Innovation Engine

The concept of major universities as "innovation engines" is gaining traction.  A recent example is the September, 2010 publication of Engines of Innovation: The Entrepreneurial University in the Twenty-First Century.

To answer "What is an innovation engine?", here's an explanation of the metaphor by Jim Flowers, executive director of VT KnowledgeWorks:

If I think through the parts of an automobile drive train, starting with fuel and ending with motion at the wheels, it seems reasonable to classify the invention or intellectual property (IP) as the explosion inside the cylinder.  Before the explosion, all the energy is still in a “potential” state.  In this metaphor, the engine block is the university.  The fuel is the brainpower of the people.  After the explosion, some of the potential energy has been transformed into motion (though much is lost as radiated heat, sigh).  The transmission is roughly equivalent to the business start-up process.  I say roughly, because the entrepreneur who takes the invention to market clearly adds significant energy to the system at this point, so the automobile analogy breaks down.  Motion at the wheels is company growth.

Intellectual property generation and application at VT KnowledgeWorks are parts of the innovation engine of the two rivers region of Virginia - the New River Valley and the Roanoke River Valley – made possible by the presence of Virginia Tech.

In an analysis of patent portfolios, Virginia Tech ranked 10th among universities globally in the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Spectrum Patent Power Scorecards

According to Mark Coburn, President of Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties, VTIP, the following VT KnowledgeWorks companies are current licensees of VTIP:

Cooperative Leadership Institute (Alumni)


VT KnowledgeWorks is a unique growth enhancement program open to entrepreneurs in the New River Valley and beyond.  Acceleration center and incubation facilities are located in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg, Virginia.  Programs for Members are divided into two categories according to the evolutionary status of the member company.  Pre-Launch program components are carefully constructed to help market-worthy ventures organize, formulate strategy, obtain outside investment, and launch in an efficient manner.  Enterprise class members benefit from emphasis on strategic support for ongoing growth, continuing intra-preneurship, and professional development for the corporate leader.

VT KnowledgeWorks sponsors include Attaain, Inc., BB&T, Handshake 2.0, Harris Office Furniture, Hodges, Jones & Mabry, P.C., Hutchison Law GroupLeClairRyan, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and The Becher Agency (TBA).

Speak Your Mind