cover art for Beyond the Breakthrough featuring Mark Billingsley

Mark Billingsley is the director of University of Alaska Fairbanks‘ Tech Transfer Office and Innovation Hub, having joined the profession in 2015 after first working as an engineer and then holding various legal positions, including assistant public defender.

He joins Talking Tech Transfer to discuss how you do tech transfer when the US federal government’s definition of “rural communities” covers the whole state and rural to you means 30 people that live 200 miles from the nearest road.

He also talks about why Alaskans are an entrepreneurial culture but one that is yet to fully embrace innovation and why the state’s remoteness means startups and founders are much more resilient than they might be in the lower 48 states.

One of the biggest challenges UAF faces is the fact that there is no VC firm in all of Alaska, or even one from the other states that has a venture partner in Fairbanks. It is a problem Billingsley is trying to solve through his involvement in the Alaska Angel Conference and exploring interest from people who might want to create a firm.

He also ponders how he juggles his many day jobs, which include everything from writing grant applications to handling human resources, as well as serving as director of Alaska Center for Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship.


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The introduction and end credits have been omitted. Some sentences have been edited slightly for clarity.

Mark, welcome to the podcast.

This is great. Thank you so much for having me, I am excited.

It is a real pleasure to have you. To start with, can you give me an overview of University of Alaska’s tech transfer operation and, if you have them, some key figures, perhaps?

Sure, yeah. I am here in Fairbanks, Alaska. It is the Northern-most city of its size in the world. So we are pretty far north, a couple of hours from the Arctic circle. As you might imagine, we do a lot of Arctic research, that is sort of UAF’s thing. We got $140m in research expenditures approximately per year. We are pretty far away from everything.

The tech transfer was started around 10 years ago and then it had a real rebirth around five years ago. Basic stats – we have about 30 disclosures per year. I am actually a patent attorney and I have another patent attorney working for me in my office. We are the only two practising patent attorneys in the state of Alaska, actually, and still, we outsource most of it. Then we have other support staff as well.

But importantly, I am the director of the tech transfer office as well as the innovation hub, the other innovation entrepreneurial activities at the university, and the rebirth that occurred around five years ago was really focused on increasing the quantity and quality of disclosures coming into the tech transfer office. So, going upstream and helping orient researchers toward producing more commercialisable innovations and also helping open faculty’s, staff’s and students’ eyes to opportunities as entrepreneurs and starting their own companies.

Is that something that you find is already present as a culture, this entrepreneurship, being so remote and a kind of frontier city?

Interesting that many Alaskans say, and rightfully, that it is a very independent-minded community and it is a very innovative community. You encounter problems that you better be self-sufficient in figuring out how to solve them. I mean, going back to, this is a state that was founded 120 years ago on gold mining and people coming up here without the tools they needed and having to make their own tools and entrepreneurially coming up here trying to make some money.

But we do not have a strong culture of innovation and entrepreneurialism in Alaska, I would say, especially relative to, our big sister, big brother right outside of here is Seattle and it is booming. And then California is not much farther away. So relative to them is nothing.

I think I represent a few different things – rural smaller offices and underdeveloped innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems and underdeveloped not just that they are undeveloped, but that we are underdeveloped relative to our potential. Because there is great potential here, we are just very consciously bringing that culture up here as much as I can.

You mentioned the rebirth already. What led to the rebirth? How exactly have things changed?

Yeah, so the rebirth partially was just prompted by a large turnover in staff and with no carry over the institutional history. So, it was just out of necessity, but also the office was initially opened with almost a very traditional perspective on tech transfer, purely licensing and disclosure churn, and that was not bad at all but the longer-term game here is to grow the number of quality and quantity of innovation so that we have even more to work on through the traditional licensing operations.

And if anything, I feel like right now we are on the upswing for sure, with faculty, staff and students being more aware of this and producing more commercialisable innovation. So, now we need to swing back toward putting more effort into the traditional work.

Speaking of that awareness, you have an ambassador programme. Can you tell me about how that works and the impact that it has had so far?

Yeah, so that was something that we did right at that rebirth period. It is more traditionally focused, but we call it our eyes, ears and mouth in each college or research institute.

It is typically faculty who we select, two to three per year. They join us on a contract of usually a month, sometimes two months, sometimes two weeks. And they join us, really get to know what we are doing. Typically, they are people who we kind of know already, and they kind of know what we do. For one year they join all of our staff meetings.

