WMU News

WMU will establish research foundation

Dec. 15, 2003

KALAMAZOO--Acting at its Dec. 12 meeting, the Western Michigan University Board of Trustees gave its approval for the establishment of a research foundation designed to support University research efforts and facilitate the commercialization of patents and other technologies developed at the University.

In related action, the board formally confirmed the University's acceptance of a $10 million award from the state of Michigan for the Biosciences Research and Commercialization Center at WMU. The award was approved by the Legislature in July. On Dec. 1, the state's Technology Tri-Corridor Steering Committee approved the University's Business Plan for the BRCC, and a contract for disbursement of the award is being finalized between WMU and the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

The Western Michigan University Research Foundation was established, by unanimous action of trustees, as a nonprofit 501(c)3 support corporation that exists only to benefit WMU. Creation of the foundation also is a critical step in the launch of the BRCC, which was established by the board July 30. The research foundation is part of the new center's business plan, which was recently approved by Michigan's Tri-Technology Corridor Steering Committee.

The WMU Board approved articles of incorporation, adopted a set of proposed bylaws for the WMURF and authorized the University administration to take all appropriate action to establish and operate the research foundation.

According to WMU Vice President for Research Jack Luderer, most major research universities use research foundations as a legal entity through which a number of functions vital to their research programs are carried out. Those functions include: patent and intellectual property protection; receipt of patent donations in technology transfer arrangements; and the establishment of subsidiaries, small business incubators, research parks and economic development programs.

"The research foundation is designed to facilitate the development of intellectual property and advance the research mission of the University," Luderer says.

He also indicated that both the Tri-Technology Corridor Steering Committee and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which reviewed the BRCC business plan earlier this fall, recommended that a foundation be established.

The WMU Research Foundation will be governed by an independent board of directors and will have three operational subcommittees that will assist in the day-to-day activities of the BRCC. The committees will focus on: business, finance and investment; intellectual property and conflict of interest.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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