The University Record, October 8, 1997

TMO director Robb heads west

From the Office of the Vice President for Research

Robert Robb, director of the Technology Management Office (TMO), is leaving the U-M for southern California to nurture start-up companies as the first president of a new venture capital company under formation by Research Corporation Technologies Corp. (RCT). The change is a natural one for Robb, who has been instrumental in successfully moving the U-M toward greater use of start-up companies as a component of the University's technology transfer program.

Robb assumed the directorship of TMO in January 1993, arriving from Baylor College of Medicine where he was a pioneer in helping to form companies based on new technologies derived from university research. Robb has overseen a period of significant technology transfer progress at the University; disclosures of new discoveries, licenses to companies to develop U-M inventions, and related revenues, are all significantly increased today compared to 1993.

"It is my sincere hope that this wonderful University will continue its momentum toward establishing a leadership position in the very important areas of industrial initiatives, tech transfer and start-up endeavors," Robb says. "I predict that continuing along this path will be important in attracting and retaining progressive, innovative faculty in the future."

One of the companies that Robb was instrumental in developing is Matrigen. Based on research by Jeffrey Bonadio of the Department of Pathology and Steven Goldstein, professor of surgery and bioengineering, Matrigen represents a model of innovation. With a combination of venture funds and corporate sponsorship, Matrigen is conducting research on how to enhance the healing of wounds by the introduction of genetic material at the site of trauma.

"Bob Robb was instrumental in positioning the technology and introducing the faculty to investors that led to the formation of Matrigen. His enthusiasm, expertise and support of the faculty continues to provide benefits for their research programs and those who might gain from the commercialization of the technology," says Goldstein.

With Robb's departure Oct. 14, Marvin Parnes, assistant vice President for research and director of the Division of Research Development and Administration, will become interim director of the Technology Management Office. Parnes has long been involved in developing the University's technology transfer strategy and intellectual property policies, and assuming the leadership of TMO will ensure continuity of its current activities and evolution.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for Bob, and will enable him to do start-up development on a full-time basis," Parnes says. "But we will miss his expertise and enthusiasm for innovation in technology transfer."

"Being chosen by RCT to lead their new venture fund is a strong vote of confidence in what Robb has been able to do at the U-M by one of the largest and most successful technology development companies in the United States," says Frederick Neidhardt, interim vice president for research. "We hope the University will have an opportunity to work with Bob again in his new role nurturing start-up companies."