They usually have a pet project that they work on but their more core job is to really just go out there and be eyes and ears, finding disclosures or finding people who are likely to be interested in our programmes. And then our mouth also, they go out there and they just promote now that they know what we are doing, they are promoting it.

It is absolutely successful. First, those people then are intimately familiar with what we are doing so three years, five years down the road, they or their grad students are already going to be lined up to work with us. And then, there is the one-year turnover so it keeps on being a new person each time.

Then, you know, it is that thing of, we do have one faculty member who works half-time permanently in our office, but this is that bridging the gap between a tech transfer office and the members of the actual faculty who are teaching and doing research. It is really bridging that gap. It has been great. It has been absolutely productive and fact.

Amazing. You hinted at one of the other jobs you have – you are also director of the Alaska Center for Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship. Can you tell me a little bit about that centre and how it fits together with the tech transfer office?

Sure. Yeah, so the Center for Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship – the acronym comes out to Center ICE, which is somewhat Alaska fitting – Center ICE is our home for everything we do that is not traditional core tech transfer. It is encouraging more innovation and entrepreneurialism and supporting all the way from ideation through commercialisation success, or launching your startup company and getting funding for that.

We have a number of grants that run through there. I actually am the PI on multiple grants, constantly applying for new ones or making connections and networking in that regard, which I am not sure how common that is across the country – I know some offices do it and some do not, some of my peers do it, not a lot.

It seems like that is a real model. As tech transfer changes, it seems like that is a model – one of the models that could become increasingly common. It creates some challenges because administratively people have a hard time thinking about, “wait, tech transfer offices have grants? How does that make sense? How does that work?”

But it is really the associated services that we offer that have the grants to support them. We service faculty, staff and students, and some of our grants even have us serving the general public in Alaska. We do not have any grants that serve outside of Alaska, but not that we could not.

How do you find time to do all the different jobs? If you are also one of the two only patent attorneys in Alaska? What does your day look like?

It is really long and I do not. I am really grateful for the other patent attorney in my office. He is doing a great job. He has been with us for about a year and a half. He is learning really quickly, he is really smart, so I am very grateful for him.

I am spending a lot of my time still on that, you know it is not just tech transfer and licensing. It is also reviewing the IP terms and all of the contracts and helping with data, sharing agreements, everything kind of related to tech transfer that goes on there, so that is quite a bit of work.

I do spend a lot of my time on grant management, budget, HR personnel management issues, and it adds up to a lot.

And I mean, that is a good question and I do not have a great answer for one thing. It is a balance I am still trying to achieve, but that is part of the natural growing pains. If you are growing and you have it under perfect control at every moment, you are probably not growing as fast as you can. And sometimes the dynamics of growing quickly are exciting and they uncover new opportunities.

Yes, I think that is very true. Something that is at the top of everyone’s mind at the moment as well is diversity and inclusion. How does your engagement fare from researchers and your own staff when it comes to diversity?

Yeah, thanks. We have really taken a proactive approach to try to improve our engagement, for sure. Alaska’s minority population is largely Alaskan natives so we do not have a large Hispanic or Asian population. It is people who have been here for a whole lot longer than we have. We are a minority-serving institute.

We have a few initiatives in that regard. We have a programme to help startups get access to federal funding, the SBIR-STTR grant programme – most people in the United States will know what that is.

We have SBIR-STTR support programmes specifically targeting underrepresented populations. We are standing up an interior Alaska business accelerator and we are giving preference to underrepresented groups. We are partnering with a K through 12 education that comes out of the university and really does a good job of reaching into the high schools, especially, and especially the high schools that largely serve underrepresented populations.

I will not lie, it is not easy. I have asked a leader in this area, someone from another state: what do you consider the keys? And she had a few different answers, but she said, measure where you are at in terms of underrepresented participation and keep track and make sure you are improving. Give folks from underrepresented communities a seat at the table when you are making high-level decisions and commit resources. It is not a secret these are the things but you actually have to do it.

So, we are doing that. And among our own ranks, it has always been pretty good in terms of gender diversity, it is pretty much 50-50. We have had more female than male at times, I think right now we probably are more male than female. But then ethnic diversity, we have minority representation, but it could be stronger.

What does the student population or faculty look like at University of Alaska? Is it mostly Alaskans? Do you attract many students or researchers from other states?

It is largely Alaskans. It is a public land grant university, largely Alaskans. Among the faculty and the graduate students, I would not say that that is true. It is a lot of people – and some undergraduate students as well… There is the allure of Alaska. We are definitely attracting people who are just interested in the allure, mystique of Alaska.

