The Ten Initiatives: Commercializing UNH's Intellectual Capital

Commercializing UNH's Intellectual Capital

Point Person: Jan Nisbet, senior vice provost for research

The University can and should be the primary engine for sustainable economic growth in the state and region. We will work more closely with private sector entrepreneurs to translate UNH-generated intellectual capital into new ventures and new jobs for the people of New Hampshire.

Relevant working group reports

Group 1 – Breaking Silos, Scrambling Categories: Integrating the Academy Horizontally and Vertically
Group 2 – Research: New Frontiers and Old Challenges
Group 5 – New Markets: Generating Resources to Meet Core Missions
Group 7 – Communities and Alliances: Expanding and Deepening UNH’s Strategic Partnerships

Download all. (pdf)

What's happened in the last year

After a national search, Marc Sedam was named the executive director of the UNH’s Office for Research Partnerships and Commercialization (ORPC). Sedam graduated from UNH in 1993 with a BS in biochemistry and holds an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Sedam’s extensive experience in managing innovation, technology transfer and startup formation will enable him to lead the University’s efforts to protect and promote the intellectual property of the UNH community as well as foster partnerships between UNH and the business community.  He recently earned the Certified Licensing Professional™ (CLP) credential, a certification available to practicioners who have established a combination of high-level expertise in licensing intellectual property with high-impact transactions.  Approximately 800 professionals have received the CLP designation.

ORPC  launched UNH’s renewed focus on the use and commercialization of University innovations across all disciplines by hosting  the Innovation Catalyst Seminar Series.   These monthly seminars address  issues related to commercializing UNH’s innovations, including current and emerging best practices on campus. The seminars are open to all and designed to be a meeting place for innovators, entrepreneurs, service providers, etc.  The well-attended sessions covered topics that included an introduction to the ORPC and its philosophies on UNH innovations, “Intellectual Property 101,” best practices for working with third parties, and intellectual property issues unique to creative works. 

ORPC also hosted a series of seminars and workshops to provide guidance to businesses and individuals applying for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants.  The presentations by Lisa Kurek of BBC Consulting took place in a variety of locations across the state and were sponsored by ORPC, the NH Innovation Research Center (NHIRC), the NH Bio/Medical Council, the NH Small Business Development Center

The Green Launching Pad (GLP)is a public and private sector initiative that enables local start-ups to bring green solutions to market.  Interdisciplinary teams of scientists, engineers, economists, faculty, entrepreneurs, and others compete for support from the GLP.  So far, the GLP has conducted two competitions and has selected 11 companies to support with the financial resources, business infrastructure, and academic expertise to succeed.  The Green Launching Pad is a strategic partnership of University of New Hampshire and New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning, with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (ARRA).

The New Hampshire Innovation Research Center (NHIRC) was established in 1992 by the New Hampshire legislature to provide a mechanism to increase collaboration between NH businesses and university-based researchers.  The businesses propose projects in collaboration with researchers, typically at Dartmouth College or the University of New Hampshire. Companies then match their project awards to fund the research, which often leads to new production methods or products, job growth, and increased revenues.  NHIRC currently is supporting thirteen collaborations.  Four of the nine new awards made in 2011 were supplemented by federal funds through the National Science Foundation’s EPSCoR program. 

The New Hampshire Innovation Commercialization Center (NH-ICC), in partnership with UNH, is dedicated to accelerating the development of early stage high technology startups and to the commercialization of UNH intellectual capital.  In January, the NH-ICC received a NHIRC grant to commercialize a thin, lightweight, organic surface-emitting semiconductor coating for OLED [organic light emitting diode] applications. Innovacene, a New Hampshire-based startup company established by UNH Professor of Chemistry Glen Miller with assistance from the Green Launching Pad, developed the semiconductor technology. The NH-ICC will use the funds to apply the technology to the development of efficient lighting solutions that will offer enhanced natural light with minimal energy consumption.

