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Institute working to make the most of acquired technology, create jobs

By Michelle Hall


One company's under-utilized technology is another company's life-blood.

That's the idea behind the work at the National Institute for Strategic Technology Acquisition and Commercialization at Kansas State University.

This entity takes idle or donated patents from industry and works to bring them to the marketplace by turning them into useful products. It expands on the role in this capacity, of the Mid-America Commercialization Corporation at K-State. The institute is a partnership between the commercialization corporation, Kansas State University, the KSU Research Foundation and the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation.

Kent GlasscockKent Glasscock, president of the National Institute for Strategic Technology Acquisition and Commercialization, said that since the formation of the institute earlier this year, things have been going "spectacularly" well.

"We're having excellent success and prospects look very bright," he said. Glasscock, who is pictured at left, said the institute's director of acquired technologies, Bob Reader, has been in the process of negotiating a number of patent technology donations from major American corporations.

"We hope to increase our portfolio of patented technologies and have a larger reservoir of potential business opportunities," Glasscock said. When the institute acquires a donated technology from a company, they allow university-based and other not-for-profit institutions to research the technology. They then commercialize the enhanced technologies through licensing, particularly to startup or small businesses.

Mid-America Commercialization Corporation aids in bringing an idea to the marketplace

The Mid-America Commercialization Corporation is a not-for-profit corporation that facilitates the commercialization of technologies for regional economic and social benefits. The group is a venture between Kansas via the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation, Kansas State University, the city of Manhattan, and the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. The corporation's services include management consulting, marketing support, technical assessments, intellectual property management, acquisition and transfer of technology, interim management resources, seed and venture capital financing, export and international market development, and incubation support for new, startup businesses through the Kansas Entrepreneurial Center.

In 1998, the corporation developed the Technology Acquisition, Development and Commercialization program to solicit and acquire rights to technologies from a variety of sources; promote use of technology at Kansas Regents universities and other research institutions; improve technologies through research; and commercialize the technologies through licensing to small- to medium-sized business enterprises, or by creation of new startup business ventures. This role has been taken over by the National Institute for Strategic Technology Acquisition and Commercialization, a entity headed by Kent Glasscock, former speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives.

One of the success stories of the work of the Mid-America Commercialization Corporation and the National Institute for Strategic Technology Acquisition and Commercialization in this area, is that of NutriJoy. This start-up company's main product is Cal-C, a fruit and dairy drink that can be kept on store shelves without refrigeration.

Glasscock said that under the leadership of Mid-America Commercialization Corporation president Ron Sampson, and NutriJoy chief operating officer David Yang, market expansion of Cal-C has been aggressive; the product is now sold from Alaska to San Francisco, and in Salt Lake City and Phoenix, in addition to Kansas.

"Sales are expanding tremendously, growing by leaps and bounds," he said. Glasscock said more technologies are being advanced at this time in similar ways. He said the institute is also having excellent initial success in creating a national network of similar not-for-profit institutions to support the activities of the institute. So far, they have been in talks with the California State university system, the University of Utah and other commercialization entities, and recently formed a strategic alliance with Innovation Philadelphia -- a regionally focused public/private partnership dedicated to technology-based economic development.

"We hope to support the flow of underutilized corporate technologies from major American corporations," he said. "Through the network, we will do value-added research when appropriate, for example."

And what does all of this technology transfer and product and company start-up mean for the state of Kansas?

"A variety of things," Glasscock said. Benefits include value-added research within the state, the flow of funds into K-State and the state of Kansas through licensing agreements and the start-up companies the institute spins off -- these bring opportunities for jobs and further resources to the area.

"Our basic notion is to expand the national network to give us greater opportunities and expand the portfolio of technologies," Glasscock said. "We take idle technologies and create products and jobs by bringing products to the marketplace."

Winter 2003