Bringing great ideas to the world
After a quarter century of successes PARTEQ, the University’s technology-transfer agency, is looking ahead to new challenges and increased alumni involvement.
PARTEQ Innovations’ recent 25th anniversary celebrations honoured researchers at Queen’s and the Royal Military College (RMC) whose discoveries have led to a dazzling variety of innovations
In the quarter-century since its inception, PARTEQ has overseen the commercialization of research ideas and discoveries that have returned more than $30 million to Queen’s and its inventors. The agency has also spawned the creation of more than 45 companies (two of which were recently acquired by global multinationals for more than $500 million), which have generated employment opportunities, raised more than $1.2 billion in investment, and brought to market products and processes that have benefited people worldwide.
Founded in 1987 as a not-for-profit corporation, PARTEQ – a derivative of Partners in Technology at Queen’s – is entirely self-funded and reports to a board of directors made up of representatives from both University and industry.
The idea of establishing an office dedicated to commercializing the inventions of researchers and alumni was relatively novel in the mid-1980s, and Queen’s was one of the first universities in North America to do so.
In 1999, PARTEQ became the first Canadian technology transfer office to attract and manage its own seven-million-dollar venture fund, offering seed financing to start-up companies that use Queen’s intellectual property or are managed by members of the Queen’s community.
John Molloy, MBA’84, CEO and President, has been with PARTEQ Innovations from the beginning. He came to Queen’s from the Bank of Montreal and a career as an infantry officer in the Canadian military. Molloy’s curiosity about research and his enthusiasm for helping to find useful applications for that research is evident. He has won a well-deserved reputation as a leading Canadian voice on the value of commercializing taxpayer-funded research discoveries.
“Universities are in the business of research and education,” he says. “Our job is to identify university research with market potential and to work with researchers in pursuing patents and arranging for commercial development. Essentially we act as the technology transfer agent for the researchers and for Queen’s, helping to convert important research innovations into useful applications.”
According to the Conference Board of Canada, this country ranks 14th out of 17 OECD nations in terms of its capacity to innovate. Switzerland and Ireland rank, respectively, as first and second on the list.
Conversely, the Conference Board has also found that “Canada is well supplied with good universities, engineering schools, teaching hospitals, and technical institutes. It produces science that is well respected around the world.”
The discrepancy between having universities that produce world-class research and our lack of capacity to innovate is referred to as “innovation lag.”
“We have a cultural climate that still largely fails to recognize the merits of innovation and entrepreneurial activity,” says Dr. Louis Lamontagne, Artsci’77. “Innovation is perhaps one of the most important and critical engines of economic growth and prosperity for a country and determines our ability to compete on the international stage.”
Lamontagne is a scientist, but he’s also an entrepreneur who has spent more than two decades working in the biotech industry and helped to create one of PARTEQ’s earliest success stories – a biotech company called Neurochem and a spinoff company, Painceptor.
“I came to understand the importance of innovation,” Lamontagne says. “I chose to launch these companies through PARTEQ because it is viewed as perhaps the most successful technology transfer/commercialization organization associated with a Canadian university.”
One recent measure of PARTEQ’s success is GreenCentre Canada, a national Centre of Excellence for commercializing green chemistry discoveries, which PARTEQ founded with $23 million from the Canadian and Ontario governments.
With GreenCentre now serving universities and companies across Canada, John Molloy is setting his sights on another first: engaging alumni in getting innovative new technologies to market.
“We need to be even more innovative in the way we do business,” he says. “Commercialization can be costly and risky, and we’ve come to the realization that one of the best resources we can tap into is our alumni. They’re a huge repository of knowledge, networks and experience. We’d like to get this group on board in new ways. We’d like to see alumni involved in mentorship, partnership, sponsorship, investment, and advisory or consulting capacities.”
For more information or to contact PARTEQ Innovations please visit: www.parteqinnovations.com.