Building statewide capacity in academic research infrastructure is the goal of the NH EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research). In New Hampshire, the NSF EPSCoR program is based at the University of New Hampshire and administered by the UNH Senior Vice Provost for Research and a Statewide Committee composed of 16 members representing industry, the executive and legislative branches, and higher education.  Research and outreach activities funded by the NSF EPSCoR awards in NH have created new collaborations between colleges and universities, with the private sector, and with K-12 educators.

In October, NH EPSCoR submitted a proposal to NSF for $20 million in new funding for 2011–2016. Entitled Interactions Among Climate, Land Use and Ecosystem Services, the overarching project objective is to better understand complex interactions among climate, land use, ecosystem function and services and society. Infrastructure investments are proposed for integrated terrestrial and aquatic sensor networks; integrated climate, hydrological and ecosystem models; and a state-of-the-art aircraft remote sensing platform. Cyberinfrastructure investments would be made in a 24-strand fiber optic link to provide a rich data infrastructure to enable enhanced research and educational initiatives. Collectively, these investments would improve the state's capacity for examining interactions among climate, ecosystems and human activities and for providing decision relevant information to a wide range of stakeholders. The proposed work brings together disciplines of earth, atmospheric, environmental and ecological sciences; ecological economics; sociology; demography; and engineering in a coordinated effort that will build infrastructure, social, and human capital for competitive research.  Project partners include:




Research and Education

Dartmouth College

Great Bay Community College

Green Launching Pad

Keene State College

NH Innovation and Commercialization Center

NH Innovation Research Center

Plymouth State University

St. Anselm College

University of New Hampshire

White Mountains Community College


Granite State Distance Learning Network

Hubbard Brook Research Foundation

Keene State College – Science Education

Mt. Washington Observatory

NH Cooperative Extension 4-H

NH Energy and Climate Collaborative

NH STEM Advisory Council

Plymouth State University – Center for the Environment

Seacoast Science Center


University of New Hampshire  – Joan and James Leitzel Center

   for Mathematics, Science, and Engineering Education

University of New Hampshire  – Tech Camp

Diversity Strategy Committee

New Hampshire College & University Council

The Center for Integrated Computation and Analysis of Reconnection and Turbulence (CICART) was awarded a second, 3-year period of funding by the Department of Energy’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (DOE/EPSCoR) last year. This collaboration between the University of New Hampshire and Dartmouth College that seeks to develop innovative interdisciplinary approaches on problems of longstanding importance related to magnetic reconnection and turbulence by providing avenues of knowledge transfer between astrophysics, fluid dynamics, fusion, and space physics is now supported by DoE through 2013.

What's happening now and plans for the future

Under the auspices of the NH EPSCoR Statewide Committee, a dynamic and evolutionary NH Science and Technology Plan is being developed by Ross Gittell (Professor of Management, UNH Whittemore School of Business and Economics) and and John Orcutt (Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Professor of Law, UNH School of Law).  The NH S&T Plan seeks to provide New Hampshire policy makers with the data and analytical tools needed to create a business climate that fosters innovation and technology-based economic growth.  The final report and a “tool kit” that will facilitate tracking of key indicators of New Hampshire’s innovation system is expected to be released by the end of the summer. 

The Office for Research Partnerships and Commercialization’s  Innovation Catalyst Seminar Series will resume in Fall 2011. Additional workshops, seminars and events to foster partnerships and support UNH efforts to protect to protect and promote the intellectual property of the UNH community are being planned.

Mary W.S. Wong has been named the inaugural director of the newly-established Franklin Pierce Center for Intellectual Property at the UNH School of Law at the UNH School of Law. The Franklin Pierce Center for Intellectual Property builds on the law school’s international reputation for educating global intellectual property leaders. The Center will promote global economic development by facilitating research and training in the protection and use of intellectual property for technological innovation. The IP Center's mission will be advanced with significant national and international conferences and symposia, as well as the creation of new strategic alliances with leading organizations throughout the world.

