The University of Utah has announced the establishment of a centralized office that will drive the university’s expanding efforts for economic engagement with the Utah community. Named the Partners for Innovation, Ventures, Outreach & Technology (PIVOT) Center, the new office builds on the work by the Center for Technology & Venture Commercialization (TVC) to serve as a hub to foster partnerships among industry, university and government entities, the UofU said in a press statement. “This effort formalizes the UofU’s commitment to increase its impact on Utah’s economy by catalyzing innovation,” the release said.
As a foundation for PIVOT Center, operations previously led by TVC will continue to assist the university’s faculty inventors in bringing their innovations to market by spearheading all aspects of invention management, patent prosecution, licensing, startup formation and support, equity management and early-stage funding. The new office leverages these existing resources and will hire new staff to oversee economic development and corporate engagement as well as to elicit feedback from internal and external stakeholders to improve how the university addresses their needs.
Keith Marmer, who has served as the executive director of TVC and corporate partnerships for the past four years, will lead PIVOT as chief innovation and economic engagement officer. He will report directly to university Pres. Ruth V. Watkin in his new capacity. Marmer has 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur, executive and investor. He has personally launched and scaled four companies as well as helped entrepreneurs raise more than $1 billion in investment capital. During the course of his career, Marmer has overseen the creation of more than 100 companies. Since joining the UofU, Marmer has helped transform the culture of commercialization, rolled out three accelerators, a business incubator and a venture fund to support startup companies.
“As one of America’s leading research universities and the flagship institution of our state, the U is a key player in generating new knowledge and enterprises that drive Utah’s vibrant economy,” Watkins said. “Keith brings a strong background and clear vision for how to refine our role in these endeavors and I am grateful for his leadership.”
Watkins added that the university’s ability to serve as a catalyst in bringing researchers, industry and government partners together is needed now more than ever due to the economic disruption caused by the pandemic. “This is a prime example of how we can fulfil our mission as the University for Utah,” she said.
Formation of the PIVOT Center resulted from a yearlong evaluation process commissioned by Watkins that included interviews with community and industry stakeholders and a survey sent to 7,000 faculty members. Feedback was virtually unanimous in advocating for a centralized office empowered by university leadership to expand economic enterprise and innovation. The office is tasked with leading a centralized and integrated strategy and operation for technology commercialization, corporate engagement and economic development.