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Kean University

Expanded Office of Technology Commercialization Assists Kean Inventors with Moving Discoveries to the Marketplace

A female student holds a beaker aloft as a female professor looks on.

As research activity at Kean University intensifies, the Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) has expanded to boost researchers’ efforts to move their discoveries into the marketplace where they can benefit the public.

“We’re renewing a spirit of entrepreneurship at Kean,” said OTC head Keith Bostian, Ph.D., associate provost for science and technology. “The office is open for business and stronger than ever before.”

The office recently launched a website and plans to expand its staff and resources for faculty, staff and students interested in turning their ideas into products and services. Additional online resources will be added to the website in the coming months to serve as a comprehensive source of information on innovation and commercialization.

OTC plans to hold workshops, bootcamps, innovation challenges and other programming on intellectual property, entrepreneurship, technology development and commercialization; develop and distribute resources on commercialization policies and procedures; and conduct professional development events. 

“Expanded technology transfer capabilities are crucial to the growth of our research enterprise as the University marches toward Carnegie R2 designation for high-research activity,” said Susannah Porterfield, Ed.D., Kean vice president for research. “As we see more research activity at the University, we’re going to enrich the connection to industry and be proactive in engaging technology partners. This will fuel a cycle of innovation at Kean.”

The new capabilities of the office are being supported, in part, by a $400,000 Enabling Partnerships to Increase Innovation Capacity (EPIIC) grant from the National Science Foundation. Kean will collaborate with a cohort of emerging research universities through the grant program and strengthen support for faculty.

"With the EPIIC grant expanding the long-standing work of Kean's OTC, we are poised to accelerate our participation in New Jersey's innovation economy,” said David S. Birdsell, Ph.D., provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “Exploiting the commercial opportunities that derive from research conducted at the University, we strengthen the research ecosystem overall, attracting more resources, benefiting our scholars, and creating more rapid, positive change for the communities and causes we serve." 

For many years, Bostian has managed Kean’s technology commercialization process from start to finish. The expansion of OTC will add capacity for evaluating technologies that have the potential to be patented or copyrighted. OTC will also spur investment in research, a focus for R2 institutions, through Kean’s financial and resource support, industry financial investment, and faculty time investment in translational research. 

Translating research means commercialization and other ways of advancing scientific observations and approaches developed in the lab into real-world practice.

The first step in the process is to have an idea, said Bostian, followed by a crucial next step.  

“If you think you have an invention, contact the OTC immediately, before any publication or public presentation of it,” he said. “OTC will work with you to submit a patent disclosure form for the invention and begin critical steps to protect the intellectual property.”

Inventions with commercial potential will go to the University’s Intellectual Property Committee for initial assessment, and then to an attorney. Pending the outcome of reviews, OTC may file a patent application, at which point the University can seek out commercial partners to invest in licensing, startup company creation or further development through sponsored research. 

The expanded office will be able to help more Kean researchers think about commercialization in the first place and spark the initial conversations with OTC. Meetings and trips to state inventors’ award ceremonies with small groups of research faculty have already generated interest, according to Bostian. 

“It inspired them to think about where patents could take them,” he said.