking to help local innovators with the commercialization of their inventions.

LEAP funding helps The University of Akron’s faculty and students teams to develop their inventions and push them through the start-up process.

“We are trying to bring outside entrepreneurs and mentors to work with the faculty using a team approach to help them to commercialize their inventions,” said Dr. Gopal Nadkarni, director of Proof of Concept. POC is an organization housed within UA’s Innovation Practice Center which provides leadership to launch new projects.

According to UA’s innovation webpage, the POC will be led by individuals experienced in business and academia looking to bridge the “valley of death.” The valley of death is a term used to describe the stage where most ideas fall through due to lack of funding, effort and marketing.

“The LEAP program mandate is to try and accelerate innovation regardless of program, discipline, department or college,” Nadkarni said.

“An external advisory board provides the wise counsel and removes bias from the process of selecting the best ‘go-to-market’ inventions from polymer science, engineering, bio-medical technologies and even from Arts and Sciences.

“Some examples of funded projects are improved wound closure glues, smart imaging goggles to detect tumors and a better way to detect electrical cable faults,” Nadkarni continued.

Dr. Nadkarni is hopeful that the revenue stream from LEAP’s efforts can be as successful as similar programs at institutions like MIT within two to three years. He also said IPC is welcoming engineering and business students in order to gain job experience.

Nadkarni and his partner Pat Guaghan will be using their unique expertise in the world of business to help those involved with LEAP.

“My colleague, Pat Gaughan, and I are enthusiastic and passionate about new technologies and creating sustainable businesses. As a commercial strategy and product development manager for a multi-national corporation I have seen how businesses identify, evolve ideas into marketable products through strong customer discovery and development, says Nadkarni.”

“Our experience with finding customers and new markets, introducing new product lines, understanding business fundamentals allow us to give of our experience to help wean new technologies to exit the laboratory. We also believe strongly in a resurgent American economy that rests its hopes on the younger, technically savvy generation that truly ‘gets’ globalization and the new ways of doing business.”

LEAP’s inaugural projects concluded last month, the six projects that were funded are currently in development with their mentors.