U spinoff companies aid students, research

Courtney Lewis

After graduating from the University’s neuroscience program in December 2000, finding a job wasn’t a challenge for Scott Schachtele.

Soon after graduation, Schachtele joined up with Neuromics, a Minneapolis-based company where Schachtele’s University colleague had been working.

Schachtele and several University graduates like him have been able to reap the benefits of University research after receiving their degrees and finishing their fieldwork.

Neuromics is one of 11 spinoff companies created in 2000 with the help of University research. The companies do business in areas ranging from biotechnology to the production of skateboard ramps.

In a recent survey conducted by the Association of University Technology Managers, the University ranked fourth out of 142 domestic colleges and universities in spinning off start-up companies.

“This is good news for the University, its researchers and the state,” said Christine Maziar, vice president for University research and Graduate School dean, in a written statement. “It means that our research has tangible outcomes that benefit Minnesotans by
creating jobs and stimulating the economy.”

Research and technology discovered through the University can be transferred to new businesses through the Patents and Technology Marketing department. PTM gave Neuromics a patent for its work with genes to create pain-relief drugs.

Tony Strauss, acting assistant vice president at PTM, said the University began a conscious effort to grow start-up companies from University research approximately a year ago.

“We can help get those technologies transferred out of the ‘U’ into the businesses of the world,” Strauss said of the administrative office.

But parlaying the research and patents into a company takes more than just good science. They need financial support, information from market analysis and viable business plans.

To help with these and other business concerns, 20 students in the Carlson School of Management’s New Business Development Enterprise program often work with the new companies.

Angela Gaare, a second-year master of business administration student at the Carlson School and chief financial officer for the program, said the students can specialize in their personal areas of interest. She said many who begin work in NBDE continue with the companies after graduation.

“This network is a great opportunity to get high-quality students involved in businesses,” Gaare said.

The program takes students approximately one year to complete, but Gaare said the time varies based on the business idea.

Courtney Lewis welcomes comments at [email protected]