Directors of leading US university tech transfer offices meet with government and top UK universities to discuss commercialisation

LONDON—Two of the most innovative US universities, along with their UK counterparts, will meet with the minister and innovation and industrial strategy leaders from UK government on Monday 25 February. 

Lesley Millar-Nicholson, Director of MIT’s Technology Licensing Office, and Karin Immergluck, Executive Director of Stanford’s Office of Technology Licensing, were invited by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Cambridge Enterprise Chief Executive Tony Raven to confer with UK policymakers and university peers.

Participants in Monday’s meetings, held at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, include Chris Skidmore MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation; David Sweeney, Executive Chair of Research England; leaders from HMT and the Industrial Strategy Board as well as the heads of technology transfer at the universities of Cambridge and Manchester, Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) and Cancer Research UK (CRUK). 

Millar-Nicholson and Immergluck will join the “6U” group of UK universities—Cambridge, Edinburgh, Imperial, Manchester, Oxford and UCL—which meets regularly to exchange strategies and best practices for commercialising research. The goal is to share expertise and identify areas for international collaboration.  

Both the US and UK are committed to increasing the economic return on government-funded R&D investment. In the US, this policy is embodied in the forthcoming Return on Investment Initiative. In the UK, the Industrial Strategy has identified universities as key drivers of innovation. 

Technology transfer offices (TTOs) play a critical part in turning early-stage, research-based inventions into products, therapeutics and services to benefit everyone. TTOs help academics solve real world problems, create jobs and attract investment in local, regional and national economies.

MIT Technology Licensing Office’s Director, Lesley Millar-Nicholson, said: “The value in bringing together leaders in university technology transfer to share best practices and discuss commercialisation strategies for translating early stage technologies into impact for society cannot be overstated. Understanding the various challenges and value drivers in different economic and innovation ecosystems goes a long way to helping build effective and efficient translational models across the globe. It is my privilege to be invited to participate and contribute knowledge gained in my roles at MIT and also at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.”

Research England’s Executive Chair, David Sweeney, said:“The UK operates at the leading edge of world standard in technology transfer. But we want to build a more R&D intensive economy and effective commercialisation is a key driver towards the Government’s 2.4% R&D target. So, we need to do more. And we need to be open to innovations and best practices from across the globe. Our American cousins are skilled at commercialisation. I look forward to learning from experts from American and UK universities with long track records and scale in technology transfer, and to comparing our world leading ecosystems, such as the Cambridge Cluster, with those of Stanford in Silicon Valley and of MIT in Kendall Square.” 

Cambridge Enterprise Chief Executive Tony Raven said: “The UK and US universities creating this new group are world leaders in the commercialisation of university research. My UK colleagues and I are looking forward to working with Karin and Lesley in sharing, comparing, and advancing international best practice in university research commercialisation for the benefit of our economies and societies locally, nationally and globally.”

To arrange an interview with Lesley Millar-Nicholson, Karin Immergluck, or Tony Raven on Monday 25 February at BEIS, please contact Catherine Aman.

Catherine Aman
Press and Media Manager
Cambridge Enterprise
01223 760335
07841 086234

Sophie Mason
Head of Communications
Research England
0117 905 7612


Dr. Karin Immergluck joined Stanford University last year as the new Executive Director of the Office of Technology Licensing, where she leads a team of technology development, licensing and industry contracting professionals. Prior to joining Stanford, Dr Immergluck worked in technology transfer at the University of California, initially for three years at the University of California Office of the President, and then for 14 years at University of California San Francisco (UCSF), where she eventually led the Office of Technology Management as Executive Director for five years. 

Under her leadership, UCSF became a pioneering national leader in digital health licensing; faculty were more actively engaged resulting in a 25% increase in invention disclosures and overall licensing productivity was increased by nearly 40%.  Dr. Immergluck has taught several classes and workshops on intellectual property commercialisation and is a regularly invited speaker at national and international conferences. She has also served as an advisor to several European governments and academic institutions. 

Dr. Immergluck serves as a member of the Executive Board of the Academic Venture Exchange, which is a collaborative exchange of the leading US universities in innovation that improves research-driven start-up teams by connecting them with entrepreneurs and investors. She has also been serving on the Board of Governors for the Certified Licensing Professionals, Inc. 

Dr. Immergluck received her MS equivalent in Biochemistry and her PhD in Developmental Molecular Genetics from the University of Zurich in Switzerland. She conducted her doctoral research at UCSF under the dual tutelage of Nobel Laureate and former UCSF Chancellor Dr. J. Michael Bishop and Professor and former President of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Dr. Ernst Hafen. 

Lesley Millar-Nicholson has been the Director of MIT Technology Licensing Office (TLO) since July 2016. She leads a team of professional staff managing the intellectual assets and technology transfer process for MIT’s inventions. 

Located in Kendall Square, the TLO is responsible for engagement with faculty, staff, and students and for the efficient and effective transfer of IP into the marketplace to ensure impact on society. Working with MIT start-up companies, VCs, and corporate partners, the team manages over 800 new inventions a year from the MIT and Lincoln Lab campuses. 

The MIT portfolio includes over 10,000 issued and pending US and foreign patents and over 1,000 active licenses. The TLO is an integral part of the MIT innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem, working closely with its many programs and centres established to harness the amazing innovations from MIT faculty, students, and staff.  

Prior to arriving in Cambridge, Ms. Millar-Nicholson served for ten years as Director of the Office of Technology Management (OTM) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Ms. Millar-Nicholson is a past President of the Board of Governors of Certified Licensing Professionals Inc (CLP Inc.) and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Licensing Executive Society (LES). A native of Scotland, Ms. Millar-Nicholson has a BEd, MEd, and MBA, and is a Certified Licensing Professional.

Published February 25, 2019