Pitt Start-Ups

Interesting report in today's Post-Gazette:

Pitt ranked sixth in the number of start-ups spawned by technologies developed by Pitt researchers in the fiscal year that ended in June, beating out such tech-heavy schools as the University of Minnesota and Cornell, the Association of University Technology Managers said yesterday.

This is very nice, but this is no time for anyone associated with the university to declare victory for the entrepreneurial spirit. It's merely a good start. Both Pitt and the region need to do better -- and to do better consistently, over a number of years. Consider the following comments by Carnegie Mellon faculty member Rob Lowe:

Carnegie Mellon University didn't do as well as its Oakland neighbor -- it received $225 million in research dollars, issued 21 licenses and crated four start-ups.

But to compare Pitt and CMU would be like comparing apples and oranges, Dr. Lowe said, because CMU only receives only half as much sponsored research funds.

For the city to emerge as a technology hub, both Pitt and CMU must continue to grow the number of licenses and start-ups spawned by its research, he added.

"Having seven or eight start-ups emerge from university research'' every year over several years "is when you can tell we're doing well as a city," Dr. Lowe said.

Link: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05340/617720.stm


2 Responses to "Pitt Start-Ups"

Amos_thePokerCat said... 12/06/2005 7:13 PM

Unfortunately, there were not much detail about the location or size of the startups, never mind the names. Pitt Officals did not even tell which companies where even in the area. Those licenses and startups could have been to companies in New York, Chicago, or California as well as PA.

AUTM has a 79 page summary of the FY 2004 report online. They have summary reports going back to 1991. Here's an interesting tidbit.

According to survey results, professors who want to commercialize research results turn most commonly to their own friends and family for initial funding. Individuals unrelated to the founders, known in technology commercialization as angel investors, are the third most common source of seed funding. Overall, individuals provided the initial funding for nearly 50 percent of university startup companies. Fewer than 20 percent of new companies had a technology that was at a stage where it could attract venture capital funding.

Mike Madison said... 12/07/2005 7:34 AM

Very appropriate. There's a lot more to this story. Universities aren't really in the commercialization business, though they think they are. They don't know how to (and usually don't want to) develop products, and they usually aren't willing to fund them. That makes sense from the standpoint of the "traditional" university, but it takes the edge off of claims that Pitt, or CMU, or any university, has really "solved" the entrepreneurial conundrum.

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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at]gmail.com. Mike also blogs at Madisonian.net, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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