UNR office to forge new ties with business

The University of Nevada, Reno is expanding its office for commercializing research in an effort to open its doors wider to business.

The Technology Transfer Office, which now helps both UNR and the Desert Research Institute move research out of their labs and into the marketplace, is being renamed the Office of Enterprise and Innovation.

The newly-named office will have four functions, all designed to forge stronger ties between the university and industry.

“It’s about change, the change taking place in Reno and in northern Nevada,” said Mridul Gautam, UNR’s vice president of research and innovation. “To serve as an engine of economic development is part of our land grant mission to make peoples’ lives better.”

The school is now conducting a search to hire for a new position, an assistant vice president, to manage the office, which will be spread out between the university campus and the new Innovation Center located in what was once called the Sinclair Building in midtown.

The new Office of Enterprise and Innovation will continue to do the work of the existing Technology Transfer Office, which primarily tries to protect and commercialize intellectual property developed at UNR and DRI, including procuring patents and launching startup businesses based on the technology.

The new office is adding the Nevada Center for Applied Research, or NCAR, to be located at the 25,000-square-foot Innovation Center, now undergoing renovations and expected to open in August.

NCAR will open up and facilitate the use of the university’s many labs — such as the Nevada Proteomics Center at the School of Medicine — to businesses for their own research purposes.

“We will make the labs available to industry,” said Gautum. “It’s a new program and it will report to the Office of Enterprise and Innovation.”

Gautam said some of the school’s labs are now used by outside researchers on an ad hoc basis and that NCAR will formalize a uniform process.

“We’ll put a fee for service in place and the office can facilitate that whole transaction,” said Gautum. “Hopefully, we’ll have a single-pay contract.”

The office hopes to fund NCAR through an application to the Knowledge Fund, the state fund for research commercialization.

The office will also add a corporate relations component in an effort to attract new business to the area, said Gautum.

“We want to have someone talking to new businesses and the goal is to bring folks from the (San Francisco) Bay Area who have capital already,” he said. “Why pay three times more for everything in the Bay Area when you can locate in Reno?”

Finally, Nevada Industry Excellence will come under the Office of Enterprise and Innovation umbrella. NVIE, which acts as a business resource for local manufacturers, already reports to Gautum, but will report to the new assistant vice president and will relocate to the Innovation Center downtown.

“We want to not only respond to industry but to be a part of it,” said Gautum.


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