Research and Innovation Office restructures for streamlined, comprehensive approach

Three areas to support research, faculty and industry - including new Office of Enterprise and Innovation

Research and Innovation Office restructures for streamlined, comprehensive approach

Three areas to support research, faculty and industry - including new Office of Enterprise and Innovation

The latest phase in a comprehensive restructuring of the Office of Vice President Research and Innovation - the development of the new Office of Enterprise and Innovation - will strengthen research commercialization efforts in response to the wave of economic change and innovation in Nevada.

The overall restructuring of the VPRI office includes three main focuses - Enterprise and Innovation, Research Development and Research Administration - to better enable research, support faculty and strengthen industry connections in Nevada.

The new Office of Enterprise and Innovation, under the direction of an assistant vice president, includes the Innovation Center opening in downtown Reno, Nevada Industry Excellence (NVIE), the proposed Nevada Center for Applied Research and the new Enterprise and Commercialization service.

"This is an expansion of our research collaboration and business development efforts, adding and bringing together strategic functions," Mridul Gautam, vice president for research and innovation, said. "This will allow us to be nimble, address the current needs of the business community and enable us to have strategic foresight as we build our new economy."

Gautam initiated this new structure for an Enterprise and Commercialization service after much input from the campus research community and many meetings and discussions with industry and innovation leaders from around the state. The service will remain on the main campus as well as have a large presence in the University's Innovation Center downtown.

The Enterprise and Commercialization service will expand on traditional technology transfer functions such as patents, licensing, agreements, start-ups, spin-offs and corporate relations. The functions and resources from the Technology Transfer Office are being transitioned to and incorporated into the expanded role of the Office of Enterprise and Commercialization, which will continue to serve the University and Desert Research Institute. April Sferrazzo will continue to coordinate technology-transfer matters and is available at

"Some of the functions of the old Technology Transfer Office are absorbed and expanded in this office and other areas of our new VPRI office structure," Gautam said. "We expect a more streamlined and comprehensive approach to commercialization."

Another newly defined area, the proposed Nevada Center for Applied Research, will be available to support development of and access to the University's labs and research centers. As an example, it is proposed the Nevada Center for Applied Research will improve access by providing a single portal through which researchers from across campus and private industry can schedule lab time, services and equipment online. University lab resources, from testing operations to renting highly specialized equipment for a set period of time, would be available to industry and innovators.

The University's 200 labs cover a wide range of topics, such as proteomics, mining, manufacturing, biology, physics, chemistry, materials engineering, robotics, autonomous systems and earthquake engineering. Lab users can conduct a variety of operations, including chemical analysis, protein analysis, materials characterization and analysis, spectral analysis and advanced imaging on state-of-the-art equipment.

"We want to leverage the intellectual and physical assets on campus so we can help Nevada industry be nationally and globally competitive," he said. "This means opening our labs and our ideas to our business partners and neighbors to help strengthen collaborations and private business development."

Another arm of the new Office of Enterprise and Innovation, the Innovation Center, will host maker-space opportunities and provide a launch-pad for research and development in downtown Reno. In the University's building at 450 Sinclair Street, it will be a space for students, faculty and businesses to innovate and collaborate with business entrepreneurs, investors and commercialization experts. Renovation of the building is underway and portions of the building are expected to open in summer.

The fourth sector moving under the umbrella of the new Office of Enterprise and Innovation is Nevada Industry Excellence, the statewide Manufacturing Extension Program of the Nevada System of Higher Education now hosted through the University. This group works directly with Nevada manufacturing companies, providing information, decision support and implementation assistance in adopting new and more advanced technologies, techniques and best business practices. Nevada Industry Excellence has built a reputation as Nevada's leading resource for manufacturing businesses.

The new structure for the VPRI's office began in fall of last year with the reorganization and appointment of Charlene Hart as the new assistant vice president for research administration. The Office of Sponsored Projects, Environmental Health and Safety, Lab Animal Medicine and Human Research Protection, Effort Reporting and Export Controls now report to Hart.

In the Research Development office, undergraduate research, EPSCOR research programs and INBRE fall under the purview of the associate vice president for Research Development. An internal search process for the associate vice president for Research Development position is under way and it is hoped the search will be concluded and an appointment announced in March.

"We're using about the same amount of money but doing a lot more," Gautam said. "It's a re-allocation of resources. For example, budget resources previously allocated to the Tech Transfer office will be redirected to the new Enterprise and Innovation office."

The national hiring search for the new assistant vice president for Enterprise and Innovation will begin soon.

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