A New Breed of Tech Transfer Professionals

UBC Reports | Vol.
51 | No. 7 |
Jul. 7, 2005

By Lorraine Chan

WestLink Innovation Network Ltd. is turning out a new breed of tech transfer professionals through a visionary internship program.

Program graduates emerge with hands-on experience in all three sectors of business, academia and venture capital investment in placements across western Canada.

UILO Managing Director Angus Livingstone is enormously pleased with his brainchild, which enrols a third round of interns this September.

“There was no way I could do this off the side of my desk, so I approached WestLink,” he says.

The Calgary-based WestLink is a not-for-profit organization that aims to accelerate the field of technology transfer. Derek Gratz, WestLink President and CEO, says he and Livingstone go back 12 years, sharing the same mentor, Jim Murray, during the early days of commercialization at UBC.

Together they have created a program that focuses on building a Western pool of talent, know-how and skills and fostering links between academia and business.

WestLink’s internship program draws from university graduates who have a combination of science, business skills and knowledge. Over the course of two years, the interns spend eight months each at a tech transfer, venture capital and high tech company.

“There’s a cohort of 20 students that mix and match over that period,” explains Livingstone. “Not only do they all get the experience, they form a neat, cohesive network, which then gets experience in all three domains and in fact, it starts to draw all three sectors closer together, just by virtue of these folks moving around.”

Gratz credits Livingstone for building a sector that “is still in its early days in many ways.”

“Angus has laid the foundation and he has made a visionary contribution in growing the profession. He has been one of the catalysts for establishing WestLink’s programs. He has a well connected, broad view that goes beyond what he does at UBC,” says Gratz.