David McKinney/University Relations

Carey Novak helps match entrepreneurs with expertise at KU.

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Carey Novak, director of business relations and development, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Studies

Years at current job: Four.

Job duties: I help companies develop collaborative research relationships with KU researchers. These include collaborating on specific research projects as well as broad research initiatives, participating with KU research centers, accessing student interns and accessing KU’s research facilities. The goal is to transform these relationships into economic development benefits for Kansas, with a special focus on the Lawrence community.

What’s one thing that would surprise people about your work? I work across many technical areas but my educational background is economics ... sometimes called the “dismal science.”

Why is it important for KU to have a relationship with private industry, and how can that relationship benefit both parties as well as the state? KU, like most every research university, is being tasked with the goal to help improve the local, state and national economies. But these university-industry relationships can develop new technologies that improve our lives. They provide a better educational experience for students. They give faculty better insight into their academic interests.

The Bioscience and Technology Business Center has had recent success in attracting tenants. What other methods does your office use to develop collaboration between industry and KU researchers? For some companies, getting access to student interns is a big deal. For example, last year Garmin started a program with KU to hire IT students for software testing. To do this, Garmin opened a Lawrence office. Propylon located in the incubator and is pursuing a similar relationship. Some companies want a research relationship. For example, Archer Daniels Midland has a three-year project with our Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis for research and development on new biochemicals. Other companies like Deciphera, an early stage, local cancer drug company, needed lab space on an interim basis, and our office leased them space. The company is now moving into permanent labs and offices in Lawrence. Finally, KU is part of a local team that is evaluating the development of a technology park in Lawrence. KU would have a major role in attracting tenants to the park.

There are other universities in Kansas and scores across the nation. How does KU set itself apart when working with potential business partners? We have to focus on our strengths in certain fields (biosciences, IT, engineering) and offer companies a more comprehensive approach for translating research ideas into new and unique products. Companies can access:

• Technology: KU’s research and development and intellectual property generation is ever-evolving. Companies get an open door to breakthrough ideas as well as improving existing product platforms.

• People: KU provides a large base of professional research and development staff consisting of active and retired faculty, researchers and students. They can collaborate on research and development projects, consult, serve on advisory boards and so on. Additionally, students trained on new technologies can be hired as part time workers that convert to full time.

• Facilities: KU has several unique research labs and these are becoming more available for company use. KU can also lease lab and offices to companies on a special basis. Combined, these provide companies with flexibility to develop new technologies without having to make the up-front capital investment into labs and instruments.

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Carey Novak, director of business relations and development, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Studies
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