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Tech ventures group changes focus to marketing new innovations, ideas


September 10, 2010

A multidisciplinary program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University that trains students to provide legal and business consulting services to cash-strapped entrepreneurs in Arizona has been renamed to reflect its expanded client base and service offerings.

The old Technology Ventures Services Group, a for-credit course for ASU graduate students in law, business, and engineering, plus some undergraduate programs, now is called the Innovation Advancement Program (IAP). The change was made to reflect the program’s broadened focus on innovation generally, not just technology start-up companies. Additionally, students in the law school’s Healthcare Entrepreneurship Clinic and Lisa Foundation Patent Law Clinic now are working in conjunction with the new program.

Paul Schiff Berman, Dean of the College of Law, called the IAP “a model program for the nation.”

“Under President Michael Crow, ASU seeks to lead the nation in nurturing new generations of entrepreneurs, who will be the drivers of the state’s and the nation’s economic prosperity,” Berman said. “These entrepreneurs need legal assistance during the crucial start-up phase, but that is precisely the moment when such legal support is often unaffordable. Our newly expanded Innovation Advancement Program brings law, business, and engineering students together to offer the sort of legal and business planning services that will make innovation possible.”

Eric Menkhus, a clinical professor at the College of Law and director of the IAP, said the new name more accurately reflects the breadth of the clinic’s work. While the TVSG assisted technology start-up companies only, the IAP now will also work with innovators in health care, select new non-profit organizations, and other innovative companies or individuals poised to positively impact Arizona. The IAP will continue to be housed at SkySong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center.

“The program will offer expanded educational opportunities for our students while servicing a wider array of clients who are poised to lead Arizona’s economic recovery and future stability,” Menkhus said. “An innovation culture is key to the economic diversity of any great city, and this program will help those innovators implement their ideas and programs.”

In accordance with the renaming, the TVSG’s Technology Ventures Legal Clinic, comprising law students who handle business formation, employment issues, licensing, limited patent work, and other intellectual property issues, is now the Innovation Advancement Legal Clinic. And Technology Ventures Consulting, in which other ASU students perform market research and analysis, technology and supply chain assessments, financial model creation, leadership team analysis and other business-planning services, has been renamed Innovation Advancement Consulting.

Students in the program are supervised by Menkhus and its in-residence professionals - the Hool Law Group of Phoenix (www.hoollawgroup.com), and business consultant Tom Fulcher, founder of the Valley-based The Idea Gardener (www.theideagardener.com). To date, the program has helped an inventor bring to market his anti-theft catalytic converter device, assisted a former African physician achieve non-profit status for his Arizona corporation to deliver health care to the Congo, and performed market research for a Phoenix CPA launching an innovative tax-return scoring system, among many other clients.

Additionally, the IAP has renewed its partnership with ASU’s Arizona Technology Enterprises (AzTE), the university’s exclusive intellectual property management and technology transfer organization.

Ken Polasko, Deputy Managing Director and Senior Vice President of Business Development for AzTE, said he is impressed with the caliber of law, business, engineering, and other students in the IAP, which plays an important role in AzTE’s mission of accelerating ASU’s use-inspired innovations into the marketplace.

“We need individuals who can think along a number of dimensions – technology, business and legal. The students in Eric’s program have demonstrated that they have the background to effectively integrate these dimensions and add value to our process,” Polasko said. “I also believe that the experience that these students gain in the IAP will serve the students very well in their future careers.”

The IAP also publishes a biannual e-newsletter, The Catalyst. To read the current issue, go to law.asu.edu/IAP.

Janie Magruder, Jane.Magruder@asu.edu
(480) 727-9052
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law