PCI Guide is one-stop shop for University entrepreneurs

In early June, the Penn Center for Innovation (PCI) unveiled its first Commercialization Guide. Meant mainly for Penn faculty members and graduate students, the free Guide serves as a one-stop shop for those looking to bring their ideas to market.

John Swartley, PCI’s managing director, says a big part of PCI’s strategy centers around accessibility—making innovation resources obtainable by the entire University community.

“With this Guide, we focused on creating a friendly and easy-to-use resource showing how to work effectively with PCI and engage in all kinds of commercialization activities at Penn,” he says.

Separated into detailed sections, the Commercialization Guide, a 45-page, colorful booklet, touches on a variety of topics, including invention disclosures, intellectual property, commercialization, agreements and contracts, patent policy, and startups. To boost the Guide’s offerings, PCI worked closely with David Kahn of the University’s Office of General Counsel.

“PCI has created a concise, easily accessible, and creatively designed Guide with everything you need to know about commercializing research discoveries,” says Dawn Bonnell, the University’s Vice Provost for Research. “The Guide—which even includes some of Ben Franklin’s most noteworthy sayings—is a valuable asset to new inventors and experienced entrepreneurs alike.”

Laurie Actman, PCI’s chief marketing, communications, and programs officer, says the Guide is intended for any faculty member who wants to better understand the commercialization process at Penn and the University’s patent policy; junior faculty who perhaps never disclosed their ideas before, but want to patent them; researchers looking for corporate partners on particular projects; or someone thinking about going the startup route. It also provides a clear and transparent model for external stakeholders on how PCI works.

“We’re the organization at Penn that can strategically work with you to get your ideas to the market,” says Actman. “This Guide helps put a lot of important information all in one place. It’s all part of the umbrella of commercialization and innovation at Penn, and makes it easier to understand.”

Right now, Actman says PCI is reaching out to deans and major centers within the University to determine the best ways to distribute the Guides. Those interested and on campus can sign up to receive a print copy or download a digital version on the PCI website.

PCI was established three years ago, replacing the Center for Tech Transfer, with a goal of providing the infrastructure, leadership, and resources to transfer promising Penn inventions, know-how, and related assets into the marketplace for public good. PCI has since been able to boost collaboration with the private sector, building relationships with companies such as Novartis, Biogen, and Celgene, helping to accelerate the rate of commercialization. Because of PCI’s expanded focus on industry partnerships, the percentage of research and development support that now comes in to the total Penn enterprise from corporate sources has risen from 6 to 15 percent.

“Industry partners provide a new and additional funding source for faculty research and development at a time when federal basic research funding is under threat,” says Actman. “Co-development with an industry partner can also help ensure that Penn faculty ideas, many of which have high social impact, make it into the marketplace.”

PCI Guide