Jacob Johnson has a strong passion for and history of knowledge-creation and relationship-building in the university technology commercialization and venture development community.
Currently, his firm, innovosource, focuses on supporting research institutions that are developing proof of concept, startup, and venture gap fund and accelerator programs. innovosource also launches programs for corporations and investors to identify future technologies and create innovation partnerships through these GAP programs.
Prior to innovosource, Jacob was a consultant to the DARPA Microsystems Technology Office, and a founding member of three, technology/startup commercialization, economic development, and corporate relations units at the University of Minnesota. He has also been active in AUTM for the past 18 years through volunteering in committees and presentations at annual and regional meetings.
What experience do you have working on or with a strategic Board of Directors?
Previously, I have had the honor to serve at a strategic level on the APLU Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness & Economic Prosperity (CICEP), the Network of Academic Corporate Relations Officers (NACRO) founding board, and the Midwest Research University Network (MRUN) board
Please include a brief description of your volunteer experiences within AUTM.
I am actively serving on the AUTM Leadership Forum (The Conversation) Planning Committee (it was great seeing friends at our first post-pandemic meeting in August!). Through the years, I have also enjoyed hosting SIGs and moderating/presenting in panels at AUTM Annual Meetings
Why do you want to join the AUTM Board of Directors?
Short answer is that I want to give back to an organization that has given me so much.
Longer answer, there has been a shift in the interests and professional responsibilities of AUTM members in line with the expanding role and importance of enabling innovation, commercializing technology, and developing quality startups within the university environment, and their role in and responsibility to the broader innovation ecosystem. This is all exciting, but we must also be cautious not to get distracted from the core tech transfer responsibilities and functions.
I think we can do both. As someone who has worked in various university commercialization and corporate relations offices, and now living “outside”, but very focused on working with university initiatives and models, I believe I can help the Board — and AUTM — understand the multiple perspectives as AUTM grows to effectively support and represent this ever-evolving profession.
Have you served in a volunteer leadership role for other organizations? If so, please explain.
- Board Member, Midwest Research University Network (MRUN) (Current)
- Board Member, CICEP, Association of Public Land-grant Universities (APLU) (Current)
- Founding Board Member, Network of Academic Corporate Relations Officers (NACRO) (2007-2010)
- Board Member, Midwest Research University Network (MRUN)
If elected by the Membership to the Board, would you consider serving as Chair? Please explain.
My responsibility would be to be a contributing member of the Board. If after serving, I was asked to assume the Chair position, I would certainly consider.
Please share personal strengths that you believe would be valuable to the AUTM Board and/or the strategic direction of the Association.
- Positive energy
- Seek out diverse ideas
What special experience do you have in driving and implementing a strategic plan?
As the founder of innovosource, I have had to develop and implement many strategic plans in the launch of new initiatives. Recently, we completed the successful pilot of an industry-funded proof of concept model. The program goal is to identify projects at research institutions that require short-term, de-risking that match with expressed challenges from corporate partners. The pilot resulted in conversations with 35 research institutions and five, company-funded POC projects, a startup investment, and a large research partnership.
How do terms of the position (both responsibilities and time commitment) fit with your other responsibilities? Will you have any conflicts of commitment between your full-time position and your volunteer time on the AUTM Board?
Active participation in the AUTM community is core to what I do day-to-day. I am committed.
AUTM is committed to addressing issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion both on the Board and on behalf of our members. Briefly describe how your experiences can contribute to the Association’s growth in this area.
AUTM has certainly demonstrated its commitment to EDI through action and the organization is better for it. Admittedly, I do not have the experience of under-represented communities, but I do have the willingness to listen and the desire to learn. Most importantly, I pledge to be a fully engaged ally and proactively support the EDI momentum at the Board level.
Advocacy for the innovation ecosystem is something AUTM has promoted recently. How do you think AUTM should continue to be involved?
AUTM, composed of the professionals responsible for supporting the transfer of technology, has always been central to the innovation ecosystem. Recent moves to better define AUTM’s place and expanding role in the innovation ecosystem, and the delivery of new opportunities and experiences for membership has all been positive. Moving forward, we need to not lose track of the necessary core functions of technology transfer, while also encouraging creative partnering with other organizations, and actively developing professionals with unique/necessary skillsets.
We have to aim higher than staying relevant, and instead figure out how we can impact and best support our organization, professionals, and broader ecosystem for the future.
Is there anything else you would like AUTM Members to know?
I'd be honored to represent you and will always have an open-door policy to hear your thoughts and ideas.