U conference focuses on small-business deals

Robyn Repya

University officials and members of the local business community met in the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs on Wednesday night to discuss strategy and creative business partnerships.

The event attracted more than 250 people and featured panel discussions, workshops and speakers – including University President Mark Yudof.

A main focus of the event – sponsored by The Collaborative and Minnesota Technology Inc. – was technology transfer, commercializing technology developed through the University.

Diane Palmquist, CEO of the Dinkytown-based software company Archemedia Inc., attended the event to learn about resources the University has to offer local businesses.

“I came to this event to learn about technology transfer and specifically about intellectual property,” she said.

In the software business, Palmquist said, the technology itself is considered intellectual property. The speakers also discussed patents for pharmaceuticals derived from University research.

Mike Moore, director of health technologies in the University’s Patent and Technology Marketing Office, spoke about how to make deals with the University through sponsoring research.

He said the key to a successful partnership is to understand both the company’s and University’s perspectives and primary goals.

Yudof said his primary goal in this exchange is to bring research money to the state while still maintaining the University’s mission and integrity.

“The work that is done at the ‘U’ has a large bearing on the state’s economy,” he said.

Yudof said he was trying to impress on the audience that University graduates are the greatest resource the University has to offer the state.

To promote University student partnerships with local businesses, the Carlson School of Management and the Center for Entrepenurial Studies kicked off their fifth annual Business Plan Competition at the event.

Keith Mikkelson, a Carlson School student, was enthusiastic about the competition.

“The purpose is to foster the commercialization of technology from the University while allowing

MBA students to get involved in both supplying our expertise and learning in the process,” he said.

Yudof talked about other ways the University tries to promote growth in areas that will benefit the state’s economy.

The University has been focusing on stimulating the areas of study related to computer science and biology to supply the state with research.

“We’re doing 90-some percent of the research done in the state,” said Yudof.

Yudof also said that while the University will continue to work to supply research, someone has to apply that research. Many have taken up the challenge – 17 University-related companies start in 2001.

But Yudof said more could be done with local businesses, to the benefit of both parties.

“We’ve come a long way, but we have a long way to go,” he said.