Harvard’s Office of Technology Development (OTD) has launched an Experts-in-Residence (XIR) program, creating a powerful new resource for Harvard faculty and researchers to accelerate startup formation and support the commercialization of University innovations.
Initially, 28 XIRs have volunteered for the program. The XIRs include partners at venture capital firms, scientific entrepreneurs, R&D executives, and other respected experts on company formation and leadership, intellectual property strategy, legal transactions, product development, regulatory affairs, marketing, and corporate partnerships.
OTD invites Harvard’s principal investigators to reach out with any questions in these areas or generally relating to technology commercialization.
“Our XIR program enables faculty and researchers to quickly tap into a wide range of capabilities in the broader ecosystem,” said Isaac Kohlberg, Harvard’s Chief Technology Development Officer and Senior Associate Provost. “The XIRs are all people we’ve been grateful to call on in the past to help us navigate the complexities of technology commercialization. Establishing the XIR program formalizes this relationship and makes the same incredible resource available to researchers across the University.”
The XIRs could offer insight on the following types of questions, for example:
- What are the market trends in my area of interest?
- Given the current R&D landscape, would my innovations have a greater impact through a license to an existing company, or in the hands of a startup?
- What therapeutic indications should my research team focus on in our proof-of-principle studies?
- What regulatory considerations might affect my chance of success if I pursue one translational path or another?
- What strategic considerations might affect the value of my intellectual property?
“With a wealth of professional expertise and personal experience, the XIRs are really on call to answer the thorniest questions,” said Kohlberg.
The program may prove an invaluable resource to aspiring entrepreneurs, in particular.
“Launching a startup can be daunting,” said Marko Loncar, Tiantsai Lin Professor of Electrical Engineering at Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “Through OTD, our startup team was introduced to Stan Reiss [at Matrix Partners], who provided introductions to potential industry partners, as well as guidance on fundraising and team building. For researchers just starting to think about translating their research into startups that can have real impact, the XIR program will play an important role.”
A suite of programs
The XIR program complements a suite of OTD outreach programs available to the Harvard research community:
- Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIRs) provide ongoing advice and mentoring to aspiring company founders working in Harvard labs
- The annual Bench-to-Business Boot Camp engages Harvard postdocs and graduate students in a two-day educational workshop. The deadline to apply in 2019 is April 1.
- Ongoing event series, such as the Biomedical Informatics Entrepreneurs Salon (next event: April 10), invite speakers to campus and facilitate networking among academic and industry scientists
- Guppy Tank, a quarterly event co-hosted with LabCentral, provides Harvard researchers the opportunity to present their innovations to an audience of industry experts, for constructive feedback on the next steps toward commercialization
- OTD’s Business Development Fellowship recruits Harvard postdocs and graduate students each spring to spend a year engaging (part-time) in the crucial early stages of technology development. The 2019 deadline to apply was in January.