Tech Ventures rethinks its leadership

Jack Brittain
Jack Brittain

After an in-depth review of the program, Technology Venture Development will see a restructuring of its leadership organization.
The role of vice president will be eliminated, and in its stead will be an external advisory board and an internal steering committee that reports to the vice president of research.
Jack Brittain, former vice president for Tech Ventures and Office of the President cabinet member, oversaw the tech development. When Brittain chose to take a sabbatical starting in July 2012, U President David Pershing decided to take a closer look at the organization and efficiency of the program.
Pershing determined there would be a more efficient structure that could be put in place, which would have Tom Parks, vice president for research, overseeing it under his umbrella, said Keith Sterling, the U’s director of communication.
The creation of the board and committee is an important part of the change, Sterling said. The boards are intended to make the process more collaborative and include many different points of view from business leaders in the community.
“Creating these external advisory boards and internal steering committee functions that will bring [the] business community to help navigate the waters of tech commercialization offer some perspective from the private sector and business sector,” he said.
People from the community have been involved in the U’s commercialization process informally for years, but having them on the committee will formalize their roles in the process by causing board members to meet regularly and contribute to the process.
The board and committee members are expected to examine how the development center runs and how it can continue to increase technology commercialization because the development benefits the state as a whole.
“We want to make sure that we are … getting the most bang for our buck, [and] making sure that these businesses are long term and beneficial for the state,” Sterling said.
Glenn Prestwich, professor of medicinal chemistry and leader of the Entrepreneurial Faculty Scholars group at the U, will chair the internal steering committee.
Richard Koehn, president and CEO of SentrX Animal Care, will lead the external advisory board. Koehn is also the former vice president for research at the U.
“These changes are being made to better align current activities with the university’s goals regarding technology commercialization,” Pershing said in a statement. “I believe it is essential we establish an effective structure that will provide the support faculty, staff and students deserve while also ensuring that university technologies are being commercialized for the good of the state.”
The Technology Development Center is part of the Lassonde Entrepreneur Center and is dedicated to the commercialization of technology developed at the U. The Technology Development Center assists with licensing and creating business plans for faculty inventions.
Utah was recently named first in the nation for developing small businesses by Thumbtack.com, citing the Lassonde Center as one of the integral “training and networking programs.” The center is tied to the School of Business and has recently been approved to build a student housing center on campus.