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K-State Today

April 25, 2024

Operational excellence update: Enhancing the culture of entrepreneurship, innovation and economic development at Kansas State University

Submitted by Office of the Senior Vice President/Chief of Staff and Office of the Vice President for Research

Dear K-State Community:

Last October, President Linton shared with you that we were launching two distinct working groups to explore the university's tech transfer, commercialization, corporate engagement and economic development functions. As part of our ongoing efforts to drive operational excellence in alignment with our Next-Gen K-State strategic plan, these groups embarked on an effort to build upon the solid foundation laid by K-State Innovation Partners in these areas. Our goal was to identify new opportunities to foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship throughout the institution while concurrently establishing an infrastructure that cultivates and sustains external partnerships.

As chairs of these working groups, we want to take a moment to express our gratitude for each member's dedication and hard work. They have completed the task given to them and provided transformative recommendations that will propel us forward.

Establishment of the Office of Technology Commercialization and New Ventures Development Group
In line with our Next-Gen K-State aspirations, and to signify the development of a more robust research foundation for the university, we are reintroducing the Kansas State University Research Foundation, or KSURF. KSURF will be overseen by a board of individuals with collective expertise in technology commercialization, innovation, entrepreneurship, startups, venture capital and business development. Additionally, two sub-units will operate under the KSURF banner: The Office of Technology Commercialization, or TechCom, and the New Ventures Development Group, or Ventures.

The TechCom office is envisioned to foster institutional collaboration in identifying new commercialization opportunities. It will streamline the review process and regularly evaluate the potential for launching startups. Furthermore, TechCom staff will collaborate with associate deans in the academic colleges to develop annual college-specific goals, plans and timelines to facilitate cross-college synergies and enhance support.

Ventures aims to expand K-State's innovation ecosystem through universitywide promotion and resource allocation. Specifically, the group will collaborate with deans, associate deans and other on-campus partners to promote existing venture development programs, increase visibility for technology commercialization and startup activities among faculty and students, and establish a robust recognition program to honor and reward faculty inventors, thereby promoting their success both internally and externally.

Establishment of the Office for Corporate Engagement and Economic Development
While K-State has achieved several successes in corporate engagement and economic development, there remains a significant opportunity to more closely integrate these areas, creating intentional connections between faculty and industry and leveraging existing efforts through a streamlined approach with current and future external partners. To drive this initiative forward, we are establishing an Office of Corporate Engagement and Economic Development, which will champion universitywide coordination and collaboration.

The office will forge connections and partnerships with local, regional and state entities to support the efforts of the Edge Collaboration District and our campuses, with a focus on attracting and retaining large businesses in Kansas. It will facilitate collaborations between K-State faculty and industry, manage the universitywide Strategic Partner Planning Group for Corporate Engagement and Economic Development and drive higher levels of coordination and collaboration in corporate partnership development. Through these endeavors, the office will play a pivotal role in advancing the university's Economic Prosperity Plan and supporting the K-State Opportunity Agenda outlined in our strategic plan.

The office will be led by Marshall Stewart, senior vice president for executive affairs, university engagement and partnerships, and chief of staff. Additionally, an Advisory Oversight Team for Corporate Engagement and Economic Development will govern the office, composed of the vice president for research, KSU Foundation senior vice president for development, a K-State Athletics representative and a college dean representative.

The pathway forward
To facilitate the growth of the distinct functions of technology commercialization, venture development, corporate engagement and economic development, we will develop new structures to realign these functions within the new entities. As part of the transition process, we will meet with several groups, both internal and external to the university, to share the vision and its potential impact.

K-State Innovation Partners laid a strong foundation for us to build upon. This realignment of functions is about ushering in the next phase of those efforts and creating a launchpad for our Next-Gen K-State ambitions in driving transformational discovery, innovation and scholarship; integrating engagement across all we do; and investing in the jobs and economies of tomorrow. We are excited about this path forward and cannot wait to see the accomplishments of these teams, fueled by our shared values and One K-State mindset.

When we do great things right here in Kansas, we can do great things around the world.

Marshall Stewart
Senior vice president for executive affairs, university engagement and partnerships, and chief of staff

David Rosowsky
Vice president for research