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Week of 12 March 1999

Vol. II, No. 26

Feature Article

Technology Development Awards will assist BU faculty inventors

The Community Technology Fund (CTF) is launching an award program designed to help Boston University faculty turn their patentable ideas into commercially viable products and even start their own companies.

Applications for the new Technology Development Awards, which will range from $20,000 to $50,000, will be available beginning March 19, according to Roger Kitterman, director of new ventures at CTF. In exceptional circumstances, awards of up to $100,000 will be considered.

Charles River Campus faculty are invited to learn about the Technology Development Awards at a kickoff event on Thursday, March 18, at 4 p.m. in the George Sherman Union faculty/staff dining room. University Chancellor John Silber, President Jon Westling, and Provost Dennis Berkey are expected to attend, and Edson de Castro, founder of Data General and a University trustee, will be the guest speaker. A reception will follow. Medical faculty will be invited to a separate kickoff event in a few weeks; a firm date and details will be announced.

The new awards, Kitterman says, will provide an unprecedented level of support at the University for product development and testing. "The federal government likes to fund basic research," Kitterman explains, "but there's little government funding for taking an idea past the stage of basic research and turning it into a commercial product. This award program will help our faculty take their inventions to that next level."

Established in 1975, CTF provides venture capital to startup firms, and assists BU faculty in identifying, protecting, and licensing the University's intellectual property. It has been a shareholder in more than 125 companies in the United States.

With CTF's help, a number of faculty members have already founded spinout companies such as InfoLibria, a manufacturer of hardware to improve Internet performance, Commonwealth Network Technologies, which specializes in distributed networking and Internet software, and Pharmadyne, Inc., which is creating new antiviral drugs.

"While the Technology Development Awards may lead to the formation of new ventures," Kitterman says, "their main focus is to build value into new technologies, whether they become spinout companies or license opportunities."