Arkansas Researchers Gather for Retreat Focused on Collaboration

by Mark Carter  on Monday, Aug. 5, 2013 12:00 am  

UA researcher Ralph Henry, co-founder of Innovate Arkansas firm InterveXion Therapeutics, leads a session on academic startups with IA adviser Jeff Amerine, left, and Jerry Adams of the Arkansas Research Alliance. (Photo by Mai Nguyen)

"Many of the primary inventors of new technologies here at UAMS are unfamiliar with the commercialization process, and this retreat provides a unique opportunity for them to learn about and understand these processes," he said. "Additionally, commercialization is often seen as contrary to pure research, and our retreat helps to bridge the gap in thinking between researchers and commercialization."

Scientific research can’t do any good just sitting on a shelf in a lab.

"Many of the most innovative medical technologies are published in medical journals and periodicals, which is great. However, it isn’t until a commercial company invests in the technology and brings it to market that the public is able to actually benefit from the improvement in medical care," he said.

Amerine thinks the retreat served another purpose as well: to identify new areas for cooperation and strengthen relationships.

"The key take-away for me was mostly that this event was a very fruitful opportunity for some creative collisions between researchers and staff who are engaged in or open to engage in the commercialization process from across the state," he said. "I learned a lot and made some new friends. These sorts of events reinforce the critical connection between education, innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development."

Chow credited the success of the retreat to strong support from the Research Alliance and the technology licensing offices at each of the participating universities, as well as the "active participation and willingness to share experiences by all the attendees at the meeting."

Two retreats are on the books; each was well received and considered a success. The first retreat included about 40 attendees weighted toward school administrators. Reeves said the 55 or so attendees this year included more faculty members. Continued growth may force her to change the way the retreat is planned.

"We didn't have a formal application process; we just asked deans and others who know faculty members who they thought would be interested," she said. “We'll probably have to go to a formal application process in the future."



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