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Christy Wyskiel on Moving Discoveries into the Marketplace

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Christy Wyskiel on Moving Discoveries into the Marketplace

By Catherine Kolf

Christy Wyskiel on Moving Discoveries into the Marketplace

Christy Wyskiel

Christy Wyskiel is the senior advisor to the president of The Johns Hopkins University for innovation and entrepreneurship. In this role, she serves as executive director of Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures (JHTV), a division of the university responsible for technology transfer, industry research partnerships, and company incubation.

 

What is JHTV's mission?

WYSKIEL: JHTV aims to maximize the impact of Johns Hopkins University's research excellence by facilitating the translation and commercialization of discoveries into accessible technologies, products and services that benefit society.

We do this in a variety of ways, whether by helping you license your technology, obtain a patent, start your own business or find funding for your research.

Why was JHTV formed?

WYSKIEL: In August 2013, President Ronald J. Daniels and Dean Paul B. Rothman formed the Committee on the Innovation Ecosystem to consider the university’s role in encouraging commercialization and entrepreneurship among faculty, clinicians and students. The committee, co-chaired by Drew Pardoll and Jennifer Elisseeff consulted widely across the university community, considered a wide range of internal and external studies and information, visited innovation hubs around the nation and solicited feedback from prominent venture capital firms and pharmaceutical and biotech companies.

In May 2014, the committee produced a final report that cited three areas where the university needed to make investments: space for entrepreneurs to work, translational funding for their projects, and resources such as mentorship, educational programs and access to networks. JHTV was formed to pursue those goals.

How has JHTV grown since its inception?    

WYSKIEL: Since 2014, JHTV has: 

  • Opened 44,000 square feet of incubator space, including private office space, co-working space and state-of-the-art lab space
  • Secured $183 million in licensing revenue and $104 million in sponsored research funding
  • Helped researchers obtain nearly 800 patents
  • Seen its startups raise $2.3 billion in venture funding at an annual rate of $500 million

At the School of Medicine, faculty have produced a yearly average of 310 reports of invention, the first step on the path to commercialization. School of Medicine faculty also have helped to found more than 100 of the university’s 159 self-sustaining startups.

What are some ways JHTV can help me secure funding for my research?

WYSKIEL: Translational funding enables researchers to set early-stage innovations and discoveries on a path to commercialization.

This funding can be used to de-risk a technology and increase its value in the eyes of commercial partners. Translational funding does not require and, thereby, dilute equity ownership, although it may have participation rights or payback component.

JHTV connects investigators with state and federal funding through programs such as the Maryland Innovation Initiative (MII) and the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

We also three philanthropic grant programs that are specifically for Johns Hopkins innovators developing technology for commercial application. Each year, $1 million in grants of up to $100,000 are disbursed across a number of funding cycles. Recipients of translational funding have access to additional support in the form of mentorship and networks.

JHTV also has a corporate partnerships team that serves as the university’s front door for corporate partners seeking academic research collaboration. The team works with our researchers from initial discussions and framing deals to final execution and alliance management.

How can JHTV help me start my own business?

WYSKIEL: JHTV's FastForward is a coordinated suite of resources designed to efficiently move technologies from startup to marketplace. We offer a range of supportive programs and resources such as legal and accounting support, mentorship, access to information resources and networking. We also help startups identify opportunities and secure funding at any stage – from translational non-dilutive grants to seed and series A funding. Startups can also rent our office and lab space.

What is your background?

WYSKIEL: I was an investor and entrepreneur for 19 years in the life sciences and medical device industries. I’ve co-founded two Baltimore-based startups and consulted on numerous others. I’ve always felt that Johns Hopkins had the potential to lead its peers in commercialization based on the strength of its discovery engine. I’ve also felt that our city and region could benefit immensely the resulting economic activity. In 2013, President Daniels gave me the chance of a lifetime to lead the effort to create a world-class innovation hub here at Hopkins, and I jumped at the chance.

What’s the most enjoyable aspect of your job?

WYSKIEL: I like taking the hard work and dedication of Johns Hopkins faculty and researchers and providing a vehicle through which those discoveries can improve someone’s quality of life. I'm so gratified that the faculty are focused on the big looming problems. They're not afraid to take the moonshot approach to research and technology development. We're just here to facilitate their dreams and make them come true.

What can our faculty do to make your job easier?

WYSKIEL: Make our job easier? We want to make the faculty’s job easier. Reach out to us, give us a try, and let us show you how we can help you take your idea from the lab to the marketplace.