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Westwood Technology Transfer to guide UCLA in investment decisions

By Kelly Gu

Oct. 2, 2014 2:10 a.m.

As the first of its kind in the University of California system, a non-profit technology company with UCLA-affiliated board members will help guide UCLA in its investment and entrepreneurial decisions, Chancellor Gene Block announced last week.

The Westwood Technology Transfer company consists of 10 board members selected by Block to assist UCLA’s Office of Intellectual Property, which helps research projects gain protection, apply for patents and market their products. Westwood Technology Transfer plans to guide the Office of Intellectual Property in choosing the projects or companies it should fund. It also aims to direct the office in allocating resources across campus.

“More incubator space on campus has been talked about for a long time, but now we can get additional guidance from somebody who’s done this for years,” said Lillian Smith, director of strategic initiatives and legal liaisons at the Office of Intellectual Property. “We’re bringing coaches that have a winning track record to help us with the operations.”

The 10 board members were selected from 200 nominations made by the campus community, said Brendan Rauw, president and CEO of Westwood Technology Transfer. Of the board of directors, three members are UCLA faculty, and seven are from off campus and specialize in different areas of technology.

Rauw said the office currently has 48 people working on research contracts and assessing on-campus inventions, with $40 million for research going through the office every year. The process for guiding and commercializing UCLA technology projects is set to stay the same, but the board will be working to improve the process and give advice in marketing the products.

Last year, the Office of Intellectual Property launched nearly 170 licenses and and around 20 start-ups, without counting start-ups formed by undergraduates and alumni.

“We think we can do better,” Rauw said. “(The board has) an opportunity here to redefine and re-envision UCLA as an entrepreneur campus.”

As a non-profit company, Westwood Technology Transfer will not be taking any of the profit from start-up companies and instead will channel the revenue back into campus operations and research.

“These people (on the board) are untapped resources,” Smith said. “They’re so eager to share their knowledge with the university and all of them are volunteering to help us with our mission.”

The first year of the board’s implementation will act as a transition period while board members gain an understanding of how university operations work. Westwood Technology Transfer will aim to serve as a catalyst for selected advisory boards in the UC system, Rauw said.

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