As a result of a partnership between the University and the U.S. Department of Commerce, Cornell-NYC Tech students will have access to federal resources to support entrepreneurship, according to an announcement made by President David Skorton on Tuesday.
As part of the partnership, USPTO staff member Sue Purvis will support technology entrepreneurship both at the tech campus and in the greater New York region. She will help tech campus students start businesses by helping them navigate the patent process and work with the commerce department, according to Dan Huttenlocher, dean of the tech campus.
“[The partnership is] to assist people in getting connected to the right resources in the federal government [and] to assist commercialization in navigating the patent process, small business loans and grants, trademark types of issues — essentially all the resources the commerce department has for people starting businesses,” Huttenlocher said.
The partnership is the first of its kind that the commerce department has made, according to the press release. Through the partnership, the department will be able to obtain feedback about the role it should be playing in the quickly growing field of technology, according to Huttenlocher.
“It will start a dialogue between the commerce department and the tech campus so the government can learn more about tech innovation and be more informed as it creates programs,” Huttenlocher said.
Huttenlocher said the partnership between the tech campus and the Commerce Department will work as a “two-way street.”
“One example is we plan to convene a symposium looking at software patents, which is a very controversial area,” Huttenlocher said. “This is exactly what an academic campus should be doing: getting together experts on controversial issues, having discussions about different viewpoints [and] helping educate and expose people in relevant agencies in government as to what the issues are.”
Leaders of the commerce department and the Patent Office initiated the partnership with Cornell and will be providing the resources for the venture, according to Huttenlocher. The partnership is considered a pilot program and may be replicated elsewhere, depending on the success of the venture at the tech campus.
The partnership illustrates the key role partnerships with outside organizations will play in the development of the tech campus, Huttenlocher said, adding that tech campus administrators have always viewed the involvement of multiple groups –– including academia, government, the business community and the non-profit sector –– as crucial to the tech campus’ success.
Huttenlocher pointed to last month’s addition of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and former computer science professor and entrepreneur Irwin Jacobs to the tech campus’ advisory board as an example of the formative role different sectors will play in the tech campus.
Purvis –– who is the innovation and outreach coordinator for the USPTO –– will serve as a liaison between the federal government and the tech campus, according to Huttenlocher. She is based at the tech campus’ temporary headquarters in Chelsea and will move to the Roosevelt Island campus when it is completed.
Purvis told The Sun that she has worked with the Patent Office since 1998, formerly serving as the advisor to the under-secretary for the deputy director of the office.
At Cornell, Purvis said she will not be examining patent applications or issuing patents; but instead familiarizing and assisting students with the patent process.
“The Department of Commerce is made up of a lot of different agencies, and many of them have tools startups can use to help their business,” Purvis said. “I’m going to be a resource they can go to [to] ask questions; I’m going to point them in the direction that will be of assistance to them. If the students have any questions about intellectual property, I can help them out."
The specific role the resource center will play in terms of intellectual property on the CornellNYC Tech campus is hard to predict, Huttenlocher said.
“It’s going to be something that is really up to students and faculty as they start to do their research and educational projects,” Huttenlocher said. “We’re really just at the stage where we’re putting infrastructure in place to make it easy for people to do things … it’s just too soon to tell.”