Published on July 10th, 2008 | by Steffen Moldow4
Better Tools Needed for Cleantech Transfer
July 10th, 2008 by Steffen Moldow
Universities and academic institutions are developing new technologies aimed at solving the world’s energy and climate change challenges at a truly amazing pace. Some of the most exciting and promising cleantech ventures are being developed at universities around the world right now, yet barriers to commercialization prevent most from being realized.
While many top U.S. universities have tech transfer specialists on staff and departments dedicated to the commercialization of research, many others, especially in developing economies such as Brazil, India and China, don’t have readily available access to investors and industry.
Several years ago I was invited by the Danish Prime Minister to attend a globalization council meeting on the commercialization of university research. We found that although there are 7,500 universities and more than 10,000 research institutions worldwide (twice the size of the global automotive industry), there is no annual forum for academic researchers to convene and exhibit their latest research and innovation to industry.
As a world leader in clean energy and the host of the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference, Copenhagen has a unique opportunity to garner international attention for this issue. Fortunately, the Danish government recognizes this, and has offered financial support to help us organize the first ever COPENMIND conference and exhibit this September.
In order to establish the need for this event, we visited 120 universities, which are developing technologies that range from lightweight ceramics for aircraft to unique solar cell PV technology to wave energy. While everyone we spoke with felt their technology offered something valuable to the global marketplace, everyone also agreed they had no such global forum for matchmaking with industry executives and venture capitalists. To confirm that industry would also have interest in such an event, we interviewed 280 businesses including IBM, Siemens, Microsoft, Boeing, Dow Chemical and Coca-Cola – the feedback has been clear and consistent, validating the need for COPENMIND.
As was suggested by our primary research, the response to the inaugural COPENMIND conference and exhibit, September 1-3 in Copenhagen, has been overwhelming. We are now sold out of exhibition space, with 125 universities exhibiting from around the world (representing around $158 billion dollars of research).
COPENMIND boasts an impressive roster of U.S. universities, including MIT, Stanford, Columbia, Berkeley as well as representation from Europe, South America and Asia. We also have 3,000 industry executives set to attend, including representatives from leading global companies such as Boeing, Siemens and Toyota.
As we look forward to a successful event in 2008 and to Copenhagen hosting the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference, we already have plans for COPENMIND 2009 with a focus on energy and COPENMIND 2010, health – both very relevant industries with huge market potential for improved academic partnerships.
We recognize that COPENMIND is only a first step in response to a critical need for improved university/industry collaboration. In the age of globalization, we need to ensure that innovative minds at universities around the world are being fully utilized with the aim of mitigating climate change and ensuring renewable energy sources.
Photo Credit (top photo): Coskata
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