Boston University Technology Commercialization Institute Explores International Collaboration

in News Releases, Science & Technology
July 1st, 2003

Contact: Ann Marie Menting, 617/353-2240 |

(Boston, Mass.) — With an aim of setting an energetic, decisive direction for Boston University’s new Technology Commercialization Institute (TCI), Robert Ronstadt, vice president and director of TCI, recently launched Institute operations with a roundtable on potential international nanotechnology collaborations with Japanese scientist and engineer Tadashi Sasaki.

In addition to Ronstadt and Sasaki, roundtable participants included Bennett Goldberg, professor of physics, and M. Selim Unlu, associate professor in electrical and computer engineering, both key representatives from the Boston University’s nanotechnology working group, and Glenn Thoren, deputy director of the University’s Photonics Center. University Chancellor John Silber welcomed Sasaki and the other participants.

Discussions centered on ways BU’s nanotechnology research and commercialization initiative might participate in a global cooperative known as the Co-Creation Laboratory. Founded by Sasaki in 2000, the Co-Creation Laboratory focuses on nanotechnology development and commercialization.

The Co-Creation Laboratory is an outgrowth of an innovative approach to technical research and development begun by Sasaki a decade ago. In this model, research and development efforts of groups throughout the world are pooled or “co-created.” The goal: to spur technical breakthroughs.

“I asked Dr. Sasaki to visit BU because I knew he had been working on nanoscale science and technology for more than a decade,” says Ronstadt. “Nine years ago, he created his own materials research laboratory, which will be part of a global network of nanotechnology co-creation labs. I want BU to be a part of that network.”

According to Ronstadt, BU’s technology development and commercialization effort would fit well with Sasaki’s international endeavor. “Much of what we do at BU is consistent with the concept of co-creation labs. Our nanotechnology initiative is multidisciplinary, it focuses on commercialization, and it is grounded in values that are vital to successful international cooperation, including having an active appreciation of each other’s accomplishments.”

Photonics Center’s Thoren says, “I was especially pleased to learn that Dr. Sasaki’s values and strategies on the benefits of collaboration and cross-coupling of expertise in the international arena are the same as those we at the Photonics Center use to capture new opportunities and accelerate new companies.”

In addition to being chairman of the Co-Creation Laboratory, Sasaki is president and CEO of the International Center for Materials Research, a Kawasaki City-based center that fosters cooperative development of materials research globally.

Sasaki is internationally recognized for his decades of research on semiconductors, vacuum tubes, and liquid crystal displays, work pivotal to the development of the desktop and hand-held calculators. His contributions in these areas were recently recognized by a lifetime achievement award conferred by IEEE, the global technical society for professionals in electrical, electronics, computer, information and other technologies.

Boston University’s nanotechnology working group is a cross-campus initiative headed by Goldberg. By combining the strengths and successes of more than 25 researchers from 10 different departments, the working group seeks to stimulate collaborations in micro- and nanoscale biosystems research with industry, research foundations, and national and international research laboratories.

TCI extends this effort by working to integrate and leverage the activities of several Boston University entrepreneurial groups, such as Beacon Photonics, the BioSquare Discovery and Innovation Center, the Community Technology Fund, the Photonics Center, and the Fraunhofer USA Center for Manufacturing Innovation, an affiliate of Fraunhofer–Gesellschaft, an international research and development organization based in Germany. TCI also is establishing a new academic and professional discipline in technology commercialization.

Boston University’s Photonics Center seeks to identify, develop, and commercialize photonics technologies through the joining of commercial needs and technological advances within an entrepreneurial environment.

Boston University, with an enrollment of more than 29,000 in its 17 schools and colleges, is the fourth-largest independent university in the United States.

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