Resource Spotlight: The Shipley Center for Innovation
Technology Commercialization Clinics (TCC), like the NYS STLC, are located in at least six research institutions throughout the state to facilitate the transformation of university research into commercially viable products or processes. This commercialization effort can in turn create businesses and jobs contributing to New York’s economy. One such TCC, located at Clarkson University in Potsdam, is the Shipley Center for Innovation. The Center works with student and faculty technologies from Clarkson and also has formal agreements with St. Lawrence University and Canton-Potsdam Hospital to provide commercialization services to them. They work with other regional innovators as well.
The Center creates teams of “Shipley Interns”, Clarkson students from both the School of Business and the School of Engineering. These interns are vetted through a formal interview process and report to the Deputy Director of the Shipley Center, Matt Draper
. The teams, called SWOT (students working on technology) Teams consist of two advanced students from each of the schools, creating a unique interdisciplinary program. These teams are overseen by experienced staff from the Center including a recognized scientist/innovator/entrepreneur and an MBA.
The teams seek to further each innovator’s commercialization process through a variety of services such as developing feasibility reports, preparing business models, developing pitch presentations, and creating prototypes through the rapid prototyping company at Clarkson’s Peyton Hall Incubator. The Clarkson TCC also educates the innovators on networking, intellectual property, and other necessary skills. The Center focuses on taking innovators from the idea stage through market entry when they then transition the innovators to the Reh Center for Entrepreneurship
In addition to commercialization work focused on Clarkson and affiliate technology, the Shipley Center has been able to work with 12 external projects. The process for all innovators interested in utilizing the TCC’s services starts with approaching the Center to present an idea. Innovators must meet some qualifiers. Projects must originate from a regional resident, defined as a resident of St. Lawrence County or the province of Ontario. Also, projects must pass an initial screening by Center staff regarding market feasibility such as market size and target customers, technological feasibility, economic impact, and educational implications.
Due to the combination of engineering and business backgrounds provided by the Center, projects will include both business and technical feasibility studies. The final deliverables are combined into a final presentation and report encompassing a complete analysis with recommendations based on data. Innovators will receive sound advice whether to go forward as is, to revise their current idea, or, in some cases, not to pursue further. Technology commercialization is a long and arduous process but the goal of the TCC is to provide innovators with all the necessary analysis and information to make an informed decision about the future steps to take with their project.
With this in mind, the Center focus in defining success is on two equally important outcomes. They are success in a business sense and beyond that, education. They measure commercialization success in number of patents issued, funding raised, jobs created, and ultimately products/services sold. Equally important, they focus on the innovator because supplying him or her with the skills necessary for successful commercialization ensures the innovator’s ability to repeat the process with each subsequent idea. This, in turn, builds a professional network in the region capable of ensuring a lasting innovative ecosystem.