Distance learning enables business pros to offer hands-on marketing advice to Cornell inventors

Media Contact

Media Relations Office

Corporate entrepreneurs in New York City will use distance learning techniques to give hands-on marketing advice to Cornell inventors on the university's upstate campus this Friday afternoon, Jan. 29.

The Cornell Research Foundation offers more than 400 licenses to commercialize patentable technology invented or developed on the Cornell University campus. Among the most intriguing are:

  • a device that employs bees to disseminate a biologically safe pest control product that protects crops from insect infestation;
  • a way to route information between hand-held computers and databases stored on memory-intensive back-end computers;
  • a method to measure the effectiveness of disinfection treatments on animals.

But these days a creative product needs equally creative marketing to succeed. Some of the best ideas may end up gathering dust on the shelf simply for lack of a coherent selling strategy.

"Universities are wonderful places for the incubation of ideas, but it takes business savvy to determine if a product is marketable and careful planning to bring it to market," says Thomas Itin, a 1957 Cornell graduate who is chairman and president of Williams Controls, a West Bloomfield, Mich., manufacturer and integrator of innovative sensors, controls and communications systems for the transportation and communication industries. Itin also heads the Cornell Technology Transfer Committee, a volunteer group made up of entrepreneurial Cornell graduates who have achieved commercial success. Their job is to advise the university and the Cornell Research Foundation on technology transfer, including tips on marketing inventions.

Itin teamed up with Cornell's Distance Learning Program to link entrepreneurial faculty and staff at Cornell with the group of commercially successful entrepreneurs who are convening at the Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations' New York City office this Friday, Jan. 29, from 2 to 4:30 p.m. The two groups will examine new technologies invented at Cornell in electronics, animal immunology, horticultural science and pest control, including those inventions mentioned earlier in this release. The discussion will be accessible at: http://www.distancelearning.cornell.edu.