Conference highlights Johns Hopkins' leadership in tech transfer

From October 23-25, 110 academicians and researchers from around the world gathered for the 2014 Technology Transfer Society Conference in Baltimore, hosted by the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. Researchers came from across the United States, as well as Japan, China, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, and Greece, among other countries.

Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels kicked off the conference by highlighting the impact of tech transfer on regional development and the potential for schools such as Johns Hopkins to advance research innovations that help solve major global problems.

“As a president of a major research university today, I feel no ambiguity about the importance of tech transfer,” Daniels said to the audience. He went on to highlight efforts to connect research to positive outcomes for the communities and regions that research institutions call home. “There is a clear understanding that universities are critical institutions in a human-capital economy,” Daniels said. “We play numerous roles, not the least of which is taking research ideas both in the basic and applied spheres and translating them into goods, services, and products that can materially contribute to the human condition.”

Daniels indicated that he and Johns Hopkins affiliates at the event would benefit greatly from knowledge sharing among institutions at the conference, further strengthening the Hopkins tech transfer and commercialization base of activity that has steadily increased in recent years. Keynote speakers talked about current and future trends in tech transfer and the study of processes that move knowledge efficiently to useful application in a highly connected research world.

The Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 in the U.S. authorized the movement into the marketplace of government-funded knowledge and technological discoveries made and gathered from universities and research labs. This process, known as technology transfer, changed the dynamics of research and discovery in the U.S. In 2002, the European Union followed the spirit of Bayh-Dole with the Lisbon Agenda, and E.U. member states created similar laws for technology transfer from their universities and national labs.

Carey Business School Associate Professor Reza Djavanshir chaired one of the conference panels on the topic of regional development and joined other Carey faculty and staff in expressing their pride in hosting the event and what it means to Carey and Hopkins. “This conference amplified our school’s reputation among the attendees, and also among experts in this field,” Djavanshir observed,” adding that Carey Business School Professor and Executive Vice Dean Phillip Phan “really led the effort and has launched our school as a focal point of tech transfer and entrepreneurship.”

The majority of the 60 papers presented—chosen from 220 submissions—at this year’s Technology Transfer Society Conference were focused on university-to-market knowledge translations and technology transfer. Fifteen of the presented papers were selected for a writing workshop that was created to cultivate them for potential publication in the Journal of Technology Transfer or possibly in a book that will be published under the mentorship of Phan, Djavanshir said.

Paper and session topics included different mechanisms of knowledge, the importance of technology transfer offices and how they should be structured, and effective methods of creating spin-off companies and business incubators as important vehicles for tech transfer Some papers also addressed horizontal or so called North-South tech transfers from the developed economies to developing or underdeveloped ones.

Three papers were presented by Carey Business School faculty: one explored the school’s Discovery to Market program, which pairs Global MBA students with researchers and inventors, and its contribution in helping to translate and transfer the discoveries made in universities or research labs to market. This was presented by Lecturer Supriya Munshaw and authored by Munshaw and fellow program facilitators Nayoung Louie and Toby Gordon.

Dr. Ashish Nimgaonkar of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Phan presented The Physician Entrepreneur Track and Market Translation: A New Paradigm for Academic Medicine. Djavanshir authored a paper on institutional inertia in technology-driven economic development. “The main theme of this paper was that developing countries spend hundreds of billions of dollars—some succeed and yet many do not,” Djavanshir said. “Due to weaknesses in legal and socio-cultural institutions, they fail to achieve the planned benefits of their technological and entrepreneurship strategies. These countries need to build institutional infrastructure for innovation/entrepreneurship development first, then create consistent strategies for their tech-driven economic development efforts.” The Regional Development panel that Djavanshir chaired featured his own paper and others that focused on the economic impact of business incubators on regional economic development, job creation, wage and tax revenue growth, as well as divergent paths in healthcare technology driven economic development in Europe.

For some participants including Djavanshir, the mission of technology transfer is connected to their own experiences both at Johns Hopkins and in previous phases of their careers. “I am very passionate about the subject of tech-driven entrepreneurship and regional development,” h Djavanshir emphasized. “I am by training a technologist and come from an area of the world that failed to benefit from its tech transfer and economic development efforts. So this area has become my personal area of interest for the past 35 years. I have been studying and following this subject as much as I can, and I see progress on the horizon.”

To learn more about Technology Transfer at Johns Hopkins, visit these web resources:

Carey Business School Discovery to Market:

Johns Hopkins Technology Transfer:

Homewood Intellectual Property and Technology Commercialization Office:


November 6, 2014


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