Rice University Launches New Technology Ventures Development Initiative
Dr. Tom Kraft named to lead Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship
HOUSTON (May 18, 2010) – The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship (Rice Alliance) is launching a new Tech Ventures Development Initiative to support the formation of new start-up companies based on Rice University technology innovations. Tom Kraft, who has assisted in the launch of at least three Rice start-ups and who himself has a Ph.D. from Rice, has been named to lead this effort, as Director of Technology Ventures Development.
The new program is designed to identify the most promising and commercially-viable technologies developed by Rice University researchers and to pair them with talented entrepreneurial Rice MBAs to take the innovations from concept to market. During this process, the Rice Alliance works closely with the Rice University Office of Technology Transfer (Rice OTT), which licenses these new technologies for commercialization and promotes them to members of the larger entrepreneurial community.
“This program is a great opportunity to capitalize on the abundance of valuable technologies coming out of Rice research and to build on Rice’s leadership role in university technology commercialization,” said Brad Burke, managing director of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship at Rice University. “Over 40 start-up companies have been formed from licensing Rice University technology from the Rice Office of Technology Transfer (Rice OTT) in the past 10 years and this new program builds on that successful track record in partnership with the Rice OTT .”
The outlook and enthusiasm for the new program is high. As noted by James S. Coleman, vice provost for research at Rice University, “The mission of the Rice Office of Technology Transfer is to commercialize innovation when commercialization is the best way for the research of Rice’s faculty and students research to have a positive impact on the world. Partnering more closely with the Rice Alliance has been a key strategy toward fulfilling that mission. We are really excited about how this new technology development initiative will give us another tool in the toolbox for helping Rice’s research solve real problems for people and create economic growth in Houston!”
A number of other universities across the U.S. are developing programs similar to the Rice Alliance’s Tech Ventures Development Initiative. In part, they are doing so out of a desire to commercialize and produce tangible results from federally funded research projects. In addition, they recognize that for the U.S. to remain competitive in the global economy, the U.S. must leverage its unique strengths in innovation and entrepreneurship.
Kraft, himself a successful technology entrepreneur, will help accelerate technology start-ups by working with the Rice University Office of Technology Transfer along with the Schools of Engineering, Natural Sciences, and Business. His role, in part, will be to bridge engineering, science, and business to create more formal processes to evaluate commercial feasibility and to accelerate the number of start-ups by engaging the faculty, staff, and students in the these three key areas.
Rice has long been known as a top engineering and science university, and more recently has gained a national reputation in entrepreneurship. The Jones Graduate School of Business was ranked as the 5th best entrepreneurship school in the U.S. by The Princeton Review. Kraft will leverage those strengths to increase the rate of successful start-up formation.
Prior to joining the Rice Alliance, Kraft was the Director of Client Services for the Houston Technology Center. During this tenure, he helped launch three Rice technology companies: HMR, N3D, and Rebellion Photonics.
HMR developed a new and innovative means of automatically and robotically opening a central venous catheter line. With this new device, a risky procedure that could take 30 minutes in the hands of an experienced surgeon can be done in seconds with a trained medical technician.
N3D has patented a technology that causes cells to become magnetic. When put into a magnetic field, the cells levitate as they are cultured, and this results in growth that is comparable to that realized in cells grown in vivo. This technology could greatly advance regenerative medicine and drug testing.
Rebellion Photonics is commercializing yet another Rice technology, in this case, one that provides a means of instantaneously capturing a traditional visual image of any scene or object, along with the complex wavelength images, at all wavelengths up to 2,000 nanometers. This portable technology has numerous applications for food production, security, geological imaging, and offers new biological uses for scanning blood and dermal conditions.
The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship
The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship is Rice University’s nationally recognized initiative devoted to the support of technology commercialization, entrepreneurship education, and the launch of technology companies. It was formed as a strategic alliance of three schools: the George R. Brown School of Engineering, the Wiess School of Natural Sciences, and the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business.
Since its inception, the Rice Alliance has assisted in the launch of more than 250 start-ups that have raised more than half a billion dollars in early stage capital. More than 750 companies have presented at the 115+ programs hosted by the Rice Alliance.
- 2009 Named #5 U.S. Graduate Entrepreneurship Program – Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine
- 2009 Named Outstanding Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership & Excellence in Specialty Entrepreneurship Education – GCEC
- 2009 Outstanding Specialty Entrepreneurship Program – USASBE
- 2009 Marketer of the Year – American Marketing Association
- 2008 Houston’s Greatest Economic Development Ally – Greater Houston Partnership
- 2007 Outstanding Enterprise Creation Award – GCEC
For more information about the Rice Alliance, visit www.alliance.rice.edu.
The Rice University Office of Research and Office of Technology Transfer
Rice University researchers are prolific inventors of new technology. Rice University ranks 5th overall in the number of patents held by a U.S. university (University Patent Scorecard), and ranks 1st in patent output per $1 million in research (Association of University Technology Managers). The Rice University patent portfolio is also ranked as having the highest impact of any university in the U.S., according to the Patent Board Current Impact Indicator.