Lehigh University
Lehigh University

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Building a bridge between research and business

As part of a significant new initiative to support commercialization of research at Lehigh while simultaneously bolstering entrepreneurship education programs, Lehigh has brought on two new powerhouses: Glenn Doell, the new director of the office of technology transfer, and Graham Mitchell, senior research scientist and director of the
entrepreneurship program, who will focus on developing and delivering the entrepreneurship curriculum.

The result will be more effective transfer of the university’s innovations to products and services that benefit the public, greater contributions to regional and economic development, and enhanced educational programs for Lehigh students.

“There are a lot of tech transfer programs in major universities across the country today. We want to incorporate an educational component into our tech transfer office—that’s the differentiating part here at Lehigh,” says Richard Durand, the Herbert E. Ehlers Dean of the College of Business and Economics. “So by hiring people like Glenn in the tech transfer office and Graham, who taught entrepreneurship at Wharton and has a technical background, we’re blending two areas often kept separate.”

Doell, who has come on board thanks to a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, will see to it that the bright ideas of Lehigh professors and students not only to make it on paper, but into production.

As the new director of the office of technology transfer, entrepreneurial research and education at Lehigh, Doell will stimulate Lehigh faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students and staff members to think in a more entrepreneurial way--to create more intellectual property, patenting and licensing in addition to publishing their research.

Commercializing ideas

The technology transfer position is a new one for Lehigh, and it has been funded for two years through an opportunity grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Department of Community and Economic Development in partnership with Ben Franklin Technology Partners. After two years, the university will take on the cost.

"We're helping people on Lehigh's campus to have another outlet for their research productivity," says David Williams, vice provost for research at Lehigh. "Glenn is here to say, 'If you're interested in commercializing your ideas, here I am. If you don't know what that means, I can work with you.'"

Doell comes to Lehigh from Dais-Analytic Corporation, where he was executive vice president of marketing and business development and introduced new products for increasing the efficiency of heating and cooling systems. Earlier in his career, Doell led Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Business Incubator Program, where he assisted dozens of high-technology startup firms with business formation, capitalization and management issues.

"I'm well aware of Lehigh's strength in engineering and science, strength that leads to the many kinds of innovations that create the opportunity for technology transfer," Doell says. "But I was also particularly attracted to Lehigh because the university has not had a technology transfer office up to this point, so it's a startup activity--something in my career I've had a lot of experience with and enjoyed."

Ultimately, Lehigh, the Lehigh Valley and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will all benefit from Doell's knowledge. "This is the commonwealth's attempt to leverage or assure investments they've already made and continue to make in the research we do here at Lehigh,” Doell says. “There needs to be a bridge between the laboratory and the companies that will ultimately develop and commercialize these products and services. I’m here to create that bridge."

Teaching entrepreneurship

Mitchell is equally as enthusiastic to start teaching courses on entrepreneurship at Lehigh because he feels entrepreneurial thinking is an increasingly important part of both the small and large company environment.

“The workplace is changing, and rapid advancements, particularly in information technology, are opening up more career paths for new graduates outside the large multinational corporation,” Mitchell says. “I anticipate that at least three different categories of undergraduate students will find the minor in entrepreneurship particularly valuable: those with a background in family or small business, those who have or later develop ideas for startup business who will be able to utilize what they learn to bring their products to market, and those who will go on to work in large corporations, where they will be more innovative within their organizations, and better positioned to develop and work with innovative partners from the outside.

Mitchell comes to Lehigh from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was the Bladstrom Visiting Professor of entrepreneurship and director of the Wharton Program in Technological Innovation. Between 1993 and 1997, Mitchell was United States Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Technology Policy, where he was appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

Before joining the Clinton administration, Mitchell served as director of planning and forecasting for GTE, where he developed and operated corporate technology planning systems covering GTE’s main businesses in telecommunications, lighting and materials.

The hiring of both Doell and Mitchell are important indicators of Lehigh’s progress toward commercialization of research and entrepreneurship, and the marriage of the two areas puts Lehigh at a distinct advantage.

Posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2004

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