UChicago’s Polsky Center provides faculty with full spectrum entrepreneurial support

May 20, 2021

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago is the central resource for transforming groundbreaking ideas and discoveries into new products, services, and ventures. Home of the University’s technology transfer office, which manages all intellectual property from faculty research, Polsky has a 25-year track record of applying world-class business expertise from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business to bring new ideas and breakthrough technologies to market. A dedicated team of scientists with deep technical expertise exclusively focused on enabling technology commercialization perform market analysis, manage intellectual property, identify partners, and negotiate partnerships and licenses for technologies developed by faculty, researchers, and staff.

"The Center manages inventions, software, and other intellectual property arising from University research, acting as the official University technology transfer office," said Eric Ginsburg, Senior Director of Intellectual Property and Technology Development at the Polsky Center. "It is never too early to reach out to the Polsky Center team about new work and discoveries that might have commercial potential."

Faculty can engage with the Polsky Center in a number of ways through a variety of programs and resources that are designed specifically for faculty and researchers. This includes a newly-launched deep tech accelerator, the Compass, through which participants gain access to world-class resources over the six-month program with the goal of being investor-ready at the conclusion of the program.

"The Polsky Center programs and resources are designed to address the unique and critically important needs of faculty innovators and faculty entrepreneurs," said Melissa Byrn, Polsky Center Director of Innovation Programs. "Central to this work is connecting the business and entrepreneurial community to our faculty and researchers."

Other programs include I-Corps, which awards $2,500 in micro-grants to test the commercial potential of an idea through customer discovery, and the Collaboratorium, which connects faculty with Booth students and alumni who may be interested in connecting to pursue further academic study, market research, a business partnership, or participation in an academic competition, such as the New Venture Challenge.

"My team had long been wholly focused on scientific discovery," said Issam Awad, John Harper Seeley Professor of Neurological Surgery. "While we interacted with Polsky previously on IP questions, we had never considered how our discoveries might be developed to help our patients directly. The exercise of preparing our five-minute Collaboratorium presentation, and others we heard, provided a totally new perspective on how to describe the value of our discoveries, beyond the narrow circle of scientific peer reviewers. And it was only a beginning. We subsequently pursued the I-Corps program, and built on the Collaboratorium message, to identify our 'customers' at this juncture of our discoveries, and develop a strategy to reach our prospective customers for feedback. We will actually be developing our Collaboratorium pitch as an informational video for prospective 'customers.'"

Additional opportunities for funding include the George Shultz Innovation Fund – which invests in promising startups from UChicago, Argonne, Fermilab, and the Marine Biological Laboratory – and the UChicago Startup Investment Program.

Taught by Chicago Booth Faculty, the Polsky Center also offers two introductory business courses for scientists and researchers. These free, non-credit, virtual, evening courses feature business and entrepreneurship content catered towards scientists and researchers. Faculty, staff, and graduate students have the opportunity to engage with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists and explore both the world of entrepreneurship and how they can make an impact through their research.

To learn more about the Polsky Center, submit this form or email polskylicensing@uchicago.edu