Executive Director, Technology Commercialization
University of Minnesota
Rick Huebsch is Executive Director for University of Minnesota’s Technology Commercialization team, responsible for all facets of tech transfer. He has been with UMN for nearly 13 years in management roles and has helped lead many innovations in tech transfer that have benefited UMN and been shared broadly with others in tech transfer. He has contributed to numerous webinars and articles through Tech Transfer Central and similar forums.
Rick is a co-PI on UMN's NSF I-Corps program. He is a guest lecturer on IP at courses in the UMN business and law schools. Rick is on the Launch Minnesota Advisory Board for the State of Minnesota and serves as board representative for various UMN startups. He is active in APLU and the Big Ten Academic Alliance, helping organize tech transfer meetings.
Rick joined UMN after 20 years of software industry experience including roles in software engineering, technology strategy, and executive management with Minnesota and California companies.
What experience do you have working on or with a strategic board of directors?
My current strategic board experience is with Launch Minnesota, a program of the State of Minnesota to help grow the startup ecosystem. I also serve as board observer for the University on several startups, many with very experienced and strategic boards. As a industry executive (VP and GM) of large divisions of a software company, each division's leadership operated similar to a board of directors. As a community volunteer, I have served on a handful of boards for school, sports, and church organizations. In all these experiences, listening to others, coalescing ideas, and following through on actions are key principles.
Please include a brief description of your volunteer experiences within AUTM.
My volunteer experiences within AUTM include serving as a panelist for AUTM webinars, being part of a host site team and plenary speaker/panelists for AUTM Central Region Meeting in Minneapolis, and being part of the host site team and providing the welcome address for the AUTM Software event in Minneapolis. I have also participated in executive roundtables and panels at AUTM events.
What motivates you to join the AUTM Board of Directors?
Being part of the AUTM Board will allow me to become active in various policy and legislative issues that impact our tech transfer ecosystem. In addition, I would like to be part of the effort helping shape AUTM to benefit a highly diverse and inclusive membership.
Have you served in a volunteer leadership role for other organizations? If so, please explain.
Volunteer leadership roles related to my UMN work include as Launch Minnesota board member for the state of Minnesota, and teaching IP seminar courses at UMN business and law schools. On a personal level, I have had significant leadership and volunteering roles as a scout leader, youth sports head coach, mission trip leader for trips to Guatemala, and various church-based volunteer leadership roles.
AUTM has recently changed how the Chair is appointed each year, with the Chair now selected from amongst the sitting Board members each year. If elected by the Membership to the Board, would you further consider serving as Chair of the Board. Why or why not?
Yes, if other board members felt I was the most appropriate Chair, I would consider serving as Chair of the Board. I believe much is accomplished by great teams and am driven by a strong belief in action vs. talk.
Please list specific personal strengths that you believe are valuable to the AUTM Board of Directors and/or the strategic direction of the Association?
I have strong leadership experience in both work and volunteer settings, a core belief in team success vs. individual success, and a commitment to follow-through and results. My nearly 13 years of tech transfer leadership experience, coupled with significant attendance at AUTM events, offers a good perspective on the AUTM organization.
What special experience do you have in driving and implementing a strategic plan in other organizations?
I joined the UMN tech transfer team at the very early stages of a major reset in 2008 and was a key part of the leadership team that formed and implemented a strategic plan. Through having a strategic plan, hiring a talented team, and fostering a great culture in our office and in the research community, the plan has delivered excellent results. I also have much experience driving and implementing strategic plans during my time in industry, including as VP of a very successful product line.
How does the three-year term for the position (both responsibilities and time commitment) fit in with your other responsibilities? Will you have any conflicts of commitment between your full-time position and your volunteer time on the AUTM Board?
While the AUTM Board responsibilities would be a volunteer time commitment, it would also be a benefit to my leadership role with the UMN tech transfer organization. I have the support of my university and am not concerned with any conflicts of commitment.
AUTM is committed to addressing issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion both amongst the Board and on behalf of our Members. Briefly describe how your experiences can contribute to the Association’s growth in this area.
I have a keen interest in seeing increased diversity, equity, and inclusion in the academic innovation ecosystem. At UMN we have established a cross-department team focused on this issue. This effort has culminated in setting annual department goals and providing new diversity training for all tech transfer staff, among other culture changes. In October, I moderated a panel at the Big Ten tech transfer conference on equity, diversity, and inclusion in our innovation ecosystem, and came away with numerous additional ideas for action. I believe the AUTM membership and leadership needs to exemplify the same diversity we strive for in our academic innovators.
Is there anything else you would like AUTM members to know about you before they vote?
I enjoy working with our strong tech transfer team at the University of Minnesota, and would enjoy a similar team-based experience on the AUTM Board.