But then when you get to the graduate students and the faculty, there are a lot of people who are here for Arctic-related research. We are definitely attracting graduate students on a regular basis who are interested in something related to Arctic science. So, that attracts an international community. By some measure, UAF is the number one Arctic research institute in the world.

I suppose there are really bot many other places you could go for that, maybe somewhere north in Sweden or Finland, but you are really kind of stuck for places to find if you are an Arctic researcher.

Well, and it is becoming increasingly important with global warming and the shipping lines opening up and natural resources development. But a lot of universities, especially from the US, that want to perform Arctic research, which many of them do for varying reasons, they even just need to know how to get there. Obviously taking a flight, but performing research in the Arctic, there is a lot of challenges – cold, remote, dark, all kinds of challenges – and oftentimes we are just sought out as a partner to figure out how to access that and perform science in the Arctic.

We have touched on my next question a few times over your answers. What are the challenges of commercialisation in Alaska?

We do not do a lot of research that is obviously commercially relevant. So, commercialising that research is just more challenging. I have to connect more dots. There is not an end-user for most of my disclosures and that is not so unusual, but I have to connect maybe more dots than most people.

We do not have that culture of innovation and entrepreneurialism quite yet, and we are trying to change that. And then we do not have industry down the road that is looking to partner with us naturally. For so many reasons, if you are in a city and there is a big company or a big industry in the area, they want to create that partnership because they want the talent and they want you to be helping solve their research challenges. There is just goodwill in the community, so they are trying to build that relationship.

When you do not have that next door, you do not have that natural industry partner that is going to lead to startups or innovations that are commercialisable. That is a real challenge.

Other than industry, how easy is it to find capital? Do you have VCs knocking on your door? Well, other than in Silicon Valley, nobody is probably knocking on anyone’s door.

Yeah, interesting you should ask that. I have really been working on that recently quite a bit or looking into that. To directly answer your question, there is not a single VC firm in Alaska. There is literally no venture capital in Alaska and there is nobody who really has Alaska as a dedicated part of their portfolio, like an outside firm in California or Seattle that says, “we are not located in Alaska, but we are going to have a venture partner in Alaska”. There is just nothing like that.

And we do not have a very… Our angel investor community activity level looks like in rural middle America, but we certainly do not have the level of activity among our angel investors that you would find in Seattle or Oregon and in California. They are coming from a very different place.

What happens is, I’ll have a startup that will try to raise money in the state and they might be successful, but I would posit that they would be more successful if they were in California, and I am just talking about the angel round. Then when they get to a seed round or even a pre-seed round, there is no funding in Alaska, there is no opportunity, there is no capital available to them. So we are trying to fix that and as the startup ecosystem in Alaska improves, the opportunity really is greater. And as people get older and younger people move up, their perspectives are changing. There is a good case to be made right now for starting a very small venture capital firm in Alaska. I am trying to see what people think about that, try to find somebody to champion that.

When startups do go to California or Seattle to get money, do you find that the expertise is there amongst the VCs to understand the technologies that they are working on? Because I imagine it is not just your software companies and what you would find in San Francisco, basically.

Yeah. I do not think that that has held them back. A couple of things, our founders, they are resilient.

I suppose they have to be.

I would say that they would have given up nine months earlier if they were a lower 48 startup or two years earlier. So, they are resilient, but they are not as savvy as CEOs. That is one thing – there is a pro and a con there.

But I would not say that the investors are shying away or overly aggressive. There is not a real difference just because we are from Alaska, even in terms of the technology. I would also say though that when we have startups in Alaska – that stay in Alaska or that go elsewhere – I think they have a higher rate of success because we are more risk-averse, so if you have made as far as you have to in the lower 48 or two years on in Alaska, you are probably in pretty good shape because whoever’s been supporting you, or however far you have gotten, it has been despite the risk aversion that we see in our founders and our startup community and our investors. You are more likely to be successful it seems like, so when they do go to the lower 48, it seems like they are more successful in terms of spinning up their business and in raising capital.

I would probably call that an advantage of being in Alaska. Are there other advantages that you have compared to the lower 48?

This is like the coolest place in the world to live, which is a real selling point. We are trying to figure that out still with the great, well, not the Great Resignation, maybe part of that, with people moving to remote that we have seen people move up here from the lower 48. They can move anywhere now and they are like, “well, I want to live in Alaska”. So many people here.

