Former WTIA Head Ken Myer Joins UW Center for Commercialization
When we last caught up with Ken Myer, he was stepping down as president and chief executive of the Washington Technology Industry Association after three years on the job. Last week, I heard through the grapevine that Myer has joined the University of Washington in an advisory role, after assisting with the transition to WTIA’s new CEO, Susan Sigl.
I spoke with Myer this morning and confirmed that he has taken a part-time position as an entrepreneur-in-residence at the UW Center for Commercialization. He is working with vice provost Linden Rhoads and deputy director Rick LeFaivre, who is also a venture capitalist at OVP Venture Partners. Myer’s broad role is to work with researchers in computer science & engineering and other departments on commercializing their technologies.
This is part of a program Rhoads installed since she arrived on campus, to match up seasoned executives with inventors on campus who could use some advice about the business world. Medical device expert Tom Clement, and video game veteran Alex St. John are a couple of the other entrepreneurs who have participated since the program started.
Depending on the researcher, Myer says he plans to start by “brainstorming commercial opportunities that might come from the primary research they’re doing” at the earliest stages. Or, it could mean helping them put together a business plan for a specific idea. Or it could also mean “connecting them with companies in the local tech industry who might have an interest in advising them, or perhaps have an interest in licensing their technology,” he says.
Myer has been on the job for two weeks, so he’s just getting started. Some areas of interest he’s already seeing: databases, programming languages, video games, and visualization.
“I’m really excited by the new energy they have at the Center for Commercialization that Linden [Rhoads] has brought,” Myer says. “I’m impressed by the intelligence and the really interesting research that’s going on.” He adds that he’s “going to be coming back to the industry but this is a golden opportunity to keep my finger on the pulse” of interesting technologies and people.
Myer’s term at the UW will probably be four to six months, as he takes a step back from the tech industry. He says that by the end of this year, he’d like to be moving on to the next big thing.