WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Seed Stage Associates LLC, a wholly owned for-profit subsidiary of Wake Forest University Health Sciences (WFUHS), has won an expanded contract from the University of North Carolina system to provide technology transfer services to 11 of the university’s 16 campuses.
The four additional campuses are UNC Wilmington, UNC Pembroke, Fayetteville State University, and Elizabeth City State University, according to Michael Batalia, Ph.D., managing associate of the firm.
Since 2003, Seed Stage Associates has provided assistance in commercializing technologies and educational materials developed by faculty on the campuses of 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.
“This expansion allows Seed Stage Associates to assist the technology development activities of many of the UNC system schools and to solidify our national reputation as a center of technology transfer expertise,” said Batalia, who also is director of the Office of Technology Asset Management at WFUHS.
Seed Stage Associates has two part-time experts, Gina Stewart, Ph.D., for the western North Carolina campuses and Doug Darr, Ph.D., who recently joined the company, for the eastern campuses. Darr previously worked for Duke University and the N.C. Biotechnology Center, where he was vice president of business and technology development for eight years.
In addition, Seed Stage contracts with WFUHS for the part-time services of Batalia, Dean Stell, associate director of Technology Asset Management, Stephen J. Susalka, Ph.D. assistant director and others to provide a range of services for the 11 campuses. Seed Stage also has agreements for consulting assistance with other nationally recognized technology transfer experts.
Batalia emphasized that Seed Stage tailors its assistance to the individual campus. “Each campus tells us how they would like to use our services and experience and we adapt to meet each campus’s needs,” Batalia said. “No canned process would have been nearly as effective.”
He also pointed out that most of the Seed Stage staff had previously worked within the UNC System, so they are accustomed to the factors that inhibit or influence tech transfer on UNC campuses.
“Extracting the intrinsic value of each technology is the true goal of the program, whether the value is in licensing and commercialization, enhancing research funding, establishing new industry relationships, or increasing faculty satisfaction,” he said. “Gaining patents or other intellectual property protection is a secondary consideration.”
For schools that are just establishing technology transfer offices, Seed Stage provides education, assistance, and training in creating these services. For schools with established offices, Seed Stage helps with evaluation, licensing and marketing of new technologies.
“Appalachian State University licensed its patented novel antibiotic technology to Magellan Biosciences with marketing and license negotiation assistance from Seed Stage,” Batalia said. “Seed Stage is currently working with UNC Asheville on an income-producing license for weather-prediction technology developed at the National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center.”
Seed Stage is guiding other clients through reviewing their first invention disclosures and retaining patent counsel for the first time, he said. “Western Carolina University just filed a provisional patent application – their first – on a novel medical device.”
The Seed Stage expertise is based on the success of Wake Forest’s Office of Technology Asset Management. In the past five years, the office has had 181 invention disclosures, filed 58 patent applications of which 50 patents were issued, licensed or optioned 52 technologies and brought in a total of $130,833,669 in licensing revenues.
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Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which operates the university’s School of Medicine and its other related enterprises including the Piedmont Triad Research Park. The Medical School is ranked 4th in the Southeastern United States in revenues from its licensed intellectual property.