In the last decade there has been a huge push for academic science to move from the ivory tower into the public forum. From crowd-funding for research to blogs for recent science results the benefits of social media are quickly being utilized for research. Although the mutual benefits of social interaction and funding for research are being recognized by researchers, developing and commercializing industrially relevant ideas is still very difficult.
In 2008, the presentation “Industry and Academic Partnerships that Build Global Capacity, Research and Next Generation Innovation” a campaign was presented to the U.S. Dept. of State. In this presentation the importance of industry relationships and feedback were discussed in detail. Many world renowned research institutions, such as the University of Washington (UW), have realized the importance academia and industry relationships and have developed departments dedicated to commercialization of products and ideas. This helps get ideas and products out of the university and into the hands of the public. Although the center for commercialization exists at UW it can still be very difficult to collaborate outside of the academic institution.
Flufinder is a great example of a project at the UW that is fostering a good connection with industry. This project hopes to put extremely accurate viral test kits, currently for the flu, into drugstores for consumer purchase. Although it is still in the early stages of development, the group working on the test already has collaborators with industry. In addition to these early industry connections PhD students in the group, such as Gina Fridley, are also taking steps towards receiving a business certificate to give their product an edge. This proactive approach at commercialization of this product may be an interesting article for Geekwire or Seattle Startup blogs.