This is kind of one of those places where you do not get anywhere near it if you are not interested. Because you are like “that is cold and that is far away”. But if you are interested in it, you will probably love it, or there is a good chance that you will love it once you get up here. The culture, the community are really pretty cool, so that is a real advantage.

There are various other advantages. Our strategic geopolitical location relative to Asia, we have our economics pencilled out sometimes sooner here than they do elsewhere for doing certain kinds of pilot projects, because it is so expensive, especially in rural Alaska. All of Alaska generally qualifies as rural, under many US federal definitions, but what we consider rural is, well, definitely off of the grid, the interconnected power grid, definitely off of the road system, and then there are communities that are 30 people large and they are 200 miles away or 400 miles away from the nearest road or anything – there are 200 of those, so very rural.

In those communities, the economics can be different. It is very expensive to have electricity, so if you want to try out your new power generation technology, it is not going to be economically viable in Nebraska. They are already interconnected to the entire United States, much of Canada, but it might work out up here. So, there are some things like that. We have a lot of natural resources.

You are certainly selling Alaska. It is a state that I have not been to yet. I think as far north as I have been is probably Sonoma wine country, which is still pretty far south from Alaska, but you are really making me want to come up and visit. I quite like the cold, so I think I would be quite at home in Fairbanks.

Oh please, please come up. I will give you a place to stay.

What is your view of the US ecosystem more broadly outside of Alaska?

Yeah. So tech transfer is really interesting right now. I would say it is changing quickly from that traditional tech transfer model I was talking about before, and that is still an integral part of any future of tech transfer, but there is a lot of experimentation it seems like, in terms of where the office should sit, what its economics should look like and what they should be doing.

I think it is interesting to think about from a leadership standpoint, the tech transfer office director, the vice-president for research, the president of the university and then even the community leaders, what they want the tech transfer office to be doing and how it could have the greatest impact.

You know, it is no secret that some large percentage of tech transfer offices do not break even, but universities still want them because there is so much value they still add. But that is often been approached from a “but still how much money you are making” perspective. As people maybe come to terms with that and more honestly think about what is the greatest value we can get from this really specialised group of people sitting in our tech transfer, it is really going to be producing, it is already, and it continues to produce some really interesting experiments at universities. I am excited to see how that grows.

And then different size universities can try different things. We have been fortunate to try all kinds of new things in just our 10 years of existence.

You mentioned angel investors earlier, still a nascent thing in Alaska. You were director of the Alaska Angel Conference though last year, 2020-2021. Can you tell me about this event and how it has helped Alaska?

Sure, yeah. So, this is very much related to building up that ecosystem. I work on the innovation side of it and then there is the founder-entrepreneur side of it, and then there is the investor side of it. This is focused on building up the investor side of the ecosystem. So what we do, it is an annual event, it is called Alaska Angel Conference but it is actually something that takes place over the course of say two or three months.

We attract the startup companies that are raising capital, or as many as we can in the state at the time, and then angel investors. We really try to get new angel investors in the state and they all buy a unit or two of a fund – we usually raise about $100,000 – and then it is really a teaching process. There are some experienced angel investors and then there are all the new angel investors, and experienced angel investors walk the new angel investors through the process of finding and then doing due diligence and then making a decision and then actually executing an agreement to invest in the startup companies.

It is literally Tuesday night, 4pm to 6pm, or something, webinars teaching new aspects of angel investing maybe for the first hour and the second hour is hearing pitches from the startup companies or talking to the startup companies, asking questions that you would ask during due diligence. Then the investors break into smaller teams to really do the thorough due diligence and then report back to the larger group of investors and then at the end make a decision. We find that sidebar deals get done. I think every year there has been a sidecar deal that has gotten done. It still is a service to the startups because we make sure we really try to provide value to them as well – at minimum feedback on their pitches, but we also provide pitch workshops for them.

It is an organising force for startups and investors in the state of Alaska and it results in a real investment. It is a great model. We actually imported it from something similar in the Pacific Northwest.

Okay. Yes, because the other one that I was thinking of was the IU Angel Network, Indiana University, because they do something similar where they bring in investors and they do the due diligence and they, well, I suppose it really helps startups to go through due diligence because they might see things that are not quite working yet the way they should. But yeah, that is the other one that came to mind.

