Spinning: In or Out?

Technology transfer offices normally spin-out new companies and ideas, but what happens when they work more like a revolving door? Tech-transfer offices can also spin-in opportunities to produce businesses and improve economic growth without committing the substantial resources needed for a normal start-up. Known as symbiotic innovation, this alternative to start-ups is beneficial for both the universities and companies involved.

Arizona State University’s Tempe campus has a spin-in program that has helped the technology transfer office integrate with the local and even global economies. The motivation behind the program was to become a partner in economic development rather than just a contributor.

Similarly, the University of Wisconsin’s WiSys Technology Foundation has been working with small companies and start-ups since its spin-in efforts began in 2010.  Called The Wisconsin Small Company Advancement Program, it brings in technology from outside of the university and develops it with their specific capabilities.

Utah State University (USU) is also experiencing success with its own spin-in. Recently, the school contributed technology to satellites that will be used to predict severe weather. By assisting companies with research and development, USU has built industry partnerships that create a revolving door and benefit the companies it does spin-out.

The benefit of a spin-in initiative is a win-win relationship. Partnering small companies can advance their technologies despite limited resources, while universities receive in-kind support. Plus, spin-ins make sure that the most useful technology is developed.

Has the revolving door been successful for you? Have you had better success spinning-out when you are also spinning-in? Tell us about your experiences!

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