Technology Evaluation Program Connects Researchers to Business World

December 16, 2004

Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering, in collaboration with RTI International, has launched a new program designed to identify, evaluate and bring research products to market.

Unlike traditional technology transfer processes found at most universities today, the new program, named TechEval, pairs researchers with experienced business leaders and students from the Masters of Engineering Management (MEM) program at Duke who then evaluate the technology in a practical, real-world environment. Qualified inventions are taken rapidly through the evaluation process in about 14 weeks.

The TechEval program is an exciting opportunity for our students to help researchers evaluate their research for its commercial potential,” said Jeff Glass, PhD, the MEM program director. “It enhances both our educational mission and our goals of societal impact for our research. It is a unique opportunity that I hope many of our faculty and graduate students take advantage of.”

The TechEval team organized a launch event in mid-November, in which professors, researchers, local venture capitalists and consultants came together to learn more about the program and its potential role in the commercialization of technologies that are emerging in the Triangle area. Several researchers have signed up to participate in the program as a result.

Researchers do not always have the time, resources and business connections to easily understand the value and impact of their innovation in the marketplace,” said Jesko von Windheim, lead instructor and entrepreneur in residence at RTI. “As a result, many inventions never realize their market potential, or worse, an innovator spends too much time moving the technology in the wrong direction.

The best investment an innovator can make is validating his or her technology with real potential customers during the early stages of technology development. That is what we are doing at RTI and it is also the essence of what we do in the TechEval course.”

TechEval enables early-stage technology evaluation for the entire university, regardless of school or technology application. The program operates in conjunction with other resources that provide business planning services, such as the Duke New Ventures Fellowship and the Duke New Ventures Clinic.

The Master of Engineering Management professional degree program at Duke develops future industry leaders by combining a core management curriculum with a master’s level technical education and an engineering internship. The program includes business law, finance, marketing and management with an emphasis on technology management and entrepreneurship. In addition, students choose technical electives from a wide variety of courses within the Pratt School of Engineering, in other schools at Duke and at nearby North Carolina State University.

RTI International is an independent nonprofit research organization dedicated to conducting research and development that improves the human condition. With a staff of more than 2,500 people, RTI offers innovative research and technical solutions to governments and businesses worldwide in the areas of health and pharmaceuticals, advanced technology, surveys and statistics, education and training, economic and social development, and the environment. For more information, visit.