Springboard Atlantic program turns academics into entrepreneurs
Not seeking to take credit but wanting to achieve results, Springboard Atlantic, a not-for profit is finding commercialization success by helping turn college and university research into thriving businesses. Springboard's secret is, that it serves as a catalyst for the intellectual property (IP) coming out of the 19 Atlantic-region postsecondary institutions by combining them with commercial expertise and business resources.
“These universities create IP [intellectual property] on a daily basis,” says Mathis, himself a mechanical engineer turned entrepreneur. “We help these educational institutions decide which ideas can best be commercialized, and then help them connect with the people and partnerships that can bring them to fruition.” - Chris Mathis, Springboard Atlantic CEO & President.
Starting a business out of university research requires specialized support since the researchers are initially driven by their curiosity and don't consider the commercial potential or the market need. Therefore most colleges and universities have technology-transfer offices, which specialize on commercializing postsecondary IP. Fortunately, in Atlantic Canada, these offices do not operate in isolation. 12 years ago with the financial support from the universities, colleges and the federal government’s Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), Springboard Atlantic was created.
With a staff of five, Springboard serves clients directly and through the network of the institutional industry liaison and technology transfer officers. Its role is to help on-campus commercialization and develop solid relationships with faculty and to hone the technology-transfer officer's abilities to analyze IP and evaluate market potential. Springboard further helps the network explore the process of commercialization with their academic colleagues, to determine their interest in partnering with industry, licensing or venturing into business themselves.
Springboard's support spreads across Atlantic Canada, developing numerous Atlantic companies with global growth potential and impacts, from helping a Halifax firm that creates screens to protect pilots from exposure to lasers, to research in St. John’s that drew on Newfoundland’s population data to develop a technique for evaluating who should be screened for hereditary genetic heart issues.
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