Princeton workshop brings together scientists, investors

Jan. 5, 2001 5:17 p.m.

More than 250 investment professionals attended a workshop Friday to hear presentations by Princeton scientists whose research has potential commercial applications. The workshop focused on the burgeoning fields of photonics, nanotechnology, and biotechnology.

The event was a first for the University and is part of an increasing effort to create industry-university partnerships to develop scientific findings into commercial technologies.

The workshop, which included talks by industry leaders about trends and opportunities in science entrepreneurship, featured talks by 18 scientists on subjects ranging from neuroscience to optical devices for a faster Internet.

The response from both faculty members and the business community has been "most rewarding," said Joseph X. Montemarano, the director for industrial liaison at POEM , Princeton's Center for Photonics and Optoelectronic Materials.

The workshop was organized by POEM in collaboration with the Princeton Materials Institute (PMI), and the offices of Technology Licensing at Princeton University and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.

"This is a monumental event for Princeton," said Caren S. Franzini, executive director of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. "Princeton, to the outside business community, is viewed as a university that is very internal. Today marks a day when Princeton says 'We do have valuable research being done here and it does have commercial applications and it's a good thing.'"

Partnerships with industry are essential to a vibrant engineering program, POEM director James Sturm told the group. "We can't survive as an academic institution, as an intellectual enterprise on our own," he said. "Even if Princeton does not make a dime, we need these partnerships if we are going to succeed."

For many scientists in attendance, making presentations to investors was a novel experience, but one that they view as increasingly valuable.

"I never imagined I would be talking to a group whose interests are primarily in commercializing technology," said neuroscientist Joseph Z. Tsien. "Now I see it more positively, as one component of a dynamic research project."

Contact: Justin Harmon (609) 258-3601