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UNR, DRI create firm to spin off technology

John Seelmeyer

The University of Nevada, Reno, and the Desert Research Institute last week took another major step toward moving technology out of their laboratories and into the commercial world.

The two institutions said they created a new corporation, Research Ventures Inc., that will hold equity stakes in companies created to commercialize technologies developed by UNR faculty or DRI scientists.

The nine-member board of the new corporation, which includes investors, attorneys and financial experts, also will serve as an advisory board to the UNR/DRI Technology Transfer Office.

The technology transfer office, itself less than a year old, has identified 70 possibilities in UNR and DRI labs for commercial development.

Those technologies are being protected with patents, copyrights or other measures as the two institutions look for ways to bring them to market.

“Many of these licensing opportunities aren’t ready for prime time yet.

They’re very early-stage opportunities,” said Richard Bjur, director of the technology transfer office.

The board of Research Ventures Inc.

will help UNR and DRI officials decide whether the state itself should create new companies to bring technologies to market.

Another possibility: Licensing agreements in which the two institutions agree to take an equity stake rather than cash.

Start-up companies often don’t have cash to pay licensing fees, but their equity can have a big upside, Bjur said.

“As long as we keep them in-house, these technologies don’t do anyone any good,” the technology office official said.

He said the technology transfer office and Research Ventures Inc.

also hope to assist economic development of Nevada.

“As a state institution, we would like to keep these things percolating in Nevada,” he said.

Volunteer members of the board of Research Ventures Inc.

include:

* Robert C.

Anderson, chair and president, founding member of the Sierra Angels and Vegas Valley Angels and a tax and mergers attorney with Jones Vargas.

* Michael D.

Bosma, CPA, senior manager and technology industry practice leader at Grant Thornton, LLP.

* Michael Fagen, an entrepreneur from Carson City.

* David Garcia, an attorney with Hale Lane Peek Dennsion & Howard.

* Bob Goff, founder and president of Sierra Angels.

* Lawrence “Lawrie” Lieberman, former dean of admissions at Stanford Business School and director of several technology-based companies.

* Ian Rogoff, general partner at Sierra Nevada partners, an investment management company.

* Linda Brinkley, the university’s vice president for research.

* J.

Scott Hauger, the Desert Research Institute’s vice president for government and business relations.

In announcing creation of Research Ventures, UNR officials noted that the school for the third consecutive year has garnered more than $100 million in research funds from outside sources.

Bjur said the technologies studied for commercialization cut across a wide swath of UNR and DRI’s work everything from medicine to electronics.