That seems to be increasingly common. I think Duke has one as well and some other schools do too. They are organising their angel investors and they are not necessarily doing it… you know, there are a lot of benefits. It helps them connect to often their alumni who they are bringing in and their alumni can contribute as entrepreneurs-in-residence or executives-in-residence, they can contribute philanthropically to the university, they can invest in that startup company, they might end up taking some other technology and commercialising that. So that is that mentor network building type function – there are a lot of benefits to that.

You personally joined UAF in 2015. You became a director last year. As you said, your background is in law, you have been a public defender, planning commissioner, patent attorney. What got you into tech transfer and what made you join Alaska in particular?

This field is full of people from all kinds of different backgrounds, you have the PhDs and JDs, and those are just the credentials, but people from all different areas of science and you can be a sociologist, there is an add-value to everybody there.

It is just such an interesting and dynamic group of people. It has to be one of the most diverse professions that I can think of. You can come from just about any background and there are so many different aspects to tech transfer, and you can stick with tech transfer as a career or use this as a springboard.

The people working in tech transfer are some of the most well-rounded people I have met, I would really encourage anybody and everybody to give it a try for a while, especially if they are interested in technology and making a real impact.

Every time I speak to someone, I think I should do it, and my predecessor actually did, he now works for Oxford University Innovation, so he has managed to jump into a TTO. But yeah, it just sounds amazing. Every time I speak to someone it is a wonderful career.

It is so interesting, especially at a university that does a wide range of things. You might work at a cancer institute where it is still many different aspects of the research going on, but it is still biomedical and cancer biomedical at that. I am dealing with the whole range of stuff. We do not have a medical school, but we still even have biomedical research going on here. It is so interesting if you are into science, technology and then there is the business side of things too, which is really interesting.

What is your vision for tech transfer at UAF? What does this look like in five, 10 years?

With some other leaders at UAF, we are actually transforming the university into a more innovative research institute that is more closely aligned with some real-world needs. From there, everything is going to flow – more disclosures and disclosures that are more valuable and greater economic impact and greater impact of the university’s research.

My vision is heavily focused on the innovation side of things. That is my vision for it and that is what I am working toward. From there, the tech transfer operations and output metrics will be greater. There is just a lot of different angles to take there. There are grad students and connecting to corporations and real-world needs and design thinking and the lean startup methodology. There are all these different pieces that can and are contributing to that. And then talking to faculty about what they are teaching in their classes and saying, “hey, have you thought about this” and having them go through some of our programmes, they are like “oh, this is pretty interesting, I can bring this back to my classroom”.

So, it is really transforming the innovation ecosystem at the university and then tech transfer will follow from there. We will be more successful as a result.

Is there anything that annoys you, that, if you had a magic wand, you could change at UAF or tech transfer in general?

Let us see. I am not sure if you have heard of it, there is this initiative in the United States called PTIE. It stands for the Promotion and Tenure – Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Essentially it is a coalition of a hundred universities in the country that are trying to build innovation and entrepreneurialism into the promotion and tenure criteria or elevate it within the criteria, so either it is not already in the criteria. Talking about faculty and what motivates them, what they get measured by, many schools, think nothing of individual entrepreneurialism or some schools have it listed, but do not really put much value, that can really shift things on a large scale if we elevate that within the promotion and tenure criteria.

This is a factor. It is not a criteria. It is not the right thing for large percentage of PIs, but it is something that for the ones who are interested, they should get credit for. It is something we have been pushing within UAF and something I think could make a big impact across the country.

Elevating the importance of innovation entrepreneurialism for promotion and tenure review for faculty members, I think could be a pretty big deal.

There are others that I have talked to. In KU Leuven in Belgium, they have one where researchers, even if they do not create the spinout, if they licensed this technology, they get their pot of money from the licensing income, and then they can use that to hire teaching assistants or spend it on resources, and that way they kind of build an entrepreneurial culture. So even if there is not a startup that is created, they have their – and obviously the money belongs to the university, it does not belong to the professor, but it is a way for the professor to kind of go, “oh, I have done something that has had commercial value and now I have a very clear thing that I can use”. I thought that was quite an interesting way of handling it.

A lot of schools do have something like that in the United States. They will give the money directly – we even give some of the money directly – into their paycheque, or it is a separate check that they will get if we have success in commercialising.

It is there to incentivise gearing your research toward commercial potential. Then some of the money that stays within the university will still go back to the department so that not only does the inventor, him or herself, get it directly into their paycheque, but they also might get some into their lab. It usually goes above their level and then their dean or director gets to decide what to do with it, and probably varies by department or by university, whether they get funnelled down to that individual or if it stays up at a higher level.

