President Ruth V. Watkins is pleased to announce that the University of Utah has formed the Partners for Innovation, Ventures, Outreach & Technology (PIVOT) Center, a centralized office that will drive the U’s expanding efforts for economic engagement for the greater Utah community. The new office builds on the work by the Center for Technology & Venture Commercialization (TVC), to serve as a hub to foster partnerships between industry, university and government entities. This effort formalizes the U’s commitment to increase its impact on Utah’s economy by catalyzing innovation.
As a crucial foundation for PIVOT Center, operations previously led by TVC will continue to assist the U’s faculty inventors in bringing their innovations to market by spearheading all aspects of invention management, patent prosecution, licensing, startup formation and support, equity management and early stage funding. The new office leverages these existing resources and will hire new staff to oversee economic development and corporate engagement as well as to elicit feedback from internal and external stakeholders to improve how the U addresses their needs.
Keith Marmer, who has served as the executive director of TVC and corporate partnerships for the past four years, will lead PIVOT as chief innovation and economic engagement officer for the U. He will report directly to the president in his new capacity. Marmer’s strong leadership skills come from 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur, executive and investor. He has personally launched and scaled four companies as well as helped entrepreneurs raise more than $1 billion in investment capital. Marmer’s passion for innovation has helped countless ideas get the momentum they need to succeed. During the course of his career, Marmer has overseen the creation of more than 100 companies. Since joining the U, Marmer has helped transform the culture of commercialization, rolled out three accelerators, a business incubator and a venture fund to support startup companies.
“As one of America’s leading research universities and the flagship institution of our state, the U is a key player in generating new knowledge and enterprises that drive Utah’s vibrant economy,” Watkins said. “Keith brings a strong background and clear vision for how to refine our role in these endeavors and I am grateful for his leadership.”
Watkins added that the U’s ability to serve as a catalyst in bringing researchers, industry and government partners together is needed now more than ever due to the economic disruption caused by the pandemic.
“This is a prime example of how we can fulfill our mission as the University for Utah,” she said.
Formation of the PIVOT Center resulted from a yearlong evaluation process commissioned by Watkins that included interviews with community and industry stakeholders, and a survey sent to 7,000 faculty. Feedback was virtually unanimous in advocating for a centralized office empowered by U leadership to expand economic enterprise and innovation. The office is tasked with leading a centralized and integrated strategy and operation for technology commercialization, corporate engagement and economic development.
“As the university continues to grow its research platform, having the PIVOT Center will allow our innovative researchers engage directly and effectively with our partners,” said U Vice President for Research Andrew Weyrich. “In turn, this will drive economic impact for the U and the state.”