MagCorp creates “Shared IP Model” to help simplify partnership structure
Excerpted from the November 2021 issue of University-Industry Engagement Advisor. UIDP members can view the entire issue here.
Magnetics Corporation (MagCorp), a new company co-founded by alumni of Florida State University, has established what it asserts is a unique model for university-industry partnership, highlighted by a “Shared IP Model” that pre-designates the division of IP rights. The initial implementation of the model, which involves not only FSU but also the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory — a facility at FSU that has the highest-powered magnet laboratory in the world — was unveiled at a recent UIDPConnect 2021 session entitled, “Revolutionizing Technology Development Partnerships.” The model seeks to remove traditional barriers to university-industry collaborations, often involving IP conflicts.
The five-year agreement allows university researchers to work within the lab, with one of its main goals being the acceleration of magnet technology development. “We host users annually from 135 universities in the U.S. and 114 around the world; 20 government labs and 25 around the world; and 20 U.S. industry research groups and 13 overseas,” shared Greg Boebinger, a staff member in the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (MagLab). “When we have an idea that could be commercialized, we do not have the ability to do that.” In this new relationship, he asserted, “we can match the pace and deliberativeness of universities with the speed of industry.”
The idea for MagCorp was hatched several years ago through discussions with industry partners, said director and co-founder Jeff Whalen. Whalen has a PhD from FSU, served on the research faculty at MagLab for 10 years, and is now a STEM entrepreneur in residence at the university’s Jim Moran College of Entrepreneurship. He said that industry identified a gap between what was scientifically invigorating and what could make cash flow. “Those two don’t always mesh,” noted Whalen. “This problem-solving gap was the impetus for creating MagCorp, and the biggest driver.”
The commercial sector has been hesitant to cross the gap, Whalen asserted, because of confusion about the process. When you talk to commercial partners and ask why they don’t engage and try to leverage their assets, he explained, they respond with questions like “Who do I call?” “How do I start?” “Do they have what I need?” “What will the deal look like?” “How much will this cost?” “What kind of approvals do I need?”
In addition to such questions, Whalen noted, industry objections included the fact that universities operate at a different speed, which will not suffice for what they need to do operationally, and that when they talk to university representatives, they feel like they are getting a science lesson. “Nobody wants to talk about business opportunity,” he quoted one industry partner.
“There has just never been an advocate for facilitating this communication,” said Whalen. “We refer to MagCorp as a destination for scientists to have the infrastructure to solve problems that industry faces today — right now — to literally be able to put MagLab to work for industry partners.”