CU-Boulder PhD student and team launch tech transfer aggregator at national biotech conference

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As spring graduation approaches, many soon-to-be-alumni of the College of Engineering and Applied Science are looking forward to beginning new jobs with established companies. Some are ramping up plans to start their own businesses. But for computer science PhD student Aaron Schram – whose anticipated 2014 graduation is still a year away – the entrepreneurial dream is already a reality. Schram, co-founder and chief technology officer at Boulder-based Collective IP, took a break from the end of the spring semester to debut with his team the company’s new technology transfer information aggregator at the BIO International Convention, a major biotechnology conference and business forum held April 22-25 in Chicago.

“It’s incredibly exciting,” Schram says of the launch. “Our team is really a group of friends that decided to form a company – it took off last August, and it’s been a blur since then.”

Collective IP’s web-based search engine offers access to technologies and inventors from around the world, with technology listings from more than 1,000 sources of innovation – including universities, research institutes, hospitals, government labs, foundations, associations, agencies and patent offices. It also features a comprehensive index of research grants awarded to public and private universities so that companies can understand what is currently being studied across the world and what that might mean for licensable technologies in the future.

Other CU computer science graduates involved with the company include co-founder Ben Jacobson (BS ’10) and William Butler (BS ’03).

Since many technology transfer organizations currently feature opportunities on their own individual websites, Collective IP addresses a significant industry need: automating the aggregation of licensable technologies, streamlining the process of asset identification and helping to ensure that no potential assets are overlooked by those looking to license.

“With time-decaying assets such as granted patents, it is critical to gain immediate access to a comprehensive and accurate database for opportunity identification, due diligence, competitive intelligence and intellectual property strategy needs,” says Adam Rubenstein, president and CEO of Collective IP.  

The service enables users to quickly search for global licensing opportunities by geography, asset type, organization and inventor. Technology transfer offices may claim free institution profiles at the site, making it simpler for business development professionals to identify and investigate new tech opportunities.

 “We’ve found Collective IP to be a truly comprehensive search engine for technology transfer,” says Lindsay Lennox, Director of Marketing and Communications for Technology Transfer at the University of Colorado, an early adopter of the service. “Because of its unique data engine, Collective IP provides tremendous opportunities for asset identification with a minimum cost and labor burden to tech transfer offices.”

Collective IP joins a string of recent major successes in the entrepreneurial and startup space involving CU engineering graduates – including LineRate Systems, acquired earlier this year by F5 Networks, and Rally Software, which recently filed for a $70M IPO.

“We’ve long produced students who have gone on to successful careers as employees, and what we’re seeing now is a more entrepreneurial spirit in our students – taking ideas, running with them, and creating their own companies,” says Kenneth Anderson, associate professor and associate chair of CU’s Department of Computer Science in the College of Engineering and Applied Science. “This is building on a new dynamic of collaboration between engineering, business and law to work on growing students’ potential in the entrepreneurial sphere.”

Schram adds that his PhD at CU-Boulder – particularly his work under Anderson, his advisor – prepared him from the beginning for startup success.

“Ken and I discussed from the beginning that I’ve always been interested in forming my own company, and he’s been extremely supportive of my doing work such as consulting or just being active in the local startup community,” Schram says. “Everything I’m doing in industry comes back to help academia and vice versa.”

Jessica Schilling, 303-492-2043

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