I have learned something new.

But is it adequate to incentivise? In some places it is and some places it is not, and it really helps if you have had a… You know, we talk about the faculty member who will someday drive on a campus with a Porsche, which is a very unreasonable car to own in Alaska so that might not ever happen, but you get the point, somebody who drives on the campus with the Porsche, the red flashy, convertible Porsche, and all the other faculty members are like, “oh, I want one of those”. That might be the thing that really changes it, so awaiting that day. A metaphorical Porsche, I don’t know what it would be.

I do not know what is appropriate in Alaska, probably more like a Land Rover.

What would you say to someone starting out in tech transfer today? What advice would you give to a fresh start?

I would encourage someone who is just starting out in tech transfer to enjoy the learning process and learn as much as you can and be very open-minded and do not be too patient. There is so much opportunity out there.

If you find that you are getting bogged down in an area that you do not like or pigeonholed in a way that you do not like, there is opportunity to move around. Go after it.

There is plenty of room for leadership still in figuring out what tech transfer is going to look like in the future broadly, or should look like at a particular research institute.

There is plenty of opportunities, so do not let yourself get discouraged by any particular bad experience you might have. And do not be too patient because if you find that you are not learning something new, then stand up and say, “I want to keep on going with my personal professional development.”

I think that is really good advice. I really like that. Do not be too patient. That is a good slogan.

I told that to a group of undergraduate students recently with some faculty members in the room. I was like, “if you do not like your degree, what your major is, you just need to change. And if you need to change five times then change, but you will learn something each time you switch”. I maybe said it a little more politely than that, but I think that there is so much value – go learn, go try new things. I do not want to see some students get stuck in a certain area and then find out that they do not like it further down the line.

I think that is very true. I started a postgrad and changed my mind two months in because I realised it just was not for me and did a different one. Yeah, I think there should not be any shame in realising that the path you chose is not the right one.

We have touched a lot on startups’ problems, money. Are there any successes that have come out of UAF that you are proud of or that you would highlight for whatever reason?

I am proud of every one of our startups at this point. They are trailblazing in a sincere sense in that our first startup was about seven, eight years ago – what you would call a modern-day, real startup coming out of the university. There have been companies over probably the past 80 years or something, but they are not really what you call it a modern university spinoff.

Since then, it is just increasing every year. They truly are trailblazers. You know, the very first ones are helping us work through conflict of interest management plans for the first time. We are refining our licensing processes. And then they are figuring out in-state venture financing, attracting money and capital for their startups.

A couple that have full-time faculty members who have taken it seriously and done a great job – we have Dr Drew who started a company called BeCool that is working on developing a pharmaceutical, which is hard to believe in Alaska. There is not a med school, not even a big biology department. Interestingly, it is actually based on decades of hibernation research so it is quite fitting for us to have this particular type of pharmaceutical.

Then there is another researcher, Dr Johnson and his company Coupi, also Alaska related, after his own decades of research on interaction of ice crystals and snow particles had developed great models for modelling the interaction between particles using the discrete element method – a particular type of modelling – and has developed some really high-level modelling software that he has turned into a good business.

Wow. Pharmaceutical was definitely not something that I thought you were going to say. That is really cool. That almost brings us to the end, we are almost out of time. Is there anything else we have not covered that you want people to know about UAF or any parting words?

UAF is open for business. We have great researchers to collaborate with. We have great technology that is available for licensing. This is an exciting time to be working in tech transfer for anybody who is considering it. And it is an exciting time to be living in this world.

I just see opportunity everywhere around me right now. I am not sure if it has something to do with hopefully coming on the heels of a pandemic, hopefully, that is coming to an end, but I just feel like there is just a ton of opportunity in Alaska at UAF and just, it seems like, everywhere. Everybody I am talking to right now, it is a really exciting time. So, I hope that everybody has a great attitude and can contribute to making the world better.

Well, you have certainly convinced me to come visit Alaska as soon as I can. Mark, thank you so much. It has been a real pleasure to talk to you today and learn more about Alaska.

Likewise, this was great. I really enjoy your podcast, so please keep it up.

I am planning to, thank you.

Thank you.

Thierry Heles

Thierry Heles is the editor of Global University Venturing, host of the Beyond the Breakthrough interview podcast and responsible for the monthly GUV Gazette (sign up here for free).