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Fang said he received important encouragement both from people on campus and at Greater Binghamton companies to pursue his discovery. Such support is vital, especially because it can take three years or longer to complete the process of applying for a patent.

Scott Hancock, assistant director of technology transfer at Binghamton, said the patent process is arduous but also useful and stimulating. He has seen faculty members’ work take on a new direction after meeting with a patent attorney and reconsidering one element of their idea or another.

That process helps to prepare researchers to respond to the challenges that often lie ahead as licensing deals are worked out and investors consider whether to become involved in a project.

“We’re trying to maximize returns to the University, inventors, the region and students,” Hancock said. “We take a big-picture view. It’s a partnership. We need the faculty member’s active collaboration. It’s a hands-on endeavor that requires time, creativity and insight.”

Fang said technology transfer challenges faculty members to consider the needs of industry in a way that pure research usually does not. “It certainly requires different thinking,” he said.

That’s not to say that technology transfer is a distraction from research and teaching, however. In fact, Krentsel places technology transfer at the core of a research institution’s goals.

“What is the mission of a university?” he asked. “It’s the creation and dissemination of knowledge. Now think about what technology is. It’s part of knowledge. When you look at technology transfer as a part of the creation and dissemination of knowledge, it becomes part of the critical mission of any university.”

— Rachel Coker

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