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Partnering with universities for disruptive innovation
Innovation Leader Teach-In 2017
Innovation Leader Teach-In 2017

Bill Nottingham, Vikki Nowak and Gary Wnek presenting at the Innovation Leader Teach-In 2017.

Offering internships is a good start, but barely scratches the surface of what’s possible when businesses and universities find common interests and goals. Nottingham Spirk’s Vikki Nowak and Bill Nottingham were joined by Gary Wnek, professor of engineering at Case Western Reserve University, for a whiteboard session on “Keys to Unlocking University Innovation” at Innovation Leader’s Teach-In, October 10-12 in Boston.

NS has been building relationships with universities for most of our 45-year history. In addition to CWRU, our neighbor in Cleveland’s University Circle area, we’ve worked in a variety of ways with Cleveland Institute of Art; University of Akron (we’re sponsoring a fellow from the school’s Integrated Bioscience Ph.D. program); Cornell’s Weill School of Medicine; Penn State; and Washington University of St. Louis.

In our presentation, we talked about our work on the CardioInsight ECVUE vest, a breakthrough in heart imaging that resulted from a CWRU professor and two PhD graduates’ research. NS has a long record of serving as a bridge between academia and the private sector.

We also discussed the value of long-term relationships with multiple influential people within academic institutions. On the surface, companies and universities have little in common; most of their priorities, challenges and goals are dramatically different. Sometimes, however, interests will align, and ongoing dialogues bring those opportunities to light. We encouraged attendees at our presentation to always look for the win-win scenarios.

NS Pathfinder GraphicNottingham Spirk enables university connections in their proprietary Pathfinder program, a rapid methodlogy that helps businesses to quickly develop disruptive growth strategies. As part of the IL session, NS shared our top 10 Best Practices for University Partnerships:

  1. Faculty Consultants
  2. Investment Sponsorships
  3. Internships/Co-Op Programs
  4. Fellowships
  5. Board or Committee Volunteering
  6. Entrepreneurial Challenges like “Shark Tank”
  7. Technology Transfer
  8. Industry Connections
  9. Hackathons
  10. University Incubators

Innovation Leader is an independent information service for companies that innovate. The October Teach-In attracted senior-level executives from a wide range of industries, including consumer products, finance, pharmaceutical, food and beverage, insurance and aerospace. In June 2018, Innovation Leader and Nottingham Spirk are partnering to bring a “Field Study” event to Cleveland. We’ll share details as they become available.

If you are interested to learn more about our 3-month Pathfinder program, contact Vikki Nowak, our VP of Strategy.

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