Vision. Patience. Dr. George Adams, new president of the Innovations
Foundation, says these virtues are the key to success at the
revamped organization, which has been dubbed "U of T's technology
goal," says Adams, "is to maximize the impact of the more than
$2 million we spend on research every day at U of T and the hospitals
affiliated with the university." With a re-engineered business plan
and an energetic new president, the Foundation is well on its way to meeting
Established in 1980,
the Innovations Foundation is an important bridge between the university
and the business world. Originally focused on licensing university technology
to private sector companies, the new Foundation will also help university
researchers create spin-off companies, develop strategic alliances, find
venture capital funds, and seek mentors to guide them in managing their
is the key," insists Adams, whose background in mechanical engineering
and medical sciences, along with three patents and three spin-off companies
under his belt, makes him an ideal leader for the new Foundation. "We're
willing to do whatever it takes to maximize the potential of the innovative
research happening at U of T."
He also points out
that starting a business today is different from even a year ago. "The
rules of the game don't change that much, but the processes are always
changing," says Adams, "and we have to keep on top of that."
now," says Adams, "is to capture more technology opportunities
÷ to constantly be in touch with what's going on in the labs across campus,
at the hospitals and research centres, and in the business world beyond."
But the Foundation's
new goals won't change its highly selective process. While some licensing
offices are required to accept all inventions that come their way, the
Innovations Foundation carefully evaluates each technology, selecting
only the most promising ones. The result is a high-quality selection of
technology opportunities for licensees and investors.
A recent example
of the Foundation's work is the licensing of an innovative new product
called "biodiesel." Made from waste food grease, this organic
diesel fuel offers an economical and environmentally friendly alternative
to regular diesel. Unlike other alternative fuels, biodiesel can be used
in any regular diesel engine, and will potentially cut fossil fuel reliance
while reducing harmful emissions. Biodiesel's creator, Professor David
Boocock of chemical engineering and applied chemistry, has licensed the
product to California's Biodiesel Development Corporation with the help
of the Foundation. Canadian partners are currently being sought.
Finding the true gems
of innovation takes foresight and a keen ability to estimate the future
value of an idea. "What you need," he says, "is a great
deal of vision and faith in a new invention. It'll take years to pan out,
so you've got to be able to look down that road and see something really
great at the end of it."
- Althea Blackburn-Evans