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Wake Forest to Assist Seven UNC Schools with Technology Commercialization

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Wake Forest University Health Sciences has established a new company to assist seven universities in the University of North Carolina (UNC) system with technology commercialization, also known as “technology transfer.”

The new company, called Seed Stage Associates LLC, is a wholly owned for-profit subsidiary of Wake Forest University Health Sciences.

"Seed Stage Associates has entered into a contract with the UNC General Administration to provide technology transfer related services to the seven UNC schools in the western part of North Carolina," said Spencer Lemons, director of the Office of Technology Asset Management at Wake Forest.

The firm will serve Winston-Salem State University, the N.C. School of the Arts, UNC Greensboro, UNC Asheville, N.C. A&T State University, Appalachian State University and Western Carolina University.

"Our objective is the development of new products and services that may benefit the public through technology transfer," said Lemons. "Commercialization may be through licensing to existing companies or through the creation of new businesses."

Seed Stage Associates in turn has contracted with Wake Forest University Health Sciences for the part-time services of three professionals in the Office of Technology Asset Management. Lemons said the company also had contracted with an outside consultant, Gina Stewart, Ph.D., of Sage Technology Management Inc., for additional services.

"Together the four of us have 20 years of experience in university technology transfer and ten years experience in UNC system technology transfer," said Lemons. He said the contract is part of the Western Regional Technology Transfer project, which is funded by the National Science Foundation through the UNC General Administration, with matching funds from NC A&T and UNC-G.

"To those schools just establishing tech transfer offices, we will provide education, assistance, training and advice in establishing technology transfer-related services," said Lemons.

"To those with established offices, we will primarily aid them in evaluation, marketing and licensing of new technologies in the life science, medical and software areas." He added, “We think this approach helps to leverage the resources of all of the schools in western North Carolina. We’re very excited about this new opportunity for collaboration.”

Lemons said he hoped the new company will be fully active by Sept. 1.

“This is a timely and efficient mechanism to transfer innovations from faculty and students to applied commercialization activities in their economic region and beyond," said Russ Lea, Ph.D., vice president for research and sponsored programs with the UNC General Administration.

"Seed Stage is prepared to assist our campuses in a manner that is complementary to technology transfer activities at a scholarly enterprise and that is particularly sensitive to the needs of faculty and student innovators.”

Since its founding in 1985, Wake Forest''s Office of Technology Asset Management has brought steadily increasing licensing revenues to the school. In the year ending June 30, 2003, the office brought in $19.3 million in licensing revenues.

The office works with university faculty, students and staff to commercialize novel discoveries and other intellectual property developed at Wake Forest.

Seed Stage Associates will use a similar approach, he said.

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Contact: Robert Conn (rconn@wfubmc.edu) or Karen Richardson (krchrdsn@wfubmc.edu) at (336) 716-4587

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