NASA EPSCoR, a merit-based program supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration , is designed to strengthen research capabilities in aerospace and aerospace-related research activities. NH NASA EPSCoR currently  has four projects - three active ones and one just approved for funding.  The ongoing projects are:

  • a collaboration among space science and engineering investigators at University of New Hampshire, Dartmouth College, and BAE Systems of NA that is working to position NH for opportunities to deploy small satellites in research and other applications.
  • a partnership between NH state agencies, private industry, and an interdisciplinary university research team to combine satellite imagery, field samples, human health data, and mathematical models to study the ecology and risk factors of Lyme disease in the northern US.
  • a multi-year study of Icing Assessments in Cold & Alpine Environments, which will characterize terrain-induced icing conditions that can be detrimental to aviation being conducted by the Mount Washington Observatory, Plymouth State University and the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, NH.

The fourth project, approved for funding in June, 2011, will explore how satellite remote sensing data can be used to predict when and where flooding  caused by snowmelt will occur. It will be conducted by the University of New Hampshire in partnership with the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory.

The Northeast Cyberinfrastructure Consortium (NECC) is a consortium of five states (ME, VT, NH, RI, DE) that are collaborating on building resilient, high-bandwidth connectivity between research and academic institutions in the Northeast region.  Grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have provided funds to improve cyberinfrastructure capabilities and initiate specific fiber, research, workforce development and training, educational outreach and diversity programs.  The NECC in the midst of its first-ever competition for NECC Regional Awards for Cyberenabled Research (RACER). The RACER pilot awards, which are designed to initiate collaborative, cyber-enabled research among investigators in NECC states, will be announced in late summer.

Network New Hampshire Now (NNHN) is a collaboration of public and private organizations, led by the University of New Hampshire, to develop a high-speed broadband network throughout the state, including fiber optic networks in all 10 counties of the state, fiber optic networks in the limited access Right of Way of I-93, a microwave wireless network for public safety, and fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) in Rindge and Enfield.  NNHN is funded by $44.5 million from the federal Broadband Technology and Opportunities Program (BTOP) matched with $22 million in private and in-kind funding. In June, 2011, NNHN awarded a contract to NH-based Green Mountain Communications, Inc. to construct NHSafeNet, a single high-speed statewide broadband microwave network that will improve the communications, efficiency and emergency readiness of state and local agencies.  

Due to budget constraints within the State, funding for the New Hampshire Innovation Research Center (NHIRC) was cut 60% for 2012-2013; the NH Department of Resource Economics and Development will provide NHIRC with $200,000 per year.   In response, the focus of the NHIRC during this period is likely to be on providing assistance to New Hampshire companies to obtain SBIR [Small Business Innovation Research] awards and other leveraged funding from  federal sources.  The Center will provide the specifics of the competition for NHIRC awards in early fall on its new website.

A recent US Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to the  New Hampshire Innovation Commercialization Center (NH-ICC) will provide funds for NH-ICC  to select high potential early stage companies and provide them with a combination of business resources, seed capital and “hands on involvement” by seasoned startup executives.  It is expected that this funding will allow NH-ICC to accelerate 6 - 7 new innovative startup companies over the next 12 months with better than 75% survival rate to successful integration with other companies or to IPO, leading to the creation of310 to 420 new highly-desirable technology sector jobs  in the Seacoast and Southern NH region.   

The NH-ICC project also has been awarded tax credits through the Community Development Investment Program (CDIP) of the New Hampshire Community Develop Finance Authority (CDFA).  These tax credits will be a powerful fundraising tool  - the NH-ICC will receive 80% of the value of each donation made in its name to the CDFA.  The CDFA tax credits are expected to help NH-ICC secure the funds required to match the EDA grant and to cover the remaining costs of accelerating the startups.