In a Q&A with Drexel’s Senior Vice President for Corporate Relations and Economic Development Keith Orris explains how Drexel Ventures connects companies, investors, entrepreneurs to basic research and collaborates with faculty to scale innovation.
1. What is Drexel Ventures?
Drexel Ventures is the front door to University innovation and technology commercialization. We reconfigured the traditional university model for tech transfer by consolidating and expanding services across the commercialization continuum for faculty, companies, investors and entrepreneurs into one office. Our professional team connects companies, investors and entrepreneurs to basic and translational research, IP, and investment opportunities and closely collaborates with faculty to create, curate and scale innovation. Drexel Ventures also works within the Philadelphia ecosystem to attract venture capital, nurture entrepreneurial talent and build new initiatives, including ic@3401, a University City based incubator and Schuylkill Yards, a unique innovation district at the gateway to Drexel’s campus.
1. How does Drexel Ventures support startup ideas generated by faculty?
There is no one formula, but there are a number of strategies that work for us including:
- Meet with Drexel faculty, listen to their ideas and advise them about intellectual property, prototype development, market readiness, investment potential, and corporate structures.
- Coach faculty as they scale their innovations for commercialization through one-on-one strategic advisory meetings and our new Proof of Concept Academy which takes promising technologies, builds a core team around the faculty inventor and evaluates the market need based from “on-the-ground “customer immersion.” Successful graduates of the Academy will be competitive candidates for seed funding.
- License faculty-generated IP to the companies most capable of getting their inventions into the marketplace. This could be household names in the pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries or promising, disruptive start-up companies.
- Provide non-dilutive internal gap funding for proof of principle and proof of concept as a catalyst for first institutional and professional investment.
- Offer incubation space where Drexel start-ups are exposed to other innovators and resources to expand their growth trajectory.
- Support business development opportunities by connecting Drexel’s community of innovators to other entrepreneurs, strategic partners and funding sources in the regional and national innovation ecosystems.
3. Tell us about a recent startup company Drexel Ventures has helped to launch?
Context Therapeutics is a startup that was created to further develop and commercialize novel treatments for prostate cancer discovered by Dr. Felix Kim of Drexel’s College of Medicine. Drexel Ventures worked with investor and local entrepreneur Martin Lehr to help launch Context Therapeutics which has gone on to raise several million dollars of funding. Drexel continues to support the company’s activities to further develop the technology through the Drexel-Coulter Translational Partnership which provides financial and technical support for translational biomedical research.