Former Harvard Official Tapped to Expand Tech Transfer at Brown U.

10/1/09

Brown University says it has hired Katherine Gordon, a veteran of Harvard University’s technology transfer office, to help the Providence, RI-based university commercialize more of its research. Brown’s tech transfer efforts have lagged some of its Ivy League counterparts in the past, but Gordon says she has the industry experience and contacts to expand commercial activity at the university.

Gordon started work at Brown in early September, after spending the previous five years at Harvard, most recently as a director of business development in Harvard’s Office of Technology Development. At Harvard she worked under tech transfer legend Isaac Kohlberg, who earlier in his career grew New York University into a national leader in commercializing academic research. Now Gordon, as managing director of Brown’s Technology Ventures Office, is planning to apply what she learned from Kohlberg and her own experience as a former biotech executive and employee of Cambridge, MA-based biotech firm Genzyme (NASDAQ:GENZ) to take Brown’s tech transfer to the next level.

Brown researchers’ ties with industry appear to be in need of a boost. The university has spun off a modest number of startups in recent years, including genetic sequencing firm NABsys and optimization software developer Dynadec. But the university’s commercialization rate pales in comparison to those of nearby research institutions like Harvard and MIT. (Brown hasn’t published the amount of licensing revenue it receives, as some of its counterparts do, so it’s tough to pin down exactly how the university stacks up with its peers.) To be fair, Brown has a smaller research budget than those two research powerhouses. Yet there are some at Brown who believe the university and its medical school could be doing more to transfer discoveries into the commercial realm.

“I view the whole [Brown research] community as under-tapped potential,” Gordon said. “I think there’s a lot more opportunity to commercialize research than historically has been developed.”

Gordon has the background to change the direction of tech transfer at Brown. She founded and raised money for a Cambridge, MA, startup called … Next Page »

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