By Samantha Bradsky | Reporter
Founders of Baylor’s Lab to Market (L2M) Collaborative saw a fatal flaw in the technology production in universities: more than 95% of the time, it never leaves the walls of the university.
“Universities do really well in developing technology and creating technologies,” Todd Buchs, L2M co-founder and assistant vice provost for Research, said. “That’s what universities do. They’re inventors and they have a lot of faculty researchers, but what doesn’t go well in most universities is getting [the technology] out of the walls of the university and into the marketplace.”
The remedy to keep Baylor from being a part of the staggering majority of uncommercialized university technology creators is L2M.
“What we’ve decided to build here is a collaborative called Lab to Market Collaborative where we, Baylor, remain the inventor,” Buchs said. “We’re the ones that produce the technology, and then we teamed up with WAVE to move technology into the marketplace.”
Waco Ventures (WAVE) is an independent company that partners with selected partner companies, providing funding and aiding in the commercialization of new products.
“We think about what it takes to build a successful company,” Allen Page, co-founder of WAVE, said. “It takes talent, technology and funding to achieve that objective. When we first started working with Baylor, the first thing that we noticed was that there was so much technology here that had been developed.”
Page and his partner, Dr. Brian Woods, emphasized that with the right mix of talent and technology, the funding always comes.
While L2M and WAVE teams are holding off on discussing the specifics of new projects, Buchs said that students and faculty members can expect advancements in the aerospace industry, professional sports, medical devices and life sciences.
Along with commercializing Baylor-made products, some of the main goals of L2M are to achieve R1 research recognition and encourage student involvement. An R1 research university signifies the highest level of research activity among universities.
“Everything we do is toward the president of Baylor’s R1 mission,” Matthew Brantley, director of Technology Commercialization and Industry Engagement, said. “Through our industry-facing service centers, our Lab to Market, we get a lot of student involvement — both at the graduate and undergraduate level — by giving them hands-on opportunities in real technologies with real industry partners and real problem-solving goals.”
Bradley Norris, director at the Hankamer School of Business, stressed the student opportunities further.
“We have internships as a part of Lab to Market,” Norris said. “We have roughly 15 interns right now, and it’s a growing pool. There’s my technology entrepreneurship class available to anybody across campus, both grad and undergrad, that are participating in the process. Of course, the research is not always coming from the faculty; it sometimes comes from the students.”
“The new VP of engineering at one of our recent startup companies, Verifi Technologies, is a recent Baylor Ph.D. graduate,” Brantley said.
Monica Vardeman, L2M’s administrative associate, invited students to contact her via email if they want to know more about getting involved.
“It’s about how we can impact society in a positive way and be a global leader in that,” Buchs said. “We think we’re onto something here based on this process and who we have involved in it. It’s organically building across the university, and that